The hundreds of moored boats that arrive daily on the shores of Angra dos Reis almost make us forget that, a few kilometers away, there are still 29 practically untouched small paradise islands.
This is the Tamoios Ecological Station (ESEC), the federal environmental protection area created in 1990, and now the object of desire of President Jair Bolsonaro, who wants to end restrictions to develop what he has called "Brazilian Cancún".
But those who know both regions say it makes no sense. The Mexican city is famous for its bustling nightlife and all-inclusive resorts that overlook a long stretch of clear water sand.
"They are extremely distinct. Cancun is plain, catches a large stretch of the sea. Angra has a narrow and densely occupied plot of land, and there is no way to build buildings there. People go there just because it doesn't look like Cancun," said José Augusto Morelli, a former Ibama inspector, who fined Bolsonaro for illegal fishing in 2012.
Angra has experienced another problem in recent years: the dominance of criminal factions in favelas. The violence does not touch the tourist areas, says João Willy, president of TurisAngra, but ends up driving away visitors. "The violence of the capital of Rio, which is our main gateway, is already disturbing us." This year the rates of violence fell after a series of actions by the state government and the city government.
Translated by Kiratiana Freelon