The popular beachside and adjacent neighborhood named Ponta Negra lie between Parque das Dunas and Morro do Careca, a 117 meters sand dune that overlooks the beach. Avenida Engenheiro Roberto Freire is the backbone of the city's best touristic neighborhood. About two-thirds of the way along the 3 km beach, Avenida Roberto Freire drops downhill to the waterfront and becomes Avenida Erivan França, a busy beachside boulevard. The whole region is filled with many different types of hotels, pubs, restaurants, nightclubs, and craft markets.
Going the other direction from the Reis Magos Fortress, along the banks of the Potengi River, after crossing the Newton Navarro Bridge, is possible to reach the northern region of city and to access the vast dune system of Jenipabu and adjacent beachside. This touristic place is filled with activities, which range from amazing landscape views to exciting buggy rides.
Natal spreads along the seaside and many beaches offer calm and warm waters for a great swim. Many other good options for nice beaches can be found within 15-25 km of Natal , especially down the Rota do Sol, and these include praia do Cotovelo, praia de Tabatinga and praia de Camurupim beaches. The most popular are Ponta Negra and Jenipabu and the best situation in those is to go during the low tide. The ocean can be dangerous for swimming in a few places along the Natal shore, so be aware of praia do Meio and most sections of praia da Via Costeira. In those places red flags indicate dangerous waters and is better not to wonder around or swim alone in remote and deserted sections of the Natal shore (in particular in praia da Via Costeira).
The Dunas Park is considered the second largest urban park in Brazil. It includes 1,172 hectares of land, and allows observation of several plant and animal species, which are typical of the Atlantic Forest. The tour is along a trail, accompanied by trained guides. Please check our field trips and reserve your place. The park also has a jogging track, and stays open for visitors from Tuesday to Sunday. Among the monocots that can be seen in the field there are bromeliads, such as Cryptanthus zonatus, orchids (e.g. Cattleya granulosa), and several mats of Araceae.
The Natal City Park Dom Nivaldo Monte, or simply the City Park is an urban park. Inaugurated on July 21, 2008 with architectural project of the famous Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. It has a tower offering a nice view to restinga vegetation and the city itself. The tower hosts a museum and several trails for jogging are available on the grounds.
Museums and galleries are not the best things Natal has to offer but some are available and interesting shows may occur during Monocots VI. We highlight here the most important collections: Museum Câmara Cascudo, Pinacoteca do Rio Grande do Norte, Capitania das Artes, Galeria do Sesc Cidade Alta. Inside UFRN campus, the Herbarium UFRN is placed in the second floor of the Museu de Ciências Morfológicas, which has permanent exhibitions of the human body and comparative anatomy. The campus also has an art gallery, located next to the bank agencies (Convivart Gallery). Those interested in theater may check the programs of Casa da Ribeira and Teatro Riachuelo, which may have very interesting Brazilian music shows or theater plays.
The Natal Aquarium was founded and is run by a family of biologists and retired environmentalists. Besides the exhibit, the aquarium also serves as a surgery center for sea animals. The Aquarium is located between Oceânica Avenue and the beach. The Aquarium exhibits about 60 marine species. There are about 30 small aquariums, where the species are put individually or in small groups of two or three species. Most species were collected at the Brazilian and Rio Grande do Norte coast. Species include several kinds of fish (including piranhas), sea horses, shrimps, lobsters, stingrays, octopus, etc. In a refrigerated aquarium, there are a couple of penguins.
This is a road running for some 10 km between the ocean and a vast natural reserve called Parque das Dunas. There are a number of resort hotels between the park and the ocean and a sidewalk for jogging.
The city of Natal was established on a peninsula between the Potengi River and the Atlantic Ocean. Just off the tip of the peninsula, where ocean and river meet, the original Reis Magos Fortress still stands, a forgotten bit of the 17th century. Where the fortress touches the mainland the 21st century begins – a modern oceanside boulevard that under various names runs from there along the length of the city and out into the dunes beyond.
Natal has more than 237 restaurants offering different types of cuisine. Because Natal is on the coast, its typical dishes have a variety of seafood, mainly shrimps. Brazilian fruits from this region are also very sweet and give a tropical taste to all menus at the different restaurants. Interesting things to try (and not expensive) include tapioca, açaí and many types of ice-creams and juices from local fruit (graviola, cajá, cupuaçu, mangaba…).
Natal has an active and diverse night life for all tastes. It is possible to find many clubs, bars and pubs. The sounds are well diversified, such as electronic music, Latin rhythms, rock n´roll and forró - a traditional Brazilian music favored in the northeast of the country. It is believed that Forró is a corruption of the English term 'for all' in other words, signifying that everyone can join it (lacks scientific confirmation). Most nightclubs in Natal are located in the Ponta Negra neighborhood. But there are good alternatives in Petrópolis, and also in Ribeira, the harbor that borders the rio Potengi and contains the oldest houses in town. More and updated information on locations, shows and other cultural agenda can be found at the hotel front desks.