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Maresias beach.

São Sebastião is a coastal city and a municipality on the North Coast of São Paulo. The city is known for its historical heritage and for the Maresias beach, part of the international surf circuit and regarded as "the Ipanema of São Paulo".


São Sebastião is a long and noncontiguous coastal area, offering an incredible number of beaches, the majority with a somewhat rustic aspect. In the beginning of the 1990s, its tropical climate and savage feel attracted wealthy Paulistas who, suffering with the infrastructure problems of the Baixada Santista, looked for calmer beaches and less congested roads. Nowadays, the reality of the chaotic traffic affects São Sebastião, but the municipality resists growth through laws, such as one that forbids the construction of tall buildings.

Get in[edit]

By bus[edit]

Intercity buses between São Paulo and São Sebastião are provided by Litorânea and can be taken from the Tietê intercity bus terminal. Note that there are two types of buses: one takes 3½ hr and another takes 5 hr 25 min, and they cost about the same, about R$70. There are also less frequent buses to Maresias and to the ferry boat to Ilhabela. Check the website for detailed information.

Normandy runs a bus from Paraty to São Sebastião twice daily.

By ride sharing[edit]

Many people offer the trip for R$35-40. Read more here.

By car[edit]

Coming from São Paulo, there are three routes of access.

  • Take SP-070 (Trabalhadores/Ayrton Senna) and go to São José dos Campos, then take SP-099 (Tamoios) to Caraguatatuba, on the coast, and finally BR-101 (Rio-Santos) south to São Sebastião.
  • Take SP-150 (Anchieta) or SP-160 (Imigrantes). At Cubatão, follow the signs to go to Bertioga, north via BR-101 (Rio-Santos). São Sebastião is past Bertioga.
  • Take SP-070 (Trabalhadores/Ayrton Senna) and go to Mogi das Cruzes, then take SP-098 (Mogi-Bertioga) to Bertioga, on the coast, and finally BR-101 (Rio-Santos) north to São Sebastião. This path is somewhat more complicated as you need to find your way through Mogi das Cruzes.

Get around[edit]


The "city" of São Sebastião is more properly described as a compact downtown and various discontinuous or semi-continuous coastal suburbs, distributed along 100 km of coast.

Downtown is small enough to walk around. A map can be obtained at the tourist information office located on Av. Dr. Altono Arantes (not far from the ferry terminal). The ferry terminal is located at the end of Av. Antonio Januário de Nascimento; look for the signs 'Balsa'.

To get around the beaches, you may take bus 51 operated by Ecobus[dead link], which departs every 20-30 minutes (more on weekends). This bus goes from the intercity bus terminal (Rodoviária) downtown (from inside, not the bus stop outside) to the Boracéia beach, at the division with Bertioga. Getting around by car using BR-101 should be straightforward.


  • 1 Casa Esperança (Casa Esperança Tecidos E Aviamentos), Av. Dr. Altino Arantes, 150. M-Sa 09:00-18:00. The best-preserved colonial structure in town, it is a beautiful residence built in the 18th century complete with its original ceiling paintings. Now it is used as a shopping center and art gallery. Free.
  • 2 Casa das Janelas, R. Antônio Cândido, 100 - Centro (Largo da Casa de Câmara e Cadeia). Colonial-era house typical of the 18th century. Inside visitation is not permitted.
  • Convento dos Carmelitas (Carmelite Convent), Guaecá Beach (12 km from downtown). By appointment. Constructed in the 17th century as the headquarters of a farm run by Carmelite monks, it is now on private property within the residential complexes of Balneário de Guaecá and Portal do Carmo.
  • Convento de Nossa Senhora do Amparo (Convent of Our Lady of Amparo), Rua Martins do Val, no number (seaside). Daily 09:00-19:00. Completed in 1668, this church is the oldest building in the city. Free.
  • Council House and Jail (Casa de Câmara e Cadeia), Praça Brig. Rafael Tobias de Aguiar, no number. Inside visitation by appointment only. Built the late 1600 when the outpost was upgraded to vila status. It serves as the Military Police station.
  • Fazenda Santana (Santana Farm), Pontal da Cruz. Built in 1743, it contains the family residence, a chapel, and a sugar cane mill.
  • 3 Igreja Matriz, Praça Major João Fernandes, 22 - Centro,, +55 12 3892-1110. This church, built towards the end of the 17th century, marks the history of the local coast-dwelling people, serving as an important symbol of the religiosity and the development of the municipality of São Sebastião. Free.
  • Historical Center. Seven blocks designated as a National Historical Heritage site, with 300-year-old colonial manors built around the Igreja Matriz.
  • 4 [formerly dead link] Teatro Municipal de São Sebastião, -46, Av. Dr. Altino Arantes, 2 - Centro, +55 12 3892-4489.
  • 5 Rua da Praia, Centro. Restaurants, ice cream shops, bars, kiosks and lots of fun.


  • Boracéia. The first beach you'll encounter as you come in from the west on the Rio-Santos Highway. A calm beach with preserved flora, and with an indigenous tribe established in the area.
  • Juréia. A small, almost deserted beach with few residences and a lot of greenery.
  • Barra do Una. With its light-colored sand and calm waters, this beach attracts families and groups of young couples.
  • Juquehy. This beach has beach-side mansions and the best infrastructure, attracting families and groups of young people.
  • Barra do Sahy. Boat rides to the nearby island or sunbathing in the soft, white sand. Children have parties in the small beach park.
  • Baleia. With large condominiums amidst the vegetation, this beach is wider and has harder sand. Surfers converge at the end down to the right.
  • Camburi. The most touristy beaches in town, Camburi and the neighboring Camburizinho have choppy blue-green waters that make surfers swoon. Young people from São Paulo come in search of action, battling for space on the soft sand.
  • Boiçucanga. This beach has perhaps the best sunset in town, and has active businesses as well. Brava Beach is near the division with Maresias, frequented by adventurous types who go to see its emerald-green water first-hand.
  • Maresias. The most well-known beach of the North Paulista Coast, Maresias attracts surfers in search of the perfect wave, upper class people who keep impeccable beachside mansions, and partiers from around the world looking for exciting nightlife. There are plenty of hotel options, and plenty of chances to bump into someone famous.
  • Guaecá. This beach has just some houses and soft sands, and is popular with foreigners, families, gays, and nature-lovers. You can see the south part of Ilhabela from this beach.
  • Centro. This beach has infrastructure, historical spots, and exciting nightlife. The ferry to Ilhabela departs from here.
  • Costa Norte. The beaches of the north coast towards Caraguatatuba have calm, level water and are frequented by fishermen.


Stay safe[edit]

São Sebastião is a relatively safe city. During the summer, large numbers of tourists come to the city, which also attracts criminal activity (pickpocketing, grand theft auto, home invasion, etc). However, police will always provide more officers and cars to the city during that season to even the odds. Just apply commons sense and you'll probably be fine: avoid dark streets at night, pay attention to your valuables, never leave your car unlocked, etc.

When in the beach, try not to leave your belongings alone when going for a swim. If you're in a relatively large group (say, 6 people or more), it might be a good idea to have at least one person at a time to stay on the sand to look after cellphones, etc.





Stay safe[edit]

São Sebastião is reasonably safe. In 2011, the robbery rate was around 1.85%, comparable to cities like Long Beach or San Diego, and three times lower than São Paulo's most popular beach town, Guarujá.

Stay healthy[edit]

As elsewhere in Brazil, some beaches in São Sebastião are not suitable for bathing, and conditions can change from day to day. On the day of your visit, check the map of the latest weekly beach quality bulletin (in Portuguese, boletim de qualidade das praias) of the state's Environment Department (CETESB).


  • 1 São Sebastião - Ilhabella Ferryboat terminal (Travessia São Sebastião - Ilhabella), Av. Antônio Januário do Nascimento, s/n - Centro, toll-free: 0800 773 3711. Open 24 hr. From here you can catch a ferryboat to Ilhabela. Ferry boats depart every 30 min. between 06:00-00:00, and every 1 hour between 00:00-06:00. The duration of the crossing is 15 min. In high season, a queue of up to 1 hour for vehicles is expected. Pedestrians and cyclists free; cars: R$11-17; motorbikes: R$6-9.

Go next[edit]

You find hostels and private rooms in:

  • Ilhabela – It is an archipelago with various savage beaches and ecotourism options. Accessible only from São Sebastião by ferry.
  • Camburi and Boicucanga – 40 km in the west. It is considered by Paulistas as one of the best beaches on their coastline. There are also quite a few small restaurants and bars along the road going through Camburi. Camburizinho beach is right next door.
  • Caraguatatuba – 30 km in the north. It is the largest city of São Paulo's north shore. Caraguatatuba is located near the Serra do Mar and is home to the Parque Estadual da Serra do Mar.
  • Ubatuba – 80km in the north-east. Beautiful beaches are the main attraction of this place, as well as its well-preserved nature. You can do mountain biking and trekking. One of the best places in Brazil to practice surf, nautical sports, diving and birdwatching.
  • Paraty – 150 km in the north-east. A fully-conserved 18th-century colonial town by the ocean, hidden by tall jungle-covered mountains which used to be a hideout for pirates after the Portuguese ships; a must-see for people interested in History and Culture; also good for Rainforest hiking and kayaking.

Routes through São Sebastião
SantosBertioga  S  N  CaraguatatubaUbatuba

This city travel guide to São Sebastião is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.