This Island In The Amazon River Is A Unique Destination For Adventurous Travelers

Brazil'a enormous Ilha do Marajó, or Marajó Island, is the world's largest river island,perched at the mouth of the Amazon River where freshwater meets the Atlantic Ocean. At the gateway to one of the world's most immense and beautiful wilderness areas, the island has an untamed, castaway vibe and a noticeable absence of throngs of tourists. Instead, visitors to Marajó can expect to discover misty waterways, sleepy towns, thick forests, and uncrowded beaches, along with diverse and rare wildlife. Here, one of the island's most frequently sighted inhabitants — the docile water buffalo — lives side by side with awesome anacondas, bright-billed toucans, and the exotic scarlet ibis, known for its long and narrow curved beak. 

Getting to Marajó Island is a bit of an adventure in itself, starting from Belém, the capital of the Brazilian state of Pará. Ferries shuttle travelers from Belém to the island and take several hours. The journey through the Amazon River Delta sets the stage for a departure from the fast-paced everyday world, a perfect introduction to the unique experiences that await on Marajó.

Adventures await on Marajó

Once on Marajó, most travelers elect to stay in the island's main population center, Souré, a fishing town dotted with mango trees that's about a 30-minute drive from the ferry dock. In addition to having a nice selection of hotels and restaurants, Souré is close to some of the island's best beaches, including Barra Velha, a beach known for its striking rows of mangrove trees. Another nearby gem is the spectacular Pesquiero, where the warm brackish waters are ideal for swimming and the long stretches of sand are perfect for leisurely strolls. Keep in mind that if you're visiting Marajó for some beach time, you may want to plan your trip during the dry season between July and December. 

Boat trips from Souré are another way to explore nature on the island, especially for those who want to glimpse some of the elusive local wildlife. The boat excursion along the Furo do Miguelão penetrates deep into the mangroves and igapó forests, providing opportunities to see howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys, sloths, and many birds. Departing in the opposite direction from Souré, the Mata Fome boat tour travels along the shoreline, passing by the scenic Souré lighthouse and yet another one of Brazil's stunning and secluded beaches, Praia do Garrote, before following an inlet into the dense forest.

Fazenda tours and food exploration

Another popular way to experience the island, fazenda (farm) tours combine a few different activities and inject culinary elements as well. On a tour of the ecotourism destination, Fazenda São Jerônimo, visitors can ride buffalos in a mangrove and then hike over a series of wooden and bamboo bridges to reach a magical beach before returning by canoe. The farm also offers horseback riding on the beach and river crossings via buffalos. Fazenda Mironga gives visitors a taste of life on a Marajoara farm, introducing them to some of the daily tasks involved in buffalo farming, highlighting the gastronomic products that can be made with the milk, such as the island's award-winning cheese, dulce de leche, and butter. 

Speaking of gastronomy, the food is another adventure not to be missed when visiting the island. It's "a cuisine that's elemental, ingredient-focused, and intense, with kaleidoscopic flavors unlike any of the country's other regional cuisines," according to Dishes featuring buffalo meat and milk tend to take center stage, such as banana cheese pudding and steak with melted mozzarella. Other starring ingredients in local dishes are plants and herbs found only in the Amazon, like "cipó-d'álho," which somehow smells like both garlic and bacon.