Ubatuba is a municipality in the northern coast of São Paulo state, just in the border with the Rio de Janeiro state.
Ubatuba is a true paradisiac area, being predominantly covered by exhuberant Atlantic rainforest and containing more than 80 non-contiguous beaches distributed along 100 km of coast. You may find some of them completely deserted, especially on low season.
Ubatuba is devoted to tourism, but the fact that it is relatively far from both São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro (despite being almost exactly between them) makes it far more a "vacation/holiday" destination than a "weekend destination".
For that reason, during summer vacation (jan-feb) and holidays, the city and the more central beaches will be packed, and congestions in the Rio-Santos road may frequently occur. However, during the rest of the year, especially during weekdays, the city will be almost empty, and some beaches far from the city center may even be completely deserted.
The low season is thus great if you want tranquility, but in the other hand, the city center will be far less vivid, and it may be very difficult to find something to eat or drink outside it. Many shops, kiosks and restaurants close during low season.
Ubatuba is humorously referred by Paulistas as "Ubachuva" (chuva means rain in Portuguese) due to the good chance of raining when they get there. In reality, this reputation is likely due to the city being most visited between December and March (the summer), which coincides with the the rainy season. Winter months (between June and August) have little rain, but the average temperature goes below 20°C. However, there is usually plenty of sunshine hours year-round.
"Util" bus company operates a direct route from Rio de Janeiro. Duration - approx. 5-6 hrs. Price R$74-78 (per person, one way).
From São Paulo, you can take an intercity bus at Terminal Tietê.
By car, from São Paulo or São José dos Campos, you may take either Tamoios (SP-099) and after Rio-Santos (BR-101) or Osvaldo Cruz (SP-099). Journey from São Paulo to the city center of Ubatuba should take about 3 hours in good traffic conditions.
From the International Airport (GRU) at São Paulo City there is a bus line from Expresso Rodoviário Litoranea. They come to Caraguatatuba, which is a neighboring city, about 43 km from Ubatuba. There are only four departures from the airport to Caraguá: 7AM, 11AM, 4:30PM, and 8PM. From the airport to Caraguá it takes about 3 hours by bus. The bus ticket is about R$35 per person.
Ubatuba has about 100 km of coast, so if you plan to know the beaches far from the city center, a car is highly recommended. You may rent a car in the city if you are not up to drive 3 hours from São Paulo (which can become much more in holidays). If you are going to Ubatuba in low season, and you are not staying in the city center, a car is also a good idea, since you may find out that where you are staying there is no place to go out to eat, sometimes not even a supermarket.
Public transport is administrated by Verdebus. There are some buses that go to more remote beaches, but they are not very frequent and they may stop not at the beach itself but rather at a nearby village. Be sure to check these things in advance.
Among locals, bicycles are a very popular means of transport. However, the beaches of Ubatuba are not contiguous, requiring a cyclist to ride in the sides of the Rio-Santos road to move between them, which is not particularly safe, despite being done by locals. Also, Ubatuba is quite hilly!
Cycling in the city center of Ubatuba, however, is much easier. The area is flat and there is a fair amount of cycleways.
Prumirim Waterfall (Cachoeira do Prumirim), Rio-Santos (BR101) (19 km north from city center, near Prumirim bridge). It is actually a sequence of waterfalls, surrounded by exhuberant rainforest. Easily accessible by a short trail from the Rio-Santos road; check the signs for "Cachoeira de Prumirim". It is possible to swim, but some care, specially with children, is advised.edit
Automobile Museum (Museu do Automóvel), Rua Tapajós 65 - Itaguá. Thurs-Sun. edit
Caiçara Museum (Museu Caiçara). Exhibits items produced by the traditional caiçara communities, coast-dwelling fishing communities.edit
Projeto Tamar, Praia do Itaguá. The local unit of the country's most important sea turtle conservation project offers the chance to get up close and personal with the sea turtles.edit
Serra do Mar National Park, Picinguaba Unit, (40 km east of downtown on BR-101). Contiguous with Serra da Bocaina National Park.edit
Ubatuba is simply one of the best places in Brazil to practice surf, nautical sports, diving and birdwatching. With 80 beaches, there are beach options for all kinds of audiences – from the high waves of Itamambuca to the calms waters of Lázaro. Uninhabited beaches such as Brava, Almada and Cedro draw one’s attention, and the access to them is made through tracks. For those looking for movement, the best option is “Grande” Beach or the schooner rides to Anchieta Island.
Félix, (15 km north of center). Beach with preserved natural surroundings, despite being next to a condominium. It is popular among surfers, although slightly less than Itamambuca.edit
Grande, (4 km south of center). The most popular beach in town, over 2km long with a wide sandy area and strong waves that are good for surfing. With younger crowds and many kioks.edit
Itaguá, (at city center). Ubatuba's central beach is not suitable for bathing, but it can be very pleasant place for walking or cycling at morning, or having a snack or a drink during the evening.edit
Itamambuca, access via a sidestreet at Km 34 of BR-101 (15km north of downtown). Famous beach that hosts international surfing competitions. Like Félix, it is located at a condominium but has preserved natural surroundings. It is also where the Itamambuca river flows into the sea. The river is not suitable for bathing, but you can make a short boat ride there.edit
Lázaro, (15 km south of center). Beach with beautiful surroundings, popular among families due to its calm waters.edit
Maranduba, ☎ 55 11 8112 2191, . MAranduba access BR101, ( 23 Km of downtown ) Beach clear and calm. A lot Bar and restaurants,there are many beachs closed to maranduba edit
Sununga. This beach is "the beach of skimboarders". Here practice skimboardingedit
Toninhas, (8 km south of center). An urban beach that does not look urban at all, being surrounded by trees instead of roads and buildings. One can walk from there to Praia Grande by a small trail.edit
Ubatumirim, (28 km north of center). Long, broad and flat beach, perfect for walking, jogging and other sports. One of the few beaches that is easily accesible by car and not inside a suburb or condominium,instead containing some camping facilities.edit
Vermelha do Norte, (7 km north of center). Beautiful beach with thick and red sands, strong waves indicated for surfing, and a small waterpark for children.edit
Trekking or hiking at Ubatuba's dozens of forest trails. Reach various deserted beaches, waterfalls and even some indigenous tribes
Scuba diving at the islands (Anchieta, Vitória and Prumirim)
Surfing at Itamambuca, Félix, Vermelha do Norte and other great surfing points
Climb Corcovado - Not the famous statue-crested peak of Rio de Janeiro, Ubatuba's Corcovado Peak can be reached by a trail from Praia Dura, offering a pretty, albeit Jesus-free, view of the area. The trail is poorly-signposted and hard to follow, however, so it is best to arrange for a guide through the tourist information center (see the Understand section above).
Many tourist-oriented shops are located at Rua Guarani and the north part of R. Leovegildo Dias de Oliveira, in front of the Itaguá beach. The area becomes quite crowded during evenings on high season and holidays, and contains shops, restaurants, bars and kioks in the beach front.
The "actual" commercial center of the city is Av. Thomás Galhardo, where you can find more general products and services. The area is currently under revitalization, to make it a popular spot among both local and tourists.
Anchieta Café, Av. Tamoios, 64, . (12) 3833 4232. edit
Areia Summer House, Rodovia Rio Santos, km 101 - Praia Vermelha do Norte, ☎ (12) 3836 2261. edit
Coyote Bar, R Coronel Domiciano 74 - Centro, ☎ (12) 3832-4856. Thur-Sat from 6PM. edit
Friends Lounge and Club. Good spot for a caipirinha.edit
180° (180 Graus), Félix Guisard 11 - Prainha, ☎ (12) 3832 6991, . This nightclub, located in an old Matarazzo family mansion, has three dance floors, six bars, a pizza restaurant and snack bar. National and international DJs spin all types of electronic music for a mostly 20-something crowd.Up to R$30, depending on the event. edit
Chalés Água Doce, Rua Caixa D'Água 441 - Praia Vermelha do Centro (Only 100m off the beach.), ☎ +55 12 3835-1275 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . checkin: 13h; checkout: 12h. Wonderful chales in a nice green surrounding and only 100m from the beautilful Praia Vermelinha, also a good spot for surfers and sunset spotters. The owner speaks English and also gives massages and yoga classes. There is another room in the main house.Chalet From R$ 145,00 (low season) to R$ 245,00 (high season). (-23.47028,-45.07)edit
Hotel Coquille, Rua Praia Grande, 405 - Praia Grande (Only 250m off the beach.), ☎ +55 12 3835 1611 (email@example.com), . checkin: 13h; checkout: 12h. Double Luxo From R$ 130,00 (low season) to R$ 285,00 (high season). (-23.47028,-45.07)edit
Hotel e Pousada Pouso54 (Pouso54), Rua Ari de Carvalho, 116 - Praia das Toninhas (50m from the flatter side of Toninhas beach.), ☎ +55 (12) 3842-0411 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. Provides rooms with AC and hot showers, a hearty breakfast, cable TV and a year round swimming pool.R$ 130 (low season) to R$ 280 (high season). edit
Pousada Twin, Avenida principal, 55 - Praia do Itamambuca, ☎ (12) 7817-4136, . checkin: 12:00; checkout: 11:00. Pousada Twin Hotel in Ubatuba na Praia de Itamambuca190. edit
Pousada Omnimare, Rua Guaicurus 30 (close to the airport, Itagua Beach), ☎ +55 12 38322005, . checkin: 2PM; checkout: noon. A cozy bed and breakfast, rooms with air conditioner, LCD cable TV, solar heated shower, swimming pool and beatiful gardens.R$75. (S 23o 26' 37.84,W 45o 04' 13.50)edit
Pousada Taiwan, Rua Felix Guisard Filho 60 (Next to the church.), ☎ +55 12 3832 6448. Single R$ 25. edit
Tropical Dolphin Hostel e Pousada (Golfinho Tropical), Av. Governador Abreu Sodre 461 (By the Perequê-Açu beach.), ☎ +55 12 38336180, . checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. Cable TV, WiFi in lobby, Hot showers, Hammocks, Fans. Dorm or private. Right by the beach, close to eating places. Friendly owner that speaks english. From R$60.edit
Ubatuba is generally a safe place. There is no place to be really avoided during the day, at least not a place that a visitor has reason to go. Walking during the night is generally fine, but consider driving or taking a cab if the place where you want to go is more than a few blocks away. During high season and holidays, R. Guarani and R. Leogevildo Dias de Oliveiro are pretty safe during the evening, since there will be many people there.