Natal was founded in the 16th century, but unlike other Brazilian capitals, this one didn't follow after Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo. Instead, this sand-swept city purposefully plodded along, piecing itself together a little at a time. Natal's moment has finally come, and great numbers of domestic and international tourists are lining up at the city’s gateway of Fernando de Noronha Airport.
Sand factors into everything in Natal. Most notably, it sweeps itself into massive dunes that loom on every side of town. Tourists can charter a buggy for off-road exploration of the dunes, or they can simply admire them from the balcony of their hotel in Natal center. This is the kind of resort town that invites guests to do as much, or as little, as they're inclined.
With that in mind, the real sandy attraction here is the beach. Natal doesn't have the historic character of other Brazilian cities, but it's hard find fault with that when the beach and resorts are so ideal. In the past, Praia do Meio
and Praia do Aristas were the main beaches, but favor has fallen to the south on Ponta Negra
in recent years. It's especially attractive for surfers and those who aspire to learn.
Ponta Negra Beach, especially the 'alto' region above it, remains a favorite location after sunset, when its waterfront restaurants and bars light up. The scene is constantly evolving, but this broad, sandy beach still hosts the best collection of shops, cafés, and accommodation in Natal.
Be sure to check out the interactive map of Natal for information on hotel locations, attractions, and must-see destinations.