Ubatuba is Brazil’s self-proclaimed surfing capital. This laid-back beach city with a funny name and some of the most spectacular beaches in Brazil gave me the opportunity to live a surfer’s life for a few days. I never actually got out into the water to surf, but I had a great time in a house full of surfers.
I arrived by bus from Paraty. At the Paraty bus station, I found two options – Colitur and São José. Colitur is a public bus with more frequent trips. There are no tickets or assigned seats – you pay an attendant on the bus. The worst part is that you must beat the crowd to try to get a space on the bus. If you have luggage or a backpack, it’s not easy to do. I recommend not taking Colitur because the staff was rude and unresponsive and the bus was overcrowded. It’s cheap, but not worth it. A better option is São José, a coach service with a few departures throughout the day. It isn’t much more expensive than Colitur. I only paid BRA$13 for my ticket. You should also know that there are three bus stations in Ubatuba, depending on arrival/destination city.
I stayed at Green Haven Hostel. It’s about a ten minute drive from town with nothing of interest or food options around it, but it was an amazing place to stay. It’s run by Vini, the owner, and employs a staff of surfers who love to laugh and have fun. As soon as I walked in the door, Vini made me feel more like a guest in his own home than a hostel. It’s located on a decent beach, Praia do Perequê-Açú, but the guys can get you to any of the other nearby beaches (or into town) for a reasonable price. It’s also just a half hour walk from a popular beach, Praia Vermelha do Norte. The hostel is clean and comfortable, offers a free pickup/drop-off at the bus station, and Vini encourages a social atmosphere among the guests.
We often started each night at the pirate ship bar and ended up at a local place. One night we went to Coronel Cachaça and listened and danced to a live Brazilian country music band. Another night, we closed down Blues on the Rocks, a bar with a live rock band.
For food, there is a small market/bakery just a five minute walk from the hostel. Otherwise, I hitched a ride into town a couple nights with Vini to Sem Miséria, an “a kilo” buffet that was dirt cheap and had good food. Another night, everyone ordered in. Some had pizza from São Lourenço. I had Lebanese food from Ki-beirute. Everything was amazing.
My time in Ubatuba was much different than I had imagined it would be. I thought I would spend a few days alone on the beaches, check out the town and turtle project, and kind of relax. Not only did it turn out more enjoyable than I thought, but I learned a lot about surfing and the surfer lifestyle from a really cool group of people.