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Mamanguá Tropical Fjord – all you need to know before you go

Learn more about Mamanguá, a unique marine ecosystem and tropical paradise located on the nearby Juatinga Peninsular Eco-reserve.

  • Writer's pictureParaty Explorer

Mamangua, or Saco do Mamangua to give it its full name, is a sea bay located on the Juatinga Peninsular in the municipality of Paraty. Outside of the historic old town of Paraty it is one of the most sought after attractions in the region due to its unspoilt natural beauty and the Caiçara culture of the local fishing people. Accessible only by sea or by walking trail Mamangua has much to offer visitors – beaches and islands, mangrove and local culture. There are lots of places to eat and to stay from guest houses and lodges to house rentals and Airbnbs.

Paraty has plenty to offer visitors (Check out our tips for The Best Things To Do) and a day out to Mamangua can be an unforgettable experience. But if you really want to make the most of what this corner of Paraty has to offer then why not do it justice and spend a couple of nights? On our multiday hiking and kayaking trip we spend 03 days exploring the region – we do everything! Check out more info and photos at Tropical Fjord Kayak trip.

Whether you decide on a day tour or a multiday trip we hope these Paraty Explorer’s TOP tips help you get your most out of your time in Mamangua:

1 – Paraty to Mamangua: getting there

Located on the Juatinga peninsular the Bay of Mamangua is only accessible by sea or by walking trail. It’s one of three protected bays situated on the southwestern side of the much larger Ilha Grande bay. It’s about 25km from Paraty, the nearest town. The closest access point is Paraty Mirim, 18km from Paraty, a 30 minute drive or 40 minutes by local Colitur bus. From Paraty Mirim you can catch a boat into Mamangua (20 to 40 minutes) depending on the boat or hike in.

By sea from Paraty – take your pick from the options available: traditional boat (1 ½ hours one-way); speedboat or fastboat from Paraty (45 minutes one-way); kayak (4-6 hours one-way)

By sea or walking trail from Paraty Mirim – fastboat taxi will take about 20 minutes one-way, slower wooden boats 40 minutes. There is a hiking trail from Paraty Mirim into Mamangua (about 90 minutes)

2 – Mamangua: things to do

The classic Instagram shot is the panoramic view from the Sugarloaf Peak looking down over the tropical fjord (it’s not a fjord but hey, who cares? It looks amazing).  Don’t be misled by the distance from the bottom as it’s a steep and demanding hike to the top. This hike can be done on a day trip, the Mamangua Sugarloaf Peak tour from Paraty. However, there is so much more to do in Mamangua, enough to easily fill a few fun days.

Any visit to Mamangua should also include a trip to the Rio Grande swimming hole exploring the fascinating mangrove* along the way. In addition to that there’s no shortage of beaches to visit and kiosks to try the local seafood dishes. If you’re able to stay a few days we also recommend you check out the local artisans carving decorative boats and Caiçara canoes from local wood. You won’t forget their impressive machete skills in a hurry!

*Important: although it might not look it the mangrove is a very sensitive eco-system of critical importance to marine life in the region. People do visit by motorised boat even though technically this is not allowed and inevitably these boats disrupt local wildlife and pollute the mangrove. We do our best to follow the Leave No Trace principles Do you? Please give Nature in the mangrove a chance and paddle it or walk it.

3 – Day trip or overnight? 

Visiting Mamangua on a day trip is a lovely day out but to feel the real magic of the place you really should spend a night or two. The serene moments in the morning before the visitors arrive and the sense of calm at dusk are what makes visiting Mamangua special. As it’s a little further away from Paraty a day tour can feel rushed and you may not feel like you’ve fully soaked up the atmosphere.

Staying longer also gives you more contact with the local people and a chance to swim in the sea sparkle (bioluminescence) on moonless nights.

There are lots of houses or rooms to rent (check out Airbnb) plus a campsite on Cruzeiro beach or alternatively book a multiday trip and let someone else take care of the details.

4 – Do I need a Tour Guide?

For maximum enjoyment we recommend going with a registered (!) local guide. An enthusiastic guide will have loads of info and anecdotes for you that you would otherwise miss. This is what gives Paraty Explorer tours their distinctive flavour.

The guide will take care of all the logistics – bus times or private transport, hiking route, lunch arrangements, taxi boats, safety and translation etc – so that everything runs smoothly and you get to concentrate on enjoying the hiking, the paddling and the beach time.

However, if you prefer to go it alone it is perfectly feasible to do the Mamangua Sugarloaf peak hike on your own as it is well sign-posted. A little Portuguese will help with boat transport and general logistics.

5 – Mamangua by numbers!

Population: 600 people (approximately)

8km long, maximum width 2km, maximum depth 10m 33 beaches 8 local communities 100+ species of fish and marine organisms

Mamangua Sugarloaf peak: 425m (29m higher than it’s more famous cousin in Rio)

Juatinga Peninsular Beach football competition winners: 0 times (they’ve never really been that good)

6 – Mamangua: where to eat!

There are plenty of restaurant and beach kiosk options in Mamangua and new places come and go. Here are some of our favourites run by local people who have become our friends over the years

Dadico’s restaurante: Dadico wins the prize for the most picturesque setting! The restaurant sits on stilt over the sea with an amazing view of the bay and the Sugarloaf peak on the other side. And the food? Well, once you tear yourself away from the stunning view you won’t be disappointed. Great sea food, oysters have long been a house speciality. Camping do Orlando: another great location this time on the sandy beach beneath the imposing Mamangua Sugarloaf peak. Order you food and take a dip in the warm, shallow waters.

Restaurante do Cruzeiro (pictured, aka Roseli): in true Mamangua Caiçara tradition you are always guaranteed a warm and friendly reception wherever you eat and Roseli is no exception. Roseli has been looking after Paraty Explorer guides for over 10 years now… the Cavala (Mackerel) with rice, beans and salad is a firm favourite…topped off with a truly delicious banana farofa.

7 – Wildlife in Mamangua

Spotting the different types of crabs in the mangrove is the wildlife highlight to visiting Mamangua. We’re also guaranteed to see plenty of bird life all over Mamangua. With a bit of luck we often spot turtles when paddling near the mouth of the bay or along the coastline to Paraty Mirim. If we’re very lucky we get to see dolphins. There have been registered sightings of whales in the Bay of Cajaiba and even in Mamangua but Paraty Explorer has never been that lucky. Yet!


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