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The Reefs of Maragogi Grant Rare Tones of Green and Blue to the Water

11/21/2013 - 09h34

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GUSTAVO SIMON
FROM SÃO PAULO

Shallow and calm. This is the Maragogi sea, north of Alagoas, about 130 km from the capital. And this sea, too, is a rare variety of shades of blue and green. Blame the reefs, 6km (3.7 miles) from the coast, protecting the shoreline.

They protect and form a handful of pools that garnered fame for the city of 30,000 inhabitants. It's part of an area known as the Coral Coast - a region that is also the largest marine conservation area in the country.

It is precisely for the pools (Galés, the most famous, Taocas, Barra Grande and Barreira de Peroba) that dozens of catamarans filled with tourists flock there every day.

For about R$60 (US$26) (the amount varies depending on the tour agency; most hotels and inns organize trips), they can spend two hours adrift, basking in the sunlight or exploring the lush fauna under the clear water. Catamarans do not run every day because the tide needs to be over 0.7 meters (2 feet).

In the majority of them, shallow, a face mask and snorkel are enough for some pleasurable activity (they are available to rent for about R$10 (US$4)). In some places diving cylinders can be rented, multiplying the observation of species.

In the absence of a tide to visit the pools, asking the catamaran captain sail close to the shore is one way to go. Or, simply enjoy on land.

If you're tired of one beach, there are more than a dozen others. And to access them, a buggy is almost an official vehicle.

For R$200 (US$88) for four people, the beaches of nearby Japaratinga can be crossed - like Bitingui and São Bento, where it is also possible to walk 500 meters into the sea, at low tide - up to the most northern point.

Many times, those who go to Maragogi - alongside Guarapari (ES), the only Brazilian to appear in a ranking of one hundred of the most cost-effective destinations from the German hotel research site Trivago - don't leave the hotels; the main ones, like Salinas and the Grand Oca are mega-resorts.

But it is worth it to take a break from the all-inclusive meals and explore the surrounding area. Whether it's a visit to neighboring cities like busy São Miguel dos Milagres or the quiet Porto de Pedras, the local centers should be explored.

Over there, the best attractions are the craft fairs held every afternoon on the boardwalk and the beach town of São Bento. It is there that there is a concentration of familiar "bolo de goma" factories, the sequilho; enter one of these places and understand how the women shape the dough with scissors to form shells.

Don't expect luxury, but there aren't many who don't leave without at least a bag of warm cookies (500g for R$9 (US$4)).

Journalist GUSTAVO SIMON traveled at the invitation of the Department of Tourism of Maragogi.

Translated by STEVE HUGHES

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