The next day’s plan was to go as far as could. We headed out early and skipped past Parangua and went inland a bit to Morretes. We were told to stop here and get a famous regional stew, but we were a little too early. It’s on the list for next time. So is going to Guaraqueçaba. I was told that you absolutely could not drive there, but there’s a road on the map and a turn-off and sign at Morretes… so it’s possible. 100 km down a dead-end dirt road. For anyone coming up behind us, please give it a try. We’ve got to keep moving north to be in Rio de Janeiro at the end of the month.
From Morretes, it was a beautiful drive up into the mountains on the very steep Camino da Graciosa. Flowers everywhere and we even saw a toucan. I’m not sure if we saved any time, but it allowed us to avoid driving through Curitiba.
Then, smooth highway driving until we hit the traffic jams south of São Paulo near Itanhaém. For hours, the traffic crawled. Most of this section of coastline is developed with dull condos – not much to look at. Roadside vendors sold bananas and crabs. Live crabs hanging on a string in one hand and a bunch of nanners in the other. It seemed like an odd combination, but there must have been one of these guys within eyesight for 50 kilometers. For some reason, once traffic picked up, we really regretted not buying any crabs or bananas.
We had to do a little jig up and around Santos – the closest we got to São Paulo – and then back to the coast. It was a long day and we found an uninspiring camping spot at Praia da Enseada for the night. There was a grocery store and a good pizza place nearby, so a big enough success.
In the morning, we set out with the same plan – get farther north and find a nice place to hang for a few days.
Once we got up to Boiçucanga, things started to look much more inviting. Lush mountains, big wide white sand beaches, and clear blue water. From this point forward… this is where you want to be… and you can forget about the past 500 kilometers. We kept going with the plan of getting to Ilha Bela (note: once you leave Boiçucanga, you’re committed. It’s a steep climb with no turnouts for a very long way.)
We scoped out lots of little beaches and started looking for a magic spot. Toque-Toque (the big one and little one) were okay, but not worth stopping for very long. When we arrived at the ferry line in São Sebastao, the brakes started acting funny. Locking up, hard pedal, hot wheels. We pulled over to figure it out what was next. The janky brakes and long ferry line to Ilha Bela (at least 4 hour wait) helped make the decision. We drove a little further north and had to stop again in Caraguatatuba to let the brakes cool. I changed the disc pads in a gas station parking lot, hoping that pushing the calipers in a bit might fix it if they were sticking. It’s was insanely hot – the discs, the parking lot, me. Days like this it pays to have a fridge with cold drinks.
It was a failed experiment. They kept sticking and heating up (inconsistently) and we called it a day when we saw a camping sign in front of a watermelon-colored kiosko on the beach. Camping on the grass, under a tree, a few meters from the sand. A beachfront kiosk with ice cold beer, umbrellas, friendly staff, and good burgers. Perfectly clear blue water. Calm lapping waves. A swimmable island in the near distance. Despite being the high-season, we’re the only campers here. If you’re going to randomly break down somewhere along this coastline, we highly recommend this spot (S23 31.678 W45 13.114). Even if it rains.