*The worse for wear after a weekend in Rio, Stanley Stewart takes a drive west to clear his head at a colonial beach paradise.
It’s easy to overdo things in Rio. But I hadn’t come to Brazil to lie around. I had wind of a crumbling colonial backwater, a bay of fabulous beaches and tropical forests of umbrageous silences just down the coast. Paraty seemed to offer the perfect rest cure the nights are too many caipirinhas and too much sweaty samba. So, on a bright Sunday morning, I fled Rio, following the highway that snaked west along the spectacular Costa Verde. Escarpments of Atlantic rainforest rose on my right. Tantalising bays of scattered islands appeared on my left. One of the tantalising bays was the Baia da Ilha Grande, a vast and dazzling sweep of Atlantic surf said to contain 350 islands and more than 600 beaches. The Bay is Paraty’s doorstep… …the appeal of Paraty [is that] the modern world has passed it by: the old centre is intact, its streets to narrow and their cobbles to uneven to admit cars. The old mansions are time capsules from a slower, more elegant age… I stroll down to the quay, hired a boat with a captain and motored into the Bay, chugging past islands of jungle and rock. After lunch on tiny Catimbau island, we headed for the string of ravishing beaches … The best of Paraty, however, was yet to come. I had rented a house out on the Bay, and the boat when dropped me there on his way back to town. Accessible only by boat, Casa Cairucu sits on a coast of rainforest, tiny fishing villages and pristine beaches. I felt happily marooned. It turns out I had come to Brazil to lie around. Casa Cairucu www.casa-cairucu.com is a gorgeous house that sleeps up to 10, with a maid service and boat transfers from Paraty. Prices start at £200 a night for two people, or £295 for more, and it will be stocked with the food and drink you choose – at supermarket prices.