June 02, 2012

Seahorses and Mangroves

On one of our weekend day trips, we headed south just past Porto de Galinhas to Maracaipe.  A good friend had written about what a wonderful time she and her family had had at the beach and also visiting the sea horses so we thought we'd check it out.

The place with the seahorses is at Pontal de Maracaipe. We drove south past Porto de Galinhas and came to the town of Maracaipe.  It's a cute beach town with lots of surfing schools as the waves there are a nice size for surfing and body-boarding.  When we got to the beach, we asked where the pontal was and were told to drive along the beach and turn right when we got to the fazenda (means farm). 

We drove along and at first there were restaurants on one side and the beach with beach snack spots on the other side.  But pretty soon, the paved road seemed to end and it was just a sand trail along the top of the beach.  It seemed pretty well traveled - we were driving with other cars and some dune buggies.   Very quickly, however, it became apparent that it wasn't really a road - just a track in the sand at the top of the beach.  I was worried about getting stuck in the sand, but as long as we kept moving, I felt we were OK.  But then the cars came to a stop - traffic jam up head.  Luckily, we were on a stretch of sand that had been strewn with palm leaves so we were alright.  After the cars started moving again, we came to the turn and I realized why the cars had stopped before.  The right turn we needed to make was perpendicular to the track in the sand, very narrow, with stone walls on either side and a telephone pole at the corner.  There was no way to swing wide to approach it.  The only way I could do it was to slowly ease back and forth into the turn.  And I had to do that because there was no way to turn around and no way to reverse direction all the way back - especially with all the cars behind me.

I started working on the turn and got about half way into it when about 5 or 6 dune buggies came down the road we were trying to head up.  Of course this road was a narrow one lane road as well.  The drivers tried to persuade me to back up so that they could get by, but there was absolutely no way that was going to happen.  Eventually they realized that I wasn't moving and they backed up so that I could finish the turn and head up the road.

Finally we arrived at the pontal.  It was beautiful - shady trees on the water edging the mangrove swamp. 

There were jangadeiras (traditional fishing boats) there waiting to take people into the swamp to see the sea horses. 

We parked the car and got onto a boat and headed into the swamp.

The mangroves grow right in the water - at high tide, even the lower branches are submerged, and at low tide, the mangrove sits on a sandy beach. 

Our guide took us into the swamp and then stopped so we could get out and swim and he went to find some seahorses and other sea creatures for us.

After seeing a lot of wildlife, we headed back to shore and I prepared myself for the drive out.  The road we had come in on was the only way in or out.  I was not looking forward to heading back down that road.  Luckily, a system had been devised by the time we headed back.  Someone at each end would stop the cars going one way and allow the other cars to go through - then they'd reverse direction.  It made it much easier getting out.

 We found a place to park the car and went to one of the beach-side restaurants for lunch and swimming.  We had a whole fish for lunch - delicious!  There was a body-boarding competition going on which was a lot of fun to watch and we also got to play in the waves.  Nice day.


  1. Very trusting outing but I enjoyed reading it. Thanks for posting such a pleasant family adventure day.

  2. LOVE the seahorses!!! Bet the kiddos did too. Thanks for sharing your adventures. I am so enjoying learning about Brazil.

  3. No way - I can't believe you all got to see sea horses!!! How cool. Miss you all!