:: The "Vila" ::
Morro de São Paulo is more than just beaches. There's also the village. "The Vila", as the village is called among the islanders, is an enchanting place. Unlike other tourist destinations in Brazil, the village of Morro de São Paulo managed to preserve its natural charm and historic heritage, combining the tranquility of a sleepy tropical hideout with the charisma of sizzling Brazilian beach life.
As the Vila is rather small, nothing is far and everyone lives close by. Village geography is very easy to learn: Once you know the main square ("Praça Aureliano Lima", or simply "Praça"), the "Praça da Almendoeira" (Almond Tree Square) near the pier, the "Rua da Prainha" street and the trails to the lighthouse and the fort, its impossible to get lost.
The central square (Praça Aureliano Lima) offers a nice selection of cafés, restaurants and pizzerias. During the evening, a traditional handcraft and artwork fair is held here and local musicians meet at the nearby "Pastel do Fon" to play acoustic music. Practically everyone stops by the square in the evenings to say hello and to chat, and socializing is easy over a “Roska” drink in the "Barraca do Joi".
Prainha Street connects the central square with the ocean beaches. Its rather narrow, less than 500 meters long, and has a strong beachfront feel. Cheerfully nicknamed "Broadway", it offers countless bars, restaurants, cyber cafés as well as fashion and souvenir shops and is the principal meeting point of tourists and residents during the day and the early evenings and makes a pleasant pit stop en route to and from the beaches on the Southern side of the island.
Praça da Amendoeira Square, flanked by Nossa Senhora da Luz Church and with a huge almond tree in its center, is one of the coziest and calmest spots in the village. It offers a spectacular view of the sea and the sunset and a restaurant that plays good music and serve tasty food. A steep trail behind the square leads up to the lighthouse, from where you can enjoy an impressive panoramic view of the village and the island. The lighthouse is built on the very Northwestern tip of the island, so you can see far in the direction both Garapuá in the South and Gamboa in the Northwest. Don´t miss it.
After walking down the ramp near Nossa Senhora da Luz Church at the other end of the square, you can head down to the pier (and, during low tide, also to the beaches at Northern side of the island) or walk the trail to the fortress and a small beach right behind. "Prainha" beach is usually deserted and natural swimming pools and aquariums form between the reefs during low tide.
That, in a nutshell, is the village of Morro de São Paulo, a fascinating mixture of tradition, natural elements and sophisticated modern lifestytle.