On this post I will highlight the places we visited and the best things to see and best things to do in Praia Grande.
I lived in Praia Grande (Long Beach) from the age of 6 until I left Brazil when I was 27 years old. I saw the changes of the city from when it was only a wild beach resort without much infrastructure to the modern dormitory city it is today.
This is where the “paulistas” (people from São Paulo capital) come to spend their weekends and summer holidays.
The city transforms itself overnight and from ghost town it becomes a major metropolis, for the despair of the people who permanently live there.
It is a nice holiday resort, and the main attraction is the beach, but there are also a few landmarks that elevate this city.
A LITTLE BIT ABOUT PRAIA GRANDE
Praia Grande today is a municipality of São Paulo State, but it was part of São Vicente until 1967 when it was politically emancipated.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s tourism in Praia Grande was reduced to the day tourists that could not afford longer periods at the seaside. There was no infrastructure to accommodate these tourists in any way, as they came for day excursions, by coaches, bringing their own food and leaving their rubbish behind when they left.
Things started to change in 1993 when the beach front was urbanized. Today the city is completely urbanized and is the 4th most wanted tourist destination in the state of São Paulo.
The access to Praia Grande from São Paulo is via “Rodovia dos Imigrantes” (Immigrants Motorway) and via “Ponte Pênsil” (Suspension Bridge) in São Vicente, and also the “Ponte do Mar Pequeno” (Bridge of the Small Sea).
It is about 75 km from São Paulo capital, and you can get there in less than an hour, provided it’s not a long weekend or high season, when everybody decides to go to the beach for the weekend.
Praia Grande is 22,5 kilometres long and it has 12 neighbourhoods or “praias” (beaches), from the busiest to the calmest.
The beaches are: “Forte”, “Boqueirão”, “Guilhermina”, “Aviação”, “Tupi”, “Ocian”, “Mirim”, “Maracanã”, “Caiçara”, “Real”, “Flórida”, and “Solemar”.
On this post I’m going to mention some of these beaches and what to see on each one of them.
VISITING PRAIA GRANDE
At the entrance of the city there is the “Palácio das Artes” (The Art’s Palace). It is a building where you find a library, an art gallery, a museum, and two theatres. All the arts concentrated in the same place.
Starting at “Praia do Forte” (Fort’s Beach) one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the town and where “Fortaleza de Itaipú” (Itaipu’s Fort) is.
This is a barracks of the Brazilian Army and can be visited on weekends. It is located within the “Mata Atlântica” (Atlantic Forest) and there are wonderful views of Santos Bay, São Vicente, and Praia Grande from those viewpoints.
The history of the place is narrated by one of the army soldiers that act as guides on the visits to the buildings. According to online reviews it is an excellent option for a weekend visit, but the visit needs to be booked in advance.
Moving on we arrive in “Boqueirão”, the main and very first neighbourhood of the city. This is the first beach you see when you arrive in Praia Grande, where most of the commerce, banks, and other facilities are located.
There are many residential buildings as well, and that’s where my family lived when we first moved to Praia Grande from São Paulo.
In Boqueirão you will find the “Estátua de Santo Antonio” (Saint Antonio’s Statue) by the local artist Edson Mônaco in front of the “ Igreja de Santo Antonio” (Saint Anthony’s Church), facing the front of the beach.
This is the beach where I used to lay on for hours with friends and enjoyed the sun on my teenager years. Later, we moved to “Praia do Forte” and again to “Praia da Guilhermina”, just before moving from Brazil.
Driving on the main road on the beach front you continue until you get to “Cidade Ocian” (Oceanic City), another beach neighbourhood.
The attraction there, besides the beach, is the “Estátua de Netuno” (Neptune’s Statue). Neptune was the God of the seas in Greek mythology. It is a big statue made in bronze and became a popular monument since it’s inauguration in 1956.
Further down you will get to “Mirim Beach” and the attraction here is the “Estátua de Iemanjá” at nine metres high.
“Iemanjá” is a major water spirit from the Yoruba religion (from Southwestern Nigeria), and the syncretic Candomblé and Umbanda religions of Brazil (which are extremely popular).
Her day is commemorated on December 8th and every year on this date thousands of people go to the seaside to pay their promises and to worship Iemanjá.
Praia Grande is a very modern resort with high rise buildings in the beach front. It is a very busy resort and on school holidays gets really packed.
If you are looking for quiet and peace, this is not the place for you, unless you base yourself further away in “Flórida Beach” or “Solemar”, which are much calmer.
Whatever you are looking for on a visit to Praia Grande, you can be sure that it will be a great choice to spend a few days at the beach.
HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR VISIT
Below you will find a list of what to visit, where to stay and where to eat in Praia Grande. I classified each place as follows:
BOLD – Visited, tried and recommended
NOT BOLD – Not visited or tried, but planning to visit or try and heard very good reviews
*** – Excellent
** – Good
* – OK
£££ – Expensive
££ – Fair and affordable
£ – Cheap
WHAT TO SEE IN PRAIA GRANDE
1 – Neighbourhood Beaches – ***
2 – Palácio da Artes – ***
3 – Fortaleza de Itaipú – ***
4 – Estátua de Santo Antonio – ***
5 – Estátua de Netuno – ***
6 – Estátua de Iemanjá – ***
WHERE TO STAY IN PRAIA GRANDE
1 – Hotel Araguaia – ££
2 – SW Praia Hotel – ££
3 – Apto Classe and Conforto – ££
4 – Apto Seaviews – São Vicente – *** – ££
WHERE TO EAT IN PRAIA GRANDE
1 – Restaurante Caiçara – *** – ££
2 – Spontanea Restaurant & Pizzaria – *** – ££
3 – Sentitis – ££
If you tried any of my recommendations above, please send me a message and tell me about your experience good or bad, so I can update the list accordingly. Thanks!
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