At the lighthouse of São José do Norte there is a sign indicating the zero point of BR 101, the famous national highway that crosses the country from north to south. Actually, it starts in Touros – RN, and ends in this beach in Rio Grande do Sul, exactly where the Patos Lagoon meets the Atlantic Ocean.
São José do Norte is a small historical town with tourist and culinary attractions that deserve attention. Located 320 km from Porto Alegre, it was scene of bloody battles in the Farroupilha Revolution, and preserves buildings from that time or older. It has natural beauty like dunes, lakes, mangroves and open sea, which the surfers love.
Getting there is an adventure: you may take the ferry in Rio Grande or the BR 101. The end of this highway is in a narrow portion of land between the ocean and the lagoon, with strong wind and lots of sand. Several bikers and jeep lovers have been on this highway, something I would love to do. Drivers leave Palmares do Sul, pass by Lagoa do Peixe, other small towns and desert ways until they reach the lighthouse.
I have taken the ferry many times, always a one-day tour when I was on vacation in Cassino, but it is possible to stay in a hotel and spend some quiet time. The view is beautiful and you can take great pictures. When you arrive in the mainland, go for a walk in the city centre, visit the church and enjoy the wonderful restaurants that serve seafood at excellent prices.
MAR GROSSO BEACH is 6 km away from the centre and is the surfers’ favorite one. There are only two restaurants and no street venders. During the week it is empty, and the colour of the ocean, tide and wind is always a surprise. It may be a perfect sunny day or not. Here you can find the ATALAIA LIGHTHOUSE, the oldest one in Rio Grande do Sul (1820).
In MOLHE LESTE there is a reserve of sea lions, and another famous surf point. On windy days, kite surf and windsurf are the sports of choice. In the winter there may be whales.
BRISAMAR Restaurant serves a tasty clam soup, besides shrimp. It is on 297 Marechal Floriano St., downtown.
How to get there: There are ferries leaving Rio Grande at 6am, 1pm and 4pm, returning at 7am, 2pm and 5pm; boats every 30 minutes. You may take your car on the ferry or leave it near the port.
Translated by Lúcia Maciel
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