Peruíbe in the Tupi language means river of the shark. Originally as the region of Mongaguá, Peruibe belonged to the Itanhaém territory that stretched from São Vicente to Cananeia, both Portuguese villages founded during the colonial times. Back in the 16th century, the region of Peruibe (and the one of Itanhaém) would have had a bad reputation since most Tupiniquim Indians living there were put into slavery by the Portuguese, working in sugarcane plantations around Saint Vincent. The Abarebebe as the Indigenous peoples called Father Leonardo Nunes, or "the priest that flies" – since he was seen frequently walking on foot all around the long beach between Itanhaem and Peruibe, was the one who fought against this practice that hurt so many Indian families. He even converted an Indian Chaser who was then killed by the Indians, dying as a martyr. It was there, on the rock of Abarebebe that the Jesuits (also Father Joseph of Anchieta) built the first church of that part of the coast, named Church of Saint John Baptist that served also as a school and refuge against the Indian attacks. The sacred objects were taken to Itanhaem when its first church was finished a little later. Nowadays Peruibe is a modern city with many high-class boroughs and restaurants. The public interest in the city is rising since there is a nature reserve named Parque da Juréia (Jureia Natural Park), featuring pristine beaches (Prainha, Guarau, Parnapoa or Parnapuã, Juquiazinho, Baleia, Praia Preta, Desertinha, Carambore and Barra do Una), which is also a "local caiçara" (native) community of fishermen, sheltering also a immense diversity of flora and fauna. The city is surrounded by the Sea Mountain Range (Serra do Mar) the south end of which, near Barra do Una, is called Jureia Mountain Range.
The most frequented and most easily accessible beaches are:
There are many other beaches in the area, many of which can only be reached by trails which start near the highway, such as Praia do Índio and Prainha. A number of beaches south of Guaraú are striking in their beauty but fall within the bounds of Itinguçu State Park can only be visited with the accompaniment of a licensed environmental monitor. For more information, call the Peruíbe Association of Environmental Monitors (AMAP) at (13) 9701 3428 (Portuguese only).