São Sebastião is a coastal city and a municipality on the North Coast of São Paulo. The city is known for its historical heritage and for the Maresias beach, part of the international surf circuit and regarded as "the Ipanema of São Paulo".
São Sebastião is a long and noncontiguous coastal area, offering an incredible number of beaches, the majority with a somewhat rustic aspect. In the beginning of the 90s, its tropical climate and savage feel attracted wealthy Paulistas who, suffering with the infrastructure problems of the Baixada Santista, looked for calmer beaches and less congested roads. Nowadays, the reality of the chaotic traffic affects São Sebastião, but the municipality resists growth through laws, such as one that forbids the construction of tall buildings.
Intercity buses between São Paulo and São Sebastião are provided by Litorânea and can be taken from the Tietê intercity bus terminal. Note that there are two types of buses: one takes 3 and a half hours and another takes 5 hours and 25 minutes, and they cost about the same. There are also less frequent buses to Maresias and to the ferry boat to Ilhabela. Check the website for detailed information.
Normandy runs a bus from Paraty to São Sebastião twice daily.
Coming from São Paulo, there are three routes of access.
- Take SP-070 (Trabalhadores/Ayrton Senna) and go to São José dos Campos, then take SP-099 (Tamoios) to Caraguatatuba, on the coast, and finally BR-101 (Rio-Santos) south to São Sebastião.
- Take SP-150 (Anchieta) or SP-160 (Imigrantes). At Cubatão, follow the signs to go to Bertioga, north via BR-101 (Rio-Santos). São Sebastião is past Bertioga.
- Take SP-070 (Trabalhadores/Ayrton Senna) and go to Mogi das Cruzes, then take SP-098 (Mogi-Bertioga) to Bertioga, on the coast, and finally BR-101 (Rio-Santos) north to São Sebastião. This path is somewhat more complicated as you need to find your way through Mogi das Cruzes.
The "city" of São Sebastião is more properly described as a compact downtown and various discontinuous or semi-continuous coastal suburbs, distributed along 100 km of coast.
Downtown is small enough to walk around. A map can be obtained at the tourist information office located on Av. Dr. Altono Arantes (not far from the ferry terminal). The ferry terminal is located at the end of Av. Antonio Januário de Nascimento; look for the signs 'Balsa'.
To get around the beaches, you may take bus 51 operated by Ecobus , which departs every 20-30 minutes (more on weekends). This bus goes from the intercity bus terminal (Rodoviária) downtown (from inside, not the bus stop outside) to the Boracéia beach, at the division with Bertioga. Getting around by car using BR-101 should be straightforward.
- Casa Esperança, Av. Dr. Altino Arantes, 150. Mo-Fr 9AM-6PM. The best-preserved colonial structure in town, it is a beautiful residence built in the 18th century complete with its original ceiling paintings. Now it is used as a shopping center and art gallery. Free.
- Casa das Janelas, Rua Antônio Cândido, 113 (Largo da Casa de Câmara e Cadeia). Colonial-era house typical of the 18th century. Inside visitation is not currently permitted.
- Convento dos Carmelitas (Carmelite Convent), Guaecá Beach (12 km from downtown). By appointment. Constructed in the 17th century as the headquarters of a farm run by Carmelite monks, it is now on private property within the residential complexes of Balneário de Guaecá and Portal do Carmo.
- Convento de Nossa Senhora do Amparo (Convent of Our Lady of Amparo), Rua Martins do Val, no number (seaside). 9AM-7PM daily. Completed in 1668, this church is the oldest building in the city. Free.
- Council House and Jail (Casa de Câmara e Cadeia), Praça Brig. Rafael Tobias de Aguiar, no number. Inside visitation by appointment only. Built the late 1600 when the outpost was upgraded to vila status. It currently serves as the Military Police station.
- Fazenda Santana (Santana Farm), Pontal da Cruz. Built in 1743, it contains the family residence, a chapel, and a sugar cane mill.
- Igreja Matriz, Praça Major João Fernandes, 22, ☎ +55 12 3892-1110. This church, built towards the end of the 17th century, marks the history of the local coast-dwelling people, serving as an important symbol of the religiosity and the development of the municipality of São Sebastião. Free.
- Historical Center. Seven blocks designated as a National Historical Heritage site, with 300-year-old colonial manors built around the Igreja Matriz.
- Boracéia. The first beach you'll encounter as you come in from the west on the Rio-Santos Highway. A calm beach with preserved flora, and with an indigenous tribe established in the area.
- Juréia. A small, almost deserted beach with few residences and a lot of greenery.
- Barra do Una. With its light-colored sand and calm waters, this beach attracts families and groups of young couples.
- Juquehy. This beach has beach-side mansions and the best infrastructure, attracting families and groups of young people.
- Barra do Sahy. Boat rides to the nearby island or sunbathing in the soft, white sand. Children have parties in the small beach park.
- Baleia. With large condominiums amidst the vegetation, this beach is wider and has harder sand. Surfers converge at the end down to the right.
- Camburi. The most touristy beaches in town, Camburi and the neighboring Camburizinho have choppy blue-green waters that make surfers swoon. Young people from São Paulo come in search of action, battling for space on the soft sand.
- Boiçucanga. This beach has perhaps the best sunset in town, and has active businesses as well. Brava Beach is near the division with Maresias, frequented by adventurous types who go to see its emerald-green water first-hand.
- Maresias. The most well-known beach of the North Paulista Coast, Maresias attracts surfers in search of the perfect wave, upper class people who keep impeccable beachside mansions, and partiers from around the world looking for exciting nightlife. There are plenty of hotel options, and plenty of chances to bump into someone famous.
- Guaecá. This beach has just some houses and soft sands, and is popular with foreigners, families, gays, and nature-lovers. You can see the south part of Ilhabela from this beach.
- Centro. This beach has infrastructure, historical spots, and exciting nightlife. The ferry to Ilhabela departs from here.
- Costa Norte. The beaches of the north coast towards Caraguatatuba have calm, level water and are frequented by fishermen.
São Sebastião is a relatively safe city. During the summer, large numbers of tourists come to the city, which also attracts criminal activity (pickpocketing, grand theft auto, home invasion, etc). However, police will always provide more officers and cars to the city during that season to even the odds. Just apply commons sense and you'll probably be fine: avoid dark streets at night, pay attention to your valuables, never leave your car unlocked, etc.)
When in the beach, try not to leave your belongings alone when going for a swim. If you're in a relatively large group (say, 6 people or more), it might be a good idea to have at least one person at a time to stay on the sand to look after cellphones, etc.
- Beira Praia Shopping, Avenida Walkir Vergani, 614 - Boiçucanga (alt. Rio-Santos Highway km 163), ☎ +55 12 3865-4255. Mo-Th 10AM-8PM, Fr-Sa 10AM-10PM, Su 10AM-6PM.
- Banana´s, Rod. Prestes Maia - Praia Preta, ☎ +55 12 3863-1644.
- Bangalôo Super Club, Estr. do Cambury, 710 - Camburi, ☎ +55 12 3865-2135.
- Bar do Pirata, Avenida Mãe Bernarda, 1605 - Juquehy, ☎ +55 12 3863-2213.
- Brasil Praia Bar, Rua Francisco Loup, 333 - Maresias, ☎ +55 12 3865-6788.
- O Galeão, Estrada de Camburi, 79 - Camburi, ☎ +55 12 3865-1515.
- Morocco Dining Club, Rua Sirena, 375 - Maresias, ☎ +55 12 3865-5015.
- Sirena, Rua Sirena, 418 - Maresias, ☎ +55 12 3077-0020.
- Aquarela Pousada, Avenida Guanabara, 526 - Maresias, ☎ +55 11 5092-6251.
- Canoa Hotel, Av. Magno Passos Bittencourt, 326 - Barra do Una, ☎ +55 12 3867-1313.
- Coconut's Maresias Hotel, Avenida Francisco Loup, 1090 - Maresias, ☎ +55 12 3865-6740.
- Hotel Pousada Camburi Praia, Estrada de Camburi, 1154 - Camburi, ☎ +55 12 3865-1711.
- Maresias Beach Hotel, Avenida Francisco Loup, 1109 - Maresias, ☎ +55 12 3891-7500.
- Pousada Ilhas Helênicas, Avenida Guanabara, 196 - Maresias, ☎ +55 12 3865-5074. A GLS pousada.
- Pousada Piccolo Albergo, Rua Nova Iguaçu, 1989 - Maresias, ☎ +55 12 3865-6227.
- Summer Club Hotel, Estrada do Cascalho, 1270 - Boiçucanga, ☎ +55 12 3865-1745.
- Toca da Praia, Maresias (300 meters from the beach).
- Che Lagarto Hostel Maresias, Rua Silvina Auta Salles 44, Maresias, ☎ +55 12 3865-6107, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Prices from 21USD. Two types of rooms: shared and private (private have access to a parking lot). Breakfast, pulic kitchen and WIFI included in the fee.
São Sebastião is reasonably safe. In 2011, the robbery rate was around 1.85%, comparable to cities like Long Beach or San Diego, and three times lower than São Paulo's most popular beach town, Guarujá.
- Camburi and Camburizinho are beach communities which, though technically part of São Sebastião, are around 40 mins drive south along the BR101. Camburi is considered by Paulistas as one of the best beaches on their coastline. There are also quite a few small restaurants and bars along the road going through Camburi. Camburizinho beach is right next door or there are lots of beaches all along this stretch of coastline.
- Ilhabela, accessible only from São Sebastião by ferry, is an archipelago with nature still mostly intact.
|Routes through São Sebastião|
|Santos ← Bertioga ←||S N||→ Caraguatatuba → Ubatuba|