Perched on the shore of Ponta Grossa, skimming its own privately-accessed beach, Happy Hammock is the perfect spot to forget all of your worries. Here, we spent two nights (which wasn’t nearly enough) checking out what Paraty has to offer and falling asleep in their name-sake hammocks…
An easy 25-minute boat ride from the colonial town of Paraty, Happy Hammock is a world away from the hustle and bustle of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, the two monstrous cities this sleepy town sits in the middle of.
With the ever-constant waves lapping at the shore and the distant drone of boats passing by, it’s not difficult to slip into a fabulous state of relaxation. This place is made for it!
What to do in Paraty/Ponta Grossa
With Happy Hammock as a base, guests easily avoid the trappings of local hotspots, instead having the best of Paraty practically to themselves.
We’re not ones to sit back and do nothing on holiday though and being in such a secluded spot, we had wondered if there would be enough for us to do. Of course, we needn’t had worry – you can do as much or as little as you like there!
Swim with Bioluminescent Plankton
We’d first heard about this natural phenomena in Puerto Rico but due to the full moon during our visit (light pollution makes them much harder to spot) and the inability to actually swim with them there, we decided against paying to join a tour. It was a right decision but something I’ve wanted to do ever since.
Imagine our excitement when we found out that, directly off the dock, visitors to this Paraty guesthouse are treated to an underwater bioluminescent light show. Not only is it free but this natural marvel is literally in stumbling distance!
With someone standing guard and water that felt warmer than the air, we couldn’t resist jumping in two nights in a row. Though we were initially hesitant, all of our reservations slipped away once we put our goggled-heads in the water.
With every kick of our feet and wave of our hands, countless tiny fluorescent dots swirled around us in the darkness.
If there’s one reason you visit this region, make sure it’s this!
Wander the Historical Centre of Paraty
With its cobbled streets and historic churches, a visit to Paraty is a little like taking a step back in time. Built by the Portuguese to flood intentionally once a month (in a bid to clear out the sewerage that would have once been pushed out onto the road), the town’s whitewashed buildings and colourful front doors make for a great afternoon out.
Long gone are the garbage problems but the charm of the historical centre remains.
Hike Across to Praia Vermelha
An easy 30-minute hike from Ponta Grossa will put you out on the shores of Praia Vermelha, a pristine white-sand beach that other tourists pay top-dollar to visit on day cruises. Instead, plan to arrive before 2.30pm and you’ll have the beach practically to yourselves before the makeshift pirateships arrive.
There’s a lovely spot for lunch and though it is expensive, the servings are generous and the food tasty – a portion of fresh battered fish and a root-vegetable chips, each suggested for two, very happily went around three of us.
Relax in Paradise
With hammocks in ready supply and the sound of the waves crashing below, it’s hard to drag yourself away from the comfort of the front deck. Hummingbirds flit around as guests curl up with a good book or one of the National Geographics sitting inside.
It’s fair to say, life by the bay is pretty good.
Where to Stay in Paraty
Though I doubt it needs to be said at this stage, the Happy Hammock is hands-down the place to stay on the coast.
In some ways, this eco guesthouse is relatively simple. The showers don’t always run particularly warm (as they’re at the mercy of solar-heating, as you’d expect) and you won’t find a bedside lamp in sight. Wifi is nonexistent and and the closest accessible shop is back in town.
Honestly though, none of this is an issue – the exact opposite in fact. Happy Hammock absolutely shines in its simplicity and with Patrick at the helm, nothing is a problem.
Home cooked meals are a given and are adapted to suit the needs of his guests. The look of fear in my eyes when we were told a vegetarian meal was coming up that evening resulted in the addition of chicken for me (how sweet is that!) and when our friend Becky explained that she had a few allergies, he was careful to exclude those foods from our meals.
Snorkelling gear and a standup paddle board is available for use at no charge and the boat in and out of town is so affordable that making a trip is really isn’t a problem – why you’d want to leave is beyond me though!
If you’re looking for an international WiFi device, we highly recommend the SkyRoam. With it, you can connect up to five devices at a time and get reliable WiFi practically anywhere you can get cellphone reception, all at a low daily rate… and yes, it works at the guesthouse.
Getting to Paraty
Easy Transfer offers reliable and surprisingly affordable transfers direct to Paraty. Though it’s possible to get on a local bus, the transfers weren’t much more expensive and it meant we didn’t have to make our way through Rio with all of our bags.
From Ilha Grande
Again, private transfers are offered by Easy Transfer and though we found out that it would be a little cheaper to do it ourselves (after we’d purchased our ticket), we wouldn’t have saved much money.
From Sao Paulo
We made this journey in reverse (flying out of Sao Paulo) but doing so was simple. To get to Paraty from the city simply book yourself a seat on a local bus (they only offer one class but they’re comfortable enough). We travelled from Paraty to Sao Paulo by public overnight but and then purchased a ticket for the airport bus once we reached the Sao Paulo bus terminal. The airport bus cost practically as much as our longer journey but it got us to the airport quickly and safely.
Getting from Paraty to Ponta Grossa
Once you’re in the township, Patrick will have organised a private transfer for you on his boat. Keep an eye out for the little white boat and his skipper – he’ll make sure you, along with all your luggage, get to the guesthouse safely. Should you wish to pop back and forth, the boat is available around the clock, with a slight surcharge for journeys made after 7pm.
Don’t Make Rio & Iguazu Your Only Stops in Brazil!
When our lovely Maria returned from Brazil singing the praises of Happy Hammock and Paraty, I was instantly convinced that this little slice of paradise deserved a spot on our travel wishlist.
Having now visited ourselves, there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that this is one of the most relaxing places we’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting.
The food, the company, the outlook – it’s all perfect.
Sure, the water in the showers doesn’t run piping hot (it is after all warmed via solar panels) and getting to the shops to pick up forgotten items isn’t the easiest of things to do, but there’s magic in its seclusion.
Though we loved Rio and Iguazu and enjoyed Ilha Grande, we wholeheartedly believe that no trip to Brazil is complete without a visit to Paraty.
Happy Hammock, Paraty; giving the happiest place on earth a run for its money since 2015.
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Thank you to Patrick at Happy Hammock for hosting us for the purpose of this review. As always, all thoughts are 100% our own.