Anyone arriving in the city of Maceió is immediately impressed by the bewildering beauty of the waters that surround it – the verdant sea and the Mundaú lagoon.
The beaches and walks are the main tourist attractions of the city.
Taking a raft trip to the natural pools of Pajuçara is a must, as well as enjoying the look of Ponta Verde, with coconut trees for no nature lover to fault.
Jatiúca, with stronger waves, is ideal for those who prefer rough seas and to eat a delicious tapioca.
Maceió still has the feel of a country town and a slower pace than other Brazilian capitals, and this is one of its great charms.
Although it is relatively small, tourists who visit it have quality restaurants, a good hotel network and entertainment.
Quite appropriately, the Indians called this piece of land “maҫayó” or “maҫaio-k”, which in Tupi means something like “what covers the flooded area”.
The word would give rise to the name of this former sesmaria, which was elevated to the status of a town in 1815 and in 1839 became the capital of Alagoas.
Amongst its cinematographic beaches, Pajuҫara, famous for its natural swimming pools, and Frances, in the municipality of Marechal Deodoro, with calm waters on one side and waves suitable for surfing on the other, will always be remembered.
Maceió can be used as a base for day trips to towns such as Barra de São Miguel (40 kilometres away), Maragogi (130 kilometres) and Penedo (160 kilometres), which are mandatory itineraries for tourism in Alagoas.
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Maceió’s Main Tourist Sites
1. MACEIÓ URBAN BEACHES AND SURROUNDINGS
1.1 Ipioca Beach
Located in Maceió, less than 25 kilometres from the city centre, Ipioca Beach has one of the most beautiful landscapes in all of Northeast Brazil.
Very preserved and full of beautiful coconut trees on the shore, it offers waters in vibrant blue and green tones and stretches of white sand, which make up a beautiful setting in the fishing village.
With a calm sea, you can enjoy a beautiful and relaxing walk to the natural pools. In addition, you can practice snorkelling, a water sport that allows you to dive and enjoy the charm of marine life.
Catamaran rides are also a great option for you to enjoy or you can rent boards and kayaks to venture out in a more individual way.
At Mirante de São Gonçalo, you can enjoy one of the most beautiful views of the region and observe one of the most beautiful beaches in Maceió.
Be sure to visit it with your family and friends.
Ipioca Beach is a great destination for those looking for tranquillity. So, rest on the sun loungers or hammocks and enjoy a relaxing massage service, all in the shade of a beautiful coconut tree.
The place also has a restaurant called Hibiscus, a kind of Beach Club, where you can enjoy a varied menu with snacks and very refreshing drinks.
You also have the option to visit Paripueira Beach, which is 27 km from Maceió and enjoy the beaches of Maceió.
1.2 Pajuҫara Beach
Pajuçara Beach is located in one of the noble neighbourhoods of Maceió.
It is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful beaches in the state of Alagoas and also in the whole of the Brazilian Northeast.
On the beach and its surroundings, there is a super interesting infrastructure with cycle paths, sports courts, walking trails, stalls, restaurants and the famous Pajuçara Craft Fair.
On the waterfront promenade, there is always a large flow of people and this can be a great sign if you are a person who likes a crowded environment. You can enjoy the beautiful natural pools formed by the reefs.
To see these crystal-clear waters, you’ll need to take a raft, which has a strong presence of accordion players, who ensure that visitors are entertained. You can also practice some water activities, such as diving and jet-skiing.
Pajuçara Beach stands out for having a rare beauty: crystal clear waters, soft sand with a colour close to golden and beautiful coconut trees that give a green touch to the landscape. While enjoying this beautiful scenery, be sure to savour the local cuisine, as you will be surprised by seafood-based dishes, washed down with fresh coconut milk.
There is one very important piece of information about Pajuçara Beach: you need to check the “bathing reports”, as there are periods when the water is not good for diving.
And before you leave, you can’t miss the opportunity to buy beautiful souvenirs made of leather, clay and lace that are made by locals and sold at the street market, so you will keep a great memory of this paradise in Maceio.
1.3 Ponta Verde Beach
Ponta Verde Beach is located in Maceió, in the neighbourhood of the same name, between the beaches of Jatiúca and Pajuçara. Being another paradise of Alagoas and one of the best urban beaches, it has a calm sea, soft sand, a beautiful light green sea, and coconut trees by the sea.
The beachfront has many options of bars, stalls and kiosks, where you can enjoy the snacks on the menu and taste the tasty fruit drinks.
Also, if you are a more nocturnal person, you can enjoy the blues, pop rock and DJ groups that rock the nights on weekends.
If you are looking for a region with stunning views and plenty of tranquillity, you can go to Ponta Verde Beach for outdoor walks, either walking or cycling. If you’re more into adventure, you can practise water sports such as stand-up paddle and kayaking.
If there’s something you can’t miss, it’s visiting the natural pools that form when the tide is low. In addition, it is at this time that you can walk very close to the Ponta Verde Lighthouse.
But, as with Pajuçara Beach, you need to consult the “bathing reports” to make sure that the water is good for bathing or “unfit”, this will depend on the indication of the places.
Enjoy the stunning landscape that forms with the sunset and take lots of pictures to keep this moment forever.
1.4 Jatiúca Beach
Located in the noble neighbourhood of the same name in Maceió, Jatiúca Beach is one of the most renowned beaches in Alagoas.
Being an urban beach, it has one of the most beautiful shores of the state, with a sea of crystal clear and transparent waters, soft sands and reddish colour, besides several coconut trees scattered.
Its avenue has several options of restaurants, snack bars and bars, where you can taste snacks and have refreshing drinks, in addition, of course, to a very strong regional cuisine, present in beautiful dishes such as cassava with sun-dried meat and tapioca.
Tapioca is a great option for snacking. The tapioqueiras usually work in the middle of the afternoon and also at night.
Take the opportunity to take a walk along the cycle path or go for a walk on the jogging track. Jatiúca Beach has luxurious waves that favour surfing.
There is a strong tradition of kitsurfing and windsurfing championships, so take the opportunity to see beautiful water sports events.
Be sure to enjoy the nights of Jatiúca, as it is the point of the region.
1.5 Cruz das Almas Beach
In addition to the large and strong waves that the sea of the beach has, it still hides submerged reefs, and those who practice surfing in the region should be careful with them.
The main beachfront has recently been urbanised and the cross roads have been resurfaced.
It now has several leisure facilities, wider lanes, courts, walkway, bike path, amphitheatre, among several other services that make the beach more pleasant to visit.
As it is not a beach favourable for bathing, this beach is quite quiet in general and although it has a very pleasant climate, most families do not go to the sea, precisely because of the very strong waves.
Most visitors are surf lovers, who travel to Cruz das Almas Beach in search of the perfect wave.
The narrow strip of sand is reddish in colour, and one part of the beach is covered in grass.
A curiosity: this beach was named Cruz das Almas because it was once a cemetery. Currently, Cruz das Almas Beach is called Lagoa da Anta Beach.
1.6. Gunga Beach
Although it is not exactly located in the city of Maceió, you can easily make a round trip. Gunga Beach is located in the municipality of Roteiro, just 50 minutes from the capital.
It is 130 km long with great leisure options, such as buggy or quad rides, which take you to the incredible cliffs, passing through the coconut trees.
You can also go snorkelling in Lagoa do Roteiro, take a delicious boat ride and, after lunch, visit the Gunga viewpoint.
If you want to venture further, there are water activities such as banana boat, jet ski, flyboard, paraglider and even ultralights.
And, in addition to this beautiful scenery, you can visit other beaches without much difficulty, as they are close to Praia do Gunga.
The months of August and November are the period when the amount of people is lower, so it is worth the visit.
2. PAJUÇARA CRAFT FAIR
The traditional fair was held in the open until 2002, when it was covered. It has now become a kind of market, with around 200 stalls selling various types of handicrafts.
Located near the place where the rafts leave for the natural pools, the market is busiest in the late afternoon, when there are performances by forró groups. Av. Dr Antonio Gouveia, s/n, Pajucara Beach.
3. SCOUT RIDE THROUGH THE NINE ISLANDS OF MACEIÓ
The best known boat trip in Maceió passes through nine of the 32 islands of the Mundaú and Manguaba lagoons.
With an approximate duration of two hours, the tour leaves from Pontal da Barra and is worth it above all for the dazzle that is the meeting of the water of the lagoons with that of the sea.
During the journey, the guides often tell curious details about each island; Fogo, for example, would have that name because it was home to a cachaya factory, whose workers never missed a chance to taste it – in full working hours.
Several boats make the trip, which leaves from Pontal da Barra every day at 9.30 and 15.30.
4. CATAMARAN RIDE THROUGH PARIPUEIRA
The longest coral reef in the country leaves from Paripueira beach, 32 kilometres from Maceió, and extends to Porto de Galinhas, in Pernambuco.
When the tide is low, it is possible to walk about 1 kilometre out to sea, with the water up to your knees.
The catamaran ride lasts about two hours, including a stop for snorkelling.
In the programme, the tourist is accompanied by biologists.
Tickets are bought at the Mar e Cia restaurant, but it is important to confirm the time of departure, which depends on the tide table.
5. BAIRRO JARAGUÁ IN MACEIÓ
For centuries, Jaraguá was the most important area of the city.
Close to the centre and Pujuҫara, the neighbourhood began to form in the 16th century, as the ships that would be loaded with brazilwood stopped there.
The growth of the sugar trade also contributed to its expansion. By the second half of the 1800s, imposing townhouses and large shops, especially those selling fabrics and shoes, could be seen.
The decline in business led to degradation, and Jaraguá became a neighbourhood of the meretricious. Since 1995, a well-organised project has been reversing the situation.
The neighbourhood has been listed as a historical heritage site and is once again attracting the attention of tourists. Walking through it is like revisiting a glittering past, visible in the old mansions and warehouses now transformed into bars and concert halls that liven up the area’s nightlife.
One of Jaraguá’s postcards is the 1926 building of the Commercial Association of Alagoas. Designed by José Paulino de Albuquerque Lins, it has neoclassical lines, like those of the Alagoas Museum of Image and Sound (Misa).
Built in 1869 to a design by the English engineer Carlos Mornay, it housed the municipal Customs House; today, the Misa has an exhibition hall on the first floor and an auditorium on the second floor, which hosts a regular programme of concerts.
In the same neighbourhood is the Théo Brandão Museum.
6. THÉO BRANDÃO MUSEUM
The collection of this museum dedicated to popular culture, donated to the Federal University of Alagoas by the doctor and folklorist Théo Brandão (1907-81), is composed of objects representative of Northeastern culture and pieces from other regions of Brazil and countries such as Portugal, Spain and Mexico.
Local handicrafts include the anthropomorphised moringas of Júlio Rufino and the ceramics of the masters Vitalino and No Caboclo.
Distributed in thematic rooms, the museum also brings together clothing, toys, ex-votos, woodcut matrices and specimens of primitive pharmacology, among other materials.
There is also an auditorium where folkloric groups perform every Thursday at 7pm, as well as a library, shop and café. Av. Da Paz, 1490, jaraguá.
7. PIERRE CHALITA ART MUSEUM
In the basement are paintings by modern Brazilian painters such as Tarsila do Amaral; on the ground floor are Baroque objects and on the first floor are works by the painter after whom the museum is named.
The museum’s collection comprises part of the 2,270 works belonging to the Pierre Chalita Foundation.
It includes paintings, sculptures, drawings, engravings, decorative objects and a substantial collection of sacred art from Brazil and other countries, dating from the 17th to the 20th centuries. Praҫa Marechal Floriano Peixoto, 44, Centre.
8. DEODORO THEATRE
It has been the centre of Alagoas culture since its inauguration in 1910.
It was named after one of the most illustrious sons of the state – the marshal who in 1889 proclaimed the Brazilian republic, Deodoro da Fonseca.
It has velvet armchairs and a bronze roof. Its regular programme includes plays and music concerts. Praҫa Marechal Deodoro, s/n, Centre.
9. WOMEN RENDEIRES AND OTHER ARTISTS
The Pajuҫara Craft Market reveals the vigour of the production of Maceió’s popular artists (Rua Melo Morais, 617, Levada).
In the so-called Nucleo Artesanal do Pontal da Barra there are more than 250 shops and ateliers, which have made the neighbourhood famous.
The work of the women lace-makers is noteworthy, especially the delicate filé lace, typical of AJagoas, in which fine and colourful threads – according to legend, inspired by the wefts of fishermen’s nets – are transformed into dresses, blouses, towels and capes.
The shops also sell cross-stitch embroidery and redende. The Handicraft Pavilion resembles a shopping centre, with around 150 popular art shops, a food court, a hairdresser and an internet café.
There are items from other states in the Northeast, such as woodcuts by Pernambuco master J. Borges, and various types of handicrafts from Alagoas – such as ouricuri straw work made in the town of Coruripe (Av. Antonio Gouveia, 1447, Ponta Verde).
If you want to go to just one place, the best option is the Armazem do Sebrae, in Jaraguá, where you can find lace and embroidery, sculptures, rugs and quilts (Av. da Paz, 878).
ZUMBI DOS PALMARES
One of the most important chapters in Brazilian history passes through Alagoas.
The state was the scene of the greatest black resistance to slavery, the União dos Palmares, a confederation of quilombos led by Zumbi.
Descended from Angolans, the warrior was born in Palmares, about 70 kilometres from Maceió, in 1655.
Raised by Father Antonio Melo, who baptised him with the name Francisco, he learned Latin and was a choirboy. At the age of fifteen, he fled his protector’s company and adopted the name Zumbi – probably from the African Bantu language.
Back in Palmares, Zumbi joined a community that later grew to about 30,000 inhabitants. There were actually several quilombos, whose inhabitants sought to recover elements of African culture and lived by raising small animals and farming.
The news that escaped slaves were living in freedom prompted the owners of the nearby farms, with the help of the Crown, to send troops to Palmares; for decades, they were repeatedly defeated by the army of quilombolas.
In 1694, during an attack by forces commanded by Domingos Jorge Velho, the black leader was wounded and the community of Palmares was destroyed; a year later, Zumbi was back at the head of the quilombolas.
Surrendered by one of his commanders who had already been captured, he was killed in the Dois Irmãos mountain range in Viҫosa on 20 November 1695, the date chosen to celebrate Black Awareness Day.
His head was displayed in a public square in Recife to serve as an example to those who wished to defy the Portuguese Crown.
Maceió Tourism and Travel Guide