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Situated on the north coast of the lush region of Santa Catarina, Porto Belo is a natural harbour which has long been a haven for ships travelling to and from the golden beaches of Rio de Janeiro. Not that Porto Belo is destined to languor in the shadow of its famous counterparts.
Welcomed by a wooden pier and a waterfront framed by innumerable sails of colourful private yachts, you will come to understand the enchanting allure that brings tourists flocking here from the more fast-paced locales further south. The laid-back atmosphere of its bright white marinas is sure to reel you in as expertly as the fishermen who ply their trade by the rocky outcrops offshore.
There are easier to reach beaches on the coast of Santa Catarina, but once you've seen the secluded beauty of the Beach Shipyard, you'll be glad that you made the trek through the thick forest surrounding it. The isolation of this cove means you won't be finding many amenities, but neither will you find the crowds. The languid current of the emerald green waters make it a superb spot for diving, along with the diversity of the marine life.
For a look at fish, shrimp and sea turtles in their natural habitats, make sure to explore towards the fringes of the 80m stretch of sand, and take in some rock pools near the steepest inclines of the forest groves.
Camboriu, just a few miles up the coast from Porto Belo, is home to a plethora of lush parks, but this six-hectare urban reserve is one of the most spectacular. There's a half mile of hiking trail to find here, as well as cable car system that can give you an unprecedented view of the whole parkway. From Barra Sul, simply hop on one of the cars, and you'll be taken to the summit of the 240 metres high peak of Morro da Aguada, for an even more sublime view of the scenery.
Ilha de Porto Belo
This is the nature reserve attached to the township proper, but its well worth exploring alongside the delight in the centre. The reserve is home to green turtles and countless species of fish, all of which flourish in their natural habitats. There's also a well-worn hiking trail that can take you to grand heights and panoramic views. The snorkelling spots are also sublime, especially when you take along one of the many talented guides who sell their services upon the beachheads.
The authentic township isn't really in tune with big brands and shopping franchises, but you will find a local arts scene worth exploring. There are numerous galleries and workshops in the surrounding villages selling jewellery, wooden carvings and garments for your delectation.
Bar Bodega do Porto is a rollicking nightclub in the evenings, but its lunchtime menu is sublime, giving travellers a taste of the local seafood and produce that you can't afford to miss.
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or a FREE three-night post-cruise Rio land adventure
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