beach in Santarém, Pará, Brazil

Alter do Chão is a beach town and an administrative district of the municipality of Santarém, in the state of Pará, 37 km (about an hour) south of the center of the city via road PA-457, on the right bank of the Tapajós River. It is the main tourist point of Santarém as, according to the English newspaper The Guardian, it is home to the most beautiful freshwater beach in the world, leading to it being popularly known as the Brazilian Caribbean.

Beach in Alter do Chão

Understand edit

The town fills up during weekends. Also, the size of the beaches vary depending on the season. During rainy season many beaches disappear altogether.

Be especially careful of stingrays when visiting some of the more remote beaches in the area. They will only sting when stepped on, so shuffle your feet when you walk in the water.

It has a permanent population of 6,700 people.

Get in edit

  • Buses leave Santarém for Alter do Chão approximately every 35 minutes from 05:30 until 23:00. Catch them along Avenida Rui Barbosa in the centre of town or at the Praça Tiradentes bus stand. (R$3.5)
  • Santarém International Airport - Maestro Wilson Fonseca is around 30 km away from Alter do Chão. There is no bus that runs the airport-Alter route, so you can get a quote from the taxi drivers from the airport or go to Santarem and from there get a bus. The cheapest way is to take an airport-Santarém bus (R$ 2) and ask where you can get another Santarém-Alter bus.

Get around edit

Alter do Chão is small enough to walk around.

  • To get to Ilha do Amor you can either swim or hire a canoe for R$ 3 for up to four people. During the dry season there are several places where you can wade across in water that is no more than about 60 cm deep.

See edit

  • Carimbó. See a presentation of this musical style.
  • Festa Folclórica do Sairé (Festa do Sairé), Sairódromo, or Praça do Sairé, Alter do Chão. Held between June and September.

Do edit

  • Flona do Tapajós. Bathing in beaches and streams; Trekking through large trees of Amazonian vegetation, such as the giant kapok (Ceiba pentandra), the flour house, the production of ecological leather, the sustainable forest management project and the production of handcrafted furniture; Wildlife observation; Boat and canoe trips through igapó and igarapés; Overnight allowed in communities; Sport fishing; Research and teaching activities; Visit to the tower of the LBA Project; Visitation to indigenous communities. R$ 6.50.
  • Morro da Piroca (walk up the beach on the west side of Ilha de Amor; look for a red and white sign near the trees for the trail entrance; then follow the very obvious and well marked trail to the top; there is one junction on the way where you should continue straight (don't turn right)). Panoramic view of the region. Hiking trails of medium difficulty, with the journey time being approximately 45 min. Do not forget to bring water and sunscreen (trail is exposed in several places).

Buy edit

Eat edit

  • Amazônia Pizza, rua Raimundo Branco 339, +55 93 991 86 04 59, . F-Su 19:30-23:30. Traditional pizza from a wood oven. Natural environment. There's a garden with lounge music. R$ 30-50.
  • Restaurante e Pizzaria Alter, Praça central. The owner is Italian and it is recommended to order a pizza or fish. average of R$ 18.
  • X bom - Alter Do Chão, Travessa Rouxinol. dinner time. Traditional and innovative (fish) hamburgers. Delicious and refreshing frozen juices from the suceria next door. Burgers average R$ 15. Juices R$5-7.

Drink edit

Sleep edit

Budget edit

  • Sleep on Ilha do Amor for free! Just find two trees and hang your hammock.
  • Albergue da Floresta - Popular with backpackers. R$15 for hammock space. Free kitchen use. A bit of a walk from the main square. R$5 per day to store your luggage while you go on a tour.
  • Pousada Alter do Chão - R$ 30 for a single with ceiling fan. R$ 10 per additional person. Includes a big breakfast. Good location. Free wifi.
  • Comuníndios - Altar do Xá. Camping or redário (hammock space in a shed) for R$ 10 in a site that looks like a jungle. Kitchen is crude but fully functional and for free. Wi-fi internet is slow but works. This happens to be a place where they prepare ahayuasca and make ceremonies, in case you're interested or want to avoid it.
  • Iguana Camping. Near the shore, R$ 15 per person, communal kitchen provided.

Connect edit

Stay Safe edit

Alter do Chão is perhaps the preeminent tourist town on the banks of the Amazon. In high and low season one encounters plenty of tourists from North America and Europe. There clearly is more affluence in the village and its businesses than in nearby ones; there are regular police patrols and one doesn’t see clear signs of poverty as one sees in some other parts of Brazil. In other words one just doesn’t get the sense that one needs to be very cautious as can happen elsewhere in Brazil. One presumes that the town has found effective ways to discourage the petty crime one knows from elsewhere.

Go next edit

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