Jericoacoara – Think sand dunes, warm water, strong winds, and epic kiteboarding sessions. Oh, and a cold Caipirinha while watching the sunset from the sand dunes after a hard day…
What used to be a small fishing village has long become a mecca for wind water sports such as kiteboarding and windsurfing. Located 300 km west of Fortaleza, Jericoacoara, or Jeri as it is commonly known, is a great place to experience windy activities but also to relax, which makes it a good destination for kitesurfing vacation with the family.
We spent a week in Jeri over November, the high season for constant high winds. We really enjoyed the town, with its lay back atmosphere, signless sandy streets, and absence of car traffic. Indeed, the area around Jeri became a National Park in 2002, restricting construction and tourism development to preserve the site. Even though electricity was installed in 1998, there are no street lights either. This made for a cool ambiance in the evenings, with the streets only lit with shops candles or portable lights.
Jeri has a good mix of great windy conditions, good lodging, and restaurants to relax afterward, even with the limited development. The Brazilian culture has a strong presence too with locals enjoying the area which meant the place was not overrun by tourists as that happens in other popular windy spots. It was nice to see Brazilians dancing the Capoeira at night, kids playing around, families walking by the beach.
Watch for the wild donkeys that roam freely on the beach or in the nearby dunes. They were everywhere, sometimes strolling by our hotels as well.
A remote location that might take some work to get to, this is also what makes it a special place, far from everything. A paradise in itself. Watching the sunset over the sand dunes made the journey all worth it, in addition to the amazing wind conditions of course!
Jericoacoara Kiteboarding Spots
Locals will launch in the village and head downwind to Rio Guriú. Prea Beach is another favorite, a wide sandy beach with side-onshore wind just east of Jeri.
Sunset Dune Kite Zone
Endless flat water and a designed area for kiters in Jeri, this area is a naturally sheltered bay surrounded by the sand dunes. As it sits away from the Atlantic Ocean, the spot is protected from the ocean swells. However, the site is under the dunes, which makes the wind side-off and rather gusty.
Rio Guriú Delta
Located west of Jericoacoara, this is a great spot for a downwind from the main launch area in Jeri village. The wind is side – side onshore, with flat water by the delta and waves by the ocean, making the beginning of the downwind challenging with sometimes gusty winds. The river mouth is located about 24 km from Jeri, a 35-minute buggy ride.
Probably the best spot for kiteboarding! The wind is side shore, the beach long and sandy, waves can be small or big depending on the tide – the perfect spot for everyone!
The spot is about 12 km east of Jeri or a 20-minute drive by buggy.
The wind can be strong and gusty, but the water is mostly flat inside the lagoon. The lagoon is best accessed from the beach with a 4×4, depending on the tides. The ride takes about 60 to 80 minutes from Jeri. If you are looking for a lagoon for flatwater kiting, that’s the one to go to!
Seahorses Mangrove Lagoon – aka Marc’s Preferred Kite Spot!
This might not be the correct name but the spot is after the car river crossing – an interesting floating platform that is pushed by poles by the local fishermen – right after the seahorses’ area and the mangrove. A safe spot regularly used by the kite schools, this is a great place for expert kitesurfers alike. Indeed, this is our friend Marc’s preferred location and we could almost name it Marc’s Preferred Kite Spot! He is a frequent visitor at Jeri where he kitesurfed many seasons.
Torta Kite Lagoon
The fresh water lagoon is further inland which weakens the wind and makes it gustier due to the surrounded dunes.
Find your own spot!
Simply rent a buggy and drive a few kilometers until you find an empty beach, just for yourself. Yes, this is what makes Jeri special…
And because we both started as windsurfers, I do want to point out these two spots as well.
Right by the point – hence the name, this spot is windsurf-only. Waves come from the ocean side in the east and turn into the inside of the bay, crashing and turning into flat water. Depending on the wind and tides, it’s a great spot to jump, or simply surf back. The bigger the tides, the bigger the waves, and one can even have water shoulder level. At low tides, the sandy bottom and friendlier waves make it a good area to learn to windsurf and improve skills. It was a good spot for me to practice my water start when I was still windsurfing.
Farol de Jericoacoara
Mostly a spot for advanced windsurfers due to the rocky shore, this is a side-on beach upwind of The Point.
Gear Rental & Lessons
Several kite shops are on site and can help with gear rental and lessons. Club Ventos is the most famous one but other clubs like BLU Kiteschool, Kite Prea, MH Kiteschool, or KiteNomads. From the US, Vela Kitesurf can help organize both accommodations and gear.
What To Do on a No-Wind Day
If beach time is not your thing, here are other activities to enjoy:
- Pedra Furada: A symbol of Jeri, the Arched Rock is a perfect place for fantastic views all around. Photo enthusiasts will want to come in between June 15th and July 30th when the sunset comes through the Arch.
- Horseback Riding: Go for a ride in the dunes, mangroves or on the beach. Check the outfitter before committing as many of the horses might not be treated as well as they should.
- Buggy Riding: A great way to experience the sand dunes behind Jeri.
- Sand Boarding: A cool experience, you just need a board, or even a plastic bag, to go down the sand dunes. Go there at sunset and you will be in for a treat.
- Massage: A welcome treat after a long day on the water, you can organize these from your hotel. A table will be set with view on the beach, just the perfect occasion to relax.
- Kayaking: Perfect to discover in one of the several mangroves.
- Boat riding: Up the Rio Guriú (Guriú River) through the mangrove in search of seahorses.
Watch and learn Capoeira, a martial art combining dance, acrobatics and music, or try Forro, a popular local dance. Or grab a bite by one of the numerous small food stalls selling anything from grilled chicken skewers to melted cheese sticks.
How to Get There
It’s true that Jeri is not easy to get to. International flights come from the major European cities, and local flights from Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Brasilia land in Fortaleza, but the city is still a reach to Jeri. Count at least 4 hours away by taxi and 7 hours by bus. There are about four bus rides from and to Fortaleza. Each bus ride turns into a 4/4 for the last stretch when reaching the dirt road. For those with more funds, it’s possible to take a helicopter ride.
When To Go
The wind is side-offshore and can be gusty at a time. The windy season runs from June to end of December though it’s the strongest from September to November with winds up to 30-35 knots. The period between November to January tends to have more waves. In November, kite sizes would vary from 7 to 9 meters for kiters around 75-85 kgs and 5 meters for smaller weight.
Where To Stay
Jericoacoara is well developed and offers accommodation for all budgets, from low-cost posadas to high-end residence, apartments with kitchen amenities to campsites. We stayed at the Posada Capitao Thomaz right by the waterfront, in a standard room. Rooms were clean, breakfast was well stocked, and the location was great, and the well-priced rooms made it a great choice for us for budget conscious travelers.
Our friends stayed several times at My Blue Hotel which is a more upscale hotel with pool, spa and on-site restaurant. This would be a great option for families.