Beautiful Beaches And The Biggest Of Falls — Father And Son In Brazil Part 3

Are you ready to get drenched? On this leg of my father-son trip in Latin America, we will encounter falls in more ways than one. And there will be water involved, as well as beautiful coastal scenery. Buckle up, we’re going for a drive!

After enjoying an incredible cruise down the Amazon River with my dad, we flew from Manaus to São Paolo to begin our road trip along Costa Verde. Costa Verde is Brazil’s “Green Coast,” which features a forested mountainous landscape right next to the ocean. It spans the coastline from the state of Rio de Janeiro to the state of São Paolo, and we intended to see as much of it as possible on our six-day road trip.

Beautiful views awaited us on the road ahead.

Shortly after arriving in São Paolo, we met a couple of my friends for dinner. One is a German guy involved in stocks and the other is a Brazilian woman from a German-speaking family, so they could both easily converse with my German father. We enjoyed catching up over a nice dinner at a local steakhouse on our first night in town before our road trip began. 😋

Ready, Set, Road Trip!

The next morning, we rented a car and drove from São Paolo to the coast. The coastline is gorgeous from Ilhabela to Rio de Janeiro, so we figured that taking a road trip in our rental car was the best way to enjoy the views. After picking up the car, we drove through the big city of São Paolo on the highway before hitting the lush and hilly countryside, and then we drove out toward the ocean from there. 🚗

After a beautiful drive through the mountains, we headed down to Caraguatatuba, which is the biggest city on São Paolo’s north shore. From there, we drove to Ubatuba, where we stayed two nights at a very nice posada called Villa Sape Pousada.

The pool at our posada

The posadas in Brazil are basically small boutique luxury hotels often located at the beach. They usually have a good restaurant on the premises, and they typically boast a very high level of service.

Beach views at our posada

We would stay at a few nice posadas throughout our road trip. We spent two days in Ubatuba, two days in Angra Dos Reis, and another two days in Paraty as we slowly made our way up the Brazilian coast.

Praias of Ubatuba

Ubatuba is famous for having over 100 beaches, or “praias” in the local language of Portuguese.

Welcome to Ubatuba

It’s a popular place for surfers and sailors that’s been named “The Surf Capital” of the state of São Paolo. 🏄 We enjoyed driving around Ubatuba to explore many of the city’s various beaches.

One of Ubatuba’s many beautiful beaches

On our first full day in Ubatuba, we took a nice boat trip to see some of the surrounding islands. We hopped on a boat that morning and zipped around between many of the islands.

Our view from the boat

The weather was great, so we had a wonderful time swimming in the ocean and exploring the islands. Our guide barely spoke any English, but we got by without any major issues.

There were many small islands with beautiful beaches to explore.

My father had a lot of fun swimming around the islands, and overall he had a blast exploring Ubatuba.

We saw this activity, which looked like a ton of fun, but I decided not to tempt fate by sticking my dad in a bubble in the ocean. 😂

That evening, we had a delicious dinner at a local restaurant. We noticed that there were a ton of people and a tremendous amount of traffic in Ubatuba, but we still had a great time there.

Enjoying Paraty

The morning after our boat tour in Ubatuba, we skipped town and continued driving another 70 kilometers to Paraty.

A glimpse of the beach in Trindade as we drove along the coast

Paraty is a popular tourist destination in the state of Rio de Janeiro. It’s famous for having a historic colonial center paved with very old cobblestones, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019.

The old city

As I mentioned in the previous installments, my dad’s mobility is a bit restricted due to some medical conditions, but we still enjoyed taking a nice long walk through the city of Paraty.

Exploring Paraty by foot

At some point, we hired a horse-drawn carriage to show us around the whole city without exhausting my dad, which turned out to be a great idea to see more of the city than we could have managed on foot.

Finding hidden streets in the old city center

We didn’t take a boat trip in Paraty, but we enjoyed driving around the city to explore, and we ate at some good restaurants there too.

There was no need to take a boat to get great waterfront views.

The next day, we went to Paraty-Mirim State Park, which hosts the ruins of a formerly significant port. The port there used to haul loads of gold, coffee beans, and slaves, but it was largely abandoned in the 1800s. In addition to the ruins, Paraty-Mirim also has a lovely beach, a river, an indigenous reserve, and lots of lush vegetation. We had a good lunch at a beach-side restaurant and were just about ready to start exploring when some incredibly heavy rain started to dump down on us. 🌧 It was difficult to see much of Paraty-Mirim in the pouring rain, but we still enjoyed spending some time at the beach there.

Enjoying a beer at the beach with my dad before the rain came down 🍻

We had a great time making our way around Paraty. We ate some good food, explored the beaches, swam around a bit, and just drove around enjoying the beautiful landscape. The lush green mountains of Costa Verde were absolutely beautiful, and we enjoyed immersing ourselves in nature and relaxing on the beach.

A beautiful bird’s eye view of Paraty

A Mixed Blessing in Angra Dos Reis

We left Paraty the next morning and drove further north along the coast to the big city of Angra Dos Reis. There, we were surprised to find a big nuclear power station among all the incredible nature of Costa Verde.

A nuclear power plant just where you’d least expect it

We spent a couple of days in Angra Dos Reis, where we stayed at a very nice posada called Pousada Mestre Augusto. On our first afternoon in town, we just hung out at the posada and had a good dinner there. We swam in the pool and played a few chess matches, as usual. 🤓

The nice view from our posada

On our second day in town, we took another boat trip to visit the islands around Angra Dos Reis, the most famous of which is Ilha Grande.

A tiny island off the coast

Ilha Grande is a large island that’s popular for tourists to walk around to see the flora and fauna, but as I said, my father can’t do too much hiking in his condition. Instead of spending a lot of time walking around Ilha Grande, we took a boat around the islands to swim in the ocean and do some snorkeling.

Our boat waiting nearby as we enjoyed the beach

We had an incident on that boat trip that was both lucky and unlucky at the same time. My dad somehow fell out of the boat, which destroyed his cell phone when he hit the water.

To be fair, there are much worse places to fall into the water than here. 😅

I know that sounds like a clear-cut case of bad luck, but during our time in Brazil up to that point, my father had incurred over €1500 of roaming charges on his phone. I had explicitly told him not to do that and advised him to purchase a special roaming plan for his phone instead, but he did not heed my advice. I was actually relieved when his phone broke because I knew that at the end of our trip, he would expect me to pay his phone bill since he doesn’t have extra money for expenses like that.

The seagulls watched this whole event unfold. 🤣

Unfortunately, he lost his photographs of many memories from the trip along with his phone, but that wasn’t a big problem because later I sent him the pictures that I’d taken of our time together.

My father was glad to receive these photos at the end of our trip.

Also unluckily, it was very challenging for my dad to climb the ladder back onto the boat after he fell, but we managed it, and he wasn’t injured by his fall.

Luckily it wasn’t rocky where he fell in!

A Near “Accident”

On the last day of our father-son road trip through Brazil, we drove from Angra Dos Reis to Rio de Janeiro and then back to the airport there. I had done a lot of driving over the last few days, but I was still pretty nervous to drive the car through Rio. 😬 Driving around the coast had been easy enough, but I was afraid to deviate too far from the highway and end up having issues driving trying to drive through a favela. And, believe it or not, that’s exactly what occurred.

Say goodbye to Angra Dos Reis.

Our day began pleasantly enough as I drove along the beautiful coastline all the way from Angra Dos Reis to Rio de Janeiro. At some point in the suburbs around the city, I strayed off course to find some landmarks, viewpoints, and tourist sites, but I ended up getting lost. We were slightly short on time because we had a flight to catch, so I had to make some tough decisions with the navigation. We ended up hitting a lot of traffic, and then before I knew it, we were driving right through the middle of a favela. 🫣

The favela that we wandered into wasn’t terrible, but it was clearly a low-class neighborhood. I didn’t mind driving through it, but I was afraid to stop. Unsurprisingly, the old man with me realized just then that he very urgently needed to use a bathroom. I stopped the car smack dab in the middle of the favela and my dad begged some local guys to let him use their toilet. I guess they knew that he was desperate, because they let him in to use their bathroom, and we managed to get out of there safely after that. The houses in the favela were very decayed and the streets were full of garbage, so you can understand my hesitation in stopping, but in the end, everything turned out just fine. Luckily, the local people there were very kind, and we could continue safely the rest of the way to the airport.

The run-down favela where my dad had to use a local’s bathroom 🤦‍♂️

We returned our car to the rental agency and took our flight from Rio de Janeiro to Foz do Iguaçu. I booked us a direct flight so that we wouldn’t have to stop through São Paolo again for a layover. This time, we didn’t have any problems with losing my dad’s passport, as we had experienced on our way to Manaus.

Back in Rio

A Natural Wonder of the World

We landed later that evening in Foz do Iguaçu, where we had a tasty dinner at our hotel next to the airport. The next day would be our last in Brazil, although we were still only two-thirds of the way through our trip. In the morning we would visit the Iguaçu waterfalls from the Brazilian side, and then around noon, we would cross the border to Argentina to see the waterfall from that side too. After that, we would fly to Buenos Aires, and then to Mendoza to explore more of Argentina.

The waterfalls in all their glory

Foz do Iguaçu is a city right next to the Iguaçu Falls, which looks a bit like one giant waterfall but actually consists of about 257 individual waterfalls that together create the biggest waterfall system in the world.

If you take a closer look, you can see multiple waterfalls merging.

The waterfalls feature vertical drops varying from 60 to 82 meters in height, which creates a stunning visual effect. These waterfalls have been designated as one of the “New Natural Seven Wonders of the World,” and when you see them up close, it’s obvious to see how they gained that title. 🤩

The Brazilian side of the falls was quite impressive with many spectacular views of the cascading water. We took a bus to the viewpoint, and I led my father around from there.

A different perspective from the viewpoint

He was amazed by the views of the waterfall, and my dad did as much walking as he was comfortable with around the area. Then he sat down at a nice spot where he could watch the waterfalls while I did the full hike around them. After I rejoined him, we took a guided tour to see some of the animals around there.

This little guy is lucky to have a beautiful home.

Finally, we went on a boat tour to see the falls closer up. It was a lot of fun to ride over the river and some small cataracts toward the bigger waterfalls, where we all got soaking wet from the spray.

Splashing our way around the waterfalls 💦💦💦

With everyone on the boat left soaking wet, we disembarked and dripped our way back to the bus stop. Luckily, the climate was nice and hot, so we were able to dry off relatively quickly from our waterfall adventure before boarding the bus.

Next Stop: Argentina!

After exploring the falls, we took the bus back to town and returned to our hotel from there. It was quite an experience for both my father and I to get so close to these amazing waterfalls, and we couldn’t wait to see it again from the Argentinian side later that day.

One last look from the Brazilian side of the falls

Come back next time to join us on the final leg of our journey as I guide my father around some highlights of beautiful Argentina.