Natal («Christmas») is the capital and largest city of Rio Grande do Norte.
The city has a total population of ca. 806,200 people.
The implementation of the Via Costeira (Coastal Highway), 10 km long avenue along the shore and the dunes, was the true starting point for the beginning of tourist activity in the State in the 1980s. That is where the main hotels, shopping centers and restaurants of the capital city, Natal, are concentrated. Natal has several tourist attractions and is famous for its natural beauty (such as the crystalline waters of Maracajaú and the largest cashew tree in the world), for its historical monuments and buildings (such as the Forte dos Reis Magos, the Alberto Maranhão Theatre and Newton Navarro bridge), for its beaches (such as Ponta Negra, Pipa and Genipabu) and also for its off-season carnival, the Carnatal. The city also boasts second largest urban park in Brazil, the Parque das Dunas.
The Natal Historic Center includes 150 buildings of various styles, like colonial architecture, neoclassical, art-deco and modernist. This area comprises the districts of Ribeira and Cidade Alta, which are the oldest neighborhoods of the city, which have characteristics of the first centuries of the history of Brazil, highlighting important aspects of Portuguese colonization.
Parrachos de Maracajaú
The Parrachos de Maracajaú of coral reefs are the seven kilometers of beach in Maracajaú, forming natural pools. Occupy an area of 13 km, excellent for snorkeling in the coral diving underwater that, at low tide, touch the surface. It is one of the places in Brazil where the sea is the most crystalline and suitable for diving. The beach of Maracajaú is 60 km from Natal. In Maracajaú you find also a water park, the Ma-Noa Park.
Ponta Negra and Via Costeira
Ponta Negra is a famous beach and a neighborhood located in Natal. In the extreme south of the beach, is located in Morro do Careca (Bald Hill), a large dune. The extreme north of the beach is located at Via Costeira (Coastal Way), a road in the middle of coastal dunes that connect the various beaches of the city. The beach is completely urbanized and there are several points shops, restaurants, bars and night clubs. The sand itself is lined with «tents», or huts, that serve food and drinks to beachgoers day and night.
Genipabu (or Jenipabu) is a beach, a complex of dunes, a lagoon and an area of environmental protection located in Natal capital city, one of the most famous post-cards of the Brazilian state Rio Grande do Norte. It is a huge dunes and a lagoon of fresh water, with strong attraction for tourism. The region has a good infrastructure of hotels, inns, restaurants, beach tents, tours of «buggies», rafts and dromedaries. It is played in the dunes around the lake called «esquibunda» stakeholders sit down the dunes on top of planks of wood, to dive in the waters of the lagoon.