Don't forget to stop by it.Located at Areia Preta Beach, was inaugurated in 1951.From the top of its 151 steps, 37m (121 ft)high monument has a panoramic view that reaches as far as 70km of the nice Potiguar Capital.
Mãe Luíza (Mother Louise) was a "parteira" who lived in Natal in the early 1900s; in the poor areas of Brazil, "parteira" is the woman who help other women give birth. Mãe Luíza gained recognition for her work, and the District of Natal where she used to live was given her name; later on, when the lighthouse was built in the District, it became known, first informally, later officially, as Farol da Mãe Luíza.
Before this lighthouse was built, Natal had a beacon which stood on the wider wall of the Fortress of the Wise Kings; the beacon was a guide both for ships and for the aquaplanes which arrived in Natal via the waters of River Potengi. After World War II was over (Natal had an important role in the World War II), there were no more aquaplanes, and the beacon was substituted by the lighthouse, built in a more proper place; there is a landmark on the Fortress, showing the original location of the beacon.
The lighthouse is operated by the Brazilian Navy. Open for visitations Sunday afternoons.
In Natal you can take shortcurts by driving a buggy along the beach rather than driving a car on the paved roads. Visiting one of the fantastic beaches around 20 km south of Natal , we were given the choice of going back by tourist bus or by renting a buggy for cheap and drive back along the beach.... which , of course , we did....( pic # 1 ) . Very nice , do that if you get the chance....
Then , the miraculous dunes of Genipabu , just north of Natal. First we took a walk , climb , descent within the dunes , a fantastic landscape and , to our surprise , there were various sweet water lakes. I took a dip of course and in no time was surrounded by thousands of little fish , all moving in the same direction all the time thus giving the impression of just being one gigantic fish....Charlotte always had bread with her ( in case we got hungry ) so I fed this to the fish and it was a real treat to see them tearing the bread apart like crazy and instantly return to the others swimming by radar again....
Next the buggy ride in the dunes but first some intimate tenderness between me and the lizard , perfect foto op. The buggy ride then with a professional bugueiro ( buggy driver ) was like riding on a roller coaster..... The bugueiro made it a point to go to the limit and make us believe that the buggy would overturn at any moment , sometimes actually riding on two tires leaned completely to one side . I held on for dear life , Charlotte screamed her lungs out , the bugueiro was grinning...... It was a lot of fun you shouldn't miss when you go there....
Ponta Negra Beach:
Located approximately 14 km (9 mi.) south of downtown Natal, the beach is formed by a small 3-km wide bay (1.8 mi). The sand is white, the water clean and its temperature invites to stay, play, swim and enjoy it for hours. Windsurfing, Jet-ski, Banana-Boat riding, diving or just resting on a “Jangada” softly sailing close to the coast, this is high life style! To the north, surfers can find an open beach with strong waves. To the far south, the many fisherman rafts and Morro do Careca (a 120-meter high dune) form one of the most beautiful postcards of Brazil. The beach of Ponta Negra is known for the finest seafood restaurants and the most vibrant nightlife. Not far from here, one comes to the world’s largest cashew tree. In order to give an idea of the size of this gigantic tree, which now reaches 7,000 m2, it is bigger than 70 normal-sized cashew trees. Its age is estimated at 110 to 120 years. The most famous tours leaving from Ponta Negra are done by Buggy – along the beaches and up & down through the dunes… “...with or without emotion…?”.., the drivers ask... one gets it anyway!
North of Natal you can go on a ski bunda ride that involves sliding down a sand hill sitting on a wooden board ending up in a fresh water pool. You can ask for a slow or fast ride, the faster the more fun of course. It was then onto another location where you sit in a canvas harness and fly through the air above the sand hill, landing in the water. These rides great fun. Most tourists hire a buggy for the day to get into these places, however if you have an ordinary car you can also get there. We hired a driver / guide for the day & visited these places in our hire car for a fraction of the cost of a full day buggy tour.
There are several beaches around the city of Natal. To the south, there is popular Ponta Negra, then you have, the Praisas dos Artistas, do Meio and do Forte, where the Forte dos Reis Magos is located.
Ponta Negra is very touristy, Praia dos Artistas has good surfing and Praisa do Forte and Praia do Meio are mainly frequented by locals.
This fortress was built on the water by the Portuguese in 1598. It was shortly in the possession of the Dutch from 1633 to 1654 before the Dutch were expelled from Brazil.
Well worth a visit. Beautifully situated on the ocean
The biggest cashew tree in the world is found at the district of Pirangi do Norte, 24 km south from Natal . The tree covers an area of about 7000 m2, with a perimeter of about 500m. The tree grew so much because of the combination of two genetic anomalies.
Admittance to the park is R$3 (adults) and R$ 2 (students, over 65 years old); money is invested towards improving the structure of the parks. Bi-lingual guides (English and Spanish spoken) are available. Outside the park, there are several kioskes selling t-shirts, handcrafts, postcards etc.
If you are looking for souvenirs, this is a nice place. Not very big, but most of the handcrafts, typical from that region, can be found there. Prices are reasonable.
On Thursday nights, there is a folkloric show called Forr? com Turista (Forr? with Tourists).
Opened daily, from 8 am to 7 pm. Entrance free.
The fortress was built in 1598, using wood, stones, sand and whale oil; it was the first building in Natal. Gaspar de Samperes, designer of the building, adopted the conventional design for a maritime fortress: a five corners stars.
In 12th December 1633, the fortress was taken over by the Dutch, who stayed until January of 1654, when the Portuguese got back the place.
You won't find any furniture there, just empty rooms. But the views are very nice.
Apart from Praia da Pipa (south of Natal) and Genipabu (north from Natal), you can also go to Maracajau. It is located around 54 km from north from Natal. From there you take a boat to reach the natural swimming pools, 7 km far from the beach.
Incredible transparency of the water. Snorkel is already included in the boat trip.
If you go to Natal, you will want to take a buggy ride through the dunes of the Litoral Norte (Santa Rita, Genipabu, Pitangui, Jacuma, and Muriu). The most picturesque place is Genipabu, where you can sandboard
Dunes are located north of Natal, between these dunes you can find sweetwater lakes which are brilliant for swimming and cooling down. Water is clear and so much more nicer than seawater which is salty.
Buggy Drive at the dunes is a great fun for one day. Hire a buggydriver and load up to 3-4 persons into a buggy and have day that you will remember.
While driving with "motion" at sand-dunes you will be natures own made rollercoster and you will come to one of these places where you can jump into one of these aerial cableways from the top of the dune, all the way down to a sweet water lake - SPLASH.
There will be waiting a "boat" on which you climb or you can swim back to the shore.
From here there will be waiting a carriage on rails. WV Beatle driven engine will then tow you back to the top of the dune.
If this is too frightening for you, there is also similar high dunes from which you will have a sledride down to a lake.
The Praia do Meio area is in the northern part of Natal; there are several beaches, with undefined boundaries: Praia do Forte (around the fortress), Praia do Meio, Praia dos Artistas (around Chaplin) and Areia Preta.
There is a tourist office at Praia dos Artistas, close to Chaplin; also, right beside, a 24/7 Banco do Brasil ATM.
Until about ten years ago, this was the busiest area in Natal; the today closed Hotel dos Reis Magos was famous for the parties which congregated the high society of Natal.
Today, the place is decadent; the city government has been trying to revitalize the area (the pavement was refurbished, a communitary sports court was built), but results are still incipient. The beaches are frequented mostly by locals who live around the area.
Don't walk very far towards the fortress by night. Even though very diminished from recent years, street prostitution still exists, both on main avenue and lateral streets.
The beaches are lined by reefs; when the tide lowers, water pools are formed, good for children. During the high tides, the waves here and bigger than in Ponta Negra, making Praia dos Artistas a favourite place for surfers.
Hotels along the beach avenue are cheaper than in Ponta Negra. Quality and prices vary much, but you can certainly find comfortable places here.
Praia do Meio and Ponta Negra are about 12 km apart.
The Center of tourism had functioned as a House of Detention until the decade of 60. It was inaugurated in 1976 and is located on the top of a hill with a privileged sight of some urban beaches in Natal and part of the city. Besides providing touristic information, it has many little stores installed in what was once the prison cells, and filled with the most varied craftsmanship (carnauba fiber, sisal, ceramics, embroiderings, typical products and foods...), an art gallery, an antiquary, a night club and a restaurant.