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Exploring Alter do Chão, Santarém

Imagine a place hidden in a part of the Amazon jungle, with stunning white sandy beaches, sunny weather and laid back vibes, where it’s only about enjoying life… this is Alter Do Chão!

We visited this place in October 2019 for 4 days and all I can say is that it was absolutely amazing!

Counting to one of my favorite travel destinations in Brazil, Alter do Chão got a really special place in my heart. It simply is paradise!

View on “Ilha Do Amor”
  1. Where is Alter do Chão?
  2. Why is this place so special?
  3. Ilha do Amor
  4. What to do in Alter do Chão
  5. Best time to go

Where can you find this paradise?

The town is situated on a major sidestream of the Amazon River between Belém and Manaus.
More specifically it is located 33 km west of Santarém, in the state of Pará.

Pará is in the north of Brazil, right next to the state of Amazonas and therefore mostly covered by parts of the Amazon Rainforest.

Because of its isolated location, which is a big part of its appeal, there are not many visitors coming here.

The only way to get to Alter Do Chão is by plane or by riverboat.

Good to know: Boats and planes will arrive in Santarém. You can take a taxi from the city to Alter Do Chão for R$70. It will only take about 30 mins.

Why is Alter do Chão so special?

Alter Do Chão is a sunny, relaxed riverside town that is especially known for its “Ilha Do Amor”(Island of Love): one of the most picturesque islands also seen as the Caribbean of the Amazonas.

But why is this so special? Well, the island only exists a few months per year!

It only becomes visible from August to December, when the water is low. At that time island turns into a place with beach restaurants, beach bars and cool, calm water to refresh from the hot sun.

During wet season (January-June) the island gets much smaller from month to month until it almost disappears completely underwater

This is why you can call yourself lucky when having the chance to visit this awesome place at the end of the year.

Small shops in Alter Do Chão

Ilha Do Amor

The “Island of Love” is one of the most beautiful islands I have ever seen! 

Surrounded by white sand beach, the water of the Tapajós River (one of the biggest side rivers of the Amazonas), and located directly in front of the town, it’s the main attraction and a must-do in Alter Do Chão.

Especially in the main season it’s really worth to visit the island, as it appears in its full beauty.

On the island there are several things you can do from hiking, to chilling on the beach, swimming, action and refreshing with cold beers, cocktails or juices.

Tip: When coming here try to go onto the island on weekdays. During the weekends (especially in the main season) lots of families and locals come here to spend the day or the weekend relaxing, so it gets more full. We mainly went under the week and there were no crowds here. 🙂

Getting to the island

There are several rowboats waiting to transport the people to the island and it’s a comfortable way to cross, especially if you want to bring a few things like beach towel, book etc. with you.

*Price: R$5,  the crossing only takes about 4 minutes.

Otherwise you can swim by yourself. The way is not very deep and the water is calm.

Good to know: The boats are also bringing people back from the island to the town of Alter Do Chão. If you want you can spend the whole day on the island- the last boats are running until 9 pm in the evening.

Things to do on the island

1. Chill at a bar/ restaurant
You can also eat on the island if you get hungry, as there are different restaurants on the beach. They offer different kinds of food.
Besides that, they serve amazing cold caipirinhas!

2. Read a book and relax
That’s what I love doing when I’m on the beach- just enjoying the sun and reading a book not thinking about anything else.

Can you spot it? 😀

3. Get a massage 
There are many massage offers to choose from (around R$30 for about 15 minutes). 
I found this a little expensive and honestly have had better massages before.

4. Some action
Are you a fan of water activities? Then you have the options between
Banana Boat*, kayaking or stand up paddling!

*Price: R$10 per person

5. Hiking
Yes, you can even do a hike on this small island and I promise you: it’s a beautiful one!
The mountain is called “Serra Piroca” and offers a not too difficult 40-minute hike up to the top. We were not really prepared and hiked the whole way in Flip Flops, I would recommend to bring sneakers as there are many rocks on the way up.

The view from the top is beautiful! You can see all the greens and tropical landscape, the island and beaches.

➳ Tip: Nice for watching the sunset!

6. Watch the sunset

I highly recommend you to spend a whole day on the island- it’s worth it!

The sunsets here are stunning and it’s so romantic being on the island, almost no other people around, surrounded by the breeze of the Amazonas.

You can also watch the sunset while having a swim in the water, as the water temperature is really warm. This is the best way to end your day!

Moreover, we had a full moon. That was such a magical experience!
After the sunset, when the moon was shining bright and full, its reflections in the water, us sitting in the warm sand surrounded by nothing but nature, I really thought I was dreaming!

It was just too beautiful.

We spent the whole day on the island and had a full moon after watching the sunsetmagic!

7. Camp on the island

One of the most amazing things about “Ilha Do Amor”, is that you are allowed to camp here! 

Many people take their tents or hammocks and a sleeping bag to spend one night on the island. We didn’t know that this was possible, so we didn’t have time anymore to do so. But on our last day we saw people having their own small camps. 

It looked amazing and is something I would definitely recommend doing! Who wouldn’t like to sleep on a quiet island under the stars?!

(Please always take all your trash with you after camping, for love to our nature! Unfortunately there are too many people not caring about this at all… just a small reminder! :-))

What else to do in Alter Do Chão?

Besides “Ilha Do Amor”, there are also other things you can do in Alter Do Chão.

1. Visit a Carimbó presentation

I’ve never expected that such a small, peaceful place could be so full of exciting celebrations! 

Especially in the evenings, Alter Do Chão turns into a place full of music, dancing, and events that bring locals and travelers together in a unique way.

Carimbó is a traditional music genre in the state of Pará with indigenous and African influences. Locals, as well as travelers are wearing colorful, long skirts dancing to the rhythm of the drums, singing and spreading joy! It’s impossible not to be carried away by those colorful and happy vibes. 🙂

Girls dancing to Carimbó in traditional long skirts.

Besides that, you cannot only find live music on the streets, but also in bars & restaurants.

People here really get together, make new friends, enjoy some cold drinks and laid back vibes.

➳ Tip: In the evening, there are many small snack shops selling freshly made food, like pastels, pizzas or burgers for cheaper prices than restaurants. 
Try the Açaí here in the Amazonas! It’s very different than in other places in Brazil because it’s less sweet and more bitter, but also healthier.

2. Lago Verde

Many tour agencies offer good boat tours from 2-3 hours for 2-6 people.
The lake is surrounded by forest and there is much wildlife to spot. 

Besides that, you can go snorkelling and most companies offer the snorkel gear for the tours.

*Price: R$50 – R$75 per person

3. Ponta do Cururú 

Here you have the chance to spot pink and grey dolphins that come along most afternoons just offshore from this sandy point.
Many tour guides also combine tours of Lago Verde and Ponta do Cururú.

4. Take a beach tour

There are many different beaches surrounding Alter do Chão & tour companies offer day trips by boat including lunch.
We haven’t done a tour, but other travelers said it’s beautiful and really worth it!

Very less people actually stay on “Ilha Do Amor” to watch the sunset, even though it’s the most beautful time of the day!

Best time to go

The best time to visit Alter Do Chão is during dry season from July – December.
This is when “Ilha Do Amor” can be seen and visited the best and also there are only a few mosquitoes here.

All in all it’s worth to come up here if you visit Brazil! You will see that it is going to be a different experience and you won’t regret it. 🙂

➳ Read: 3 -week Travelguide Brazil

I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience and tips when visiting Alter Do Chão! It really is a beautiful place worth to visit. What are your impressions about this place? Would you like to come here? 

Leave your thoughts in the comments and subscribe for more of my travel stories!

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2 Comments

  1. Gatinho
    January 14, 2020 / 9:53 AM

    Wow! You really described the soul of Alter Gatinha! You missed the fish story though…

    • annabcm
      Author
      January 17, 2020 / 11:00 AM

      Thank you gatinho! 😘 Haha, that’s true! 😄

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