After five visits to Rio de Janeiro it’s time to branch out. And this port at the mouth of the Itajaí River, while not too far geographically from Rio, certainly is a different prospect.
With a population some 34 times smaller than the sprawling six million of Rio, there is, understandably, a quieter feel to the place but don’t be fooled into thinking that’s necessarily a bad thing. The beaches are stunning, particularly at Atalaia, Praia Brava and Cabeçudas, which have all drawn excellent reviews from visitors, not least because they are less crowded, have beautiful, clean water and are more secure than some elsewhere. Top surf spots are also easy to find.
The Port of Itajaí is the main port of Santa Catarina, and the second largest in Brazil in terms of the movement of containers. It serves as the main port for exports in the region, and almost all production of the state of Santa Catarina moves through it at some point. The city serves as the main trade gateway between the state of Santa Catarina and the rest of the world.
The main produce of the city is paper and textiles, along with lumber, starch, vegetable oil and tobacco, and it is also the largest exporter of chicken in Brazil. Thanks to the incredible beauty of the area, tourism is quickly becoming a major industry. Indeed, the lure of this city and the wider state is its understated profile yet stunning appearance, landing the region a variety of national tourism awards. As you might expect for any city in Brazil, there is no shortage of lively bars and clubs to entertain the influx.
Part of the charm of the region is the quirky, slightly surreal manner in which parts of Europe – especially Germany – seem to have been duplicated in a tropical form. You can be immersed in the beauty of South America, sampling the weather and way of life, and yet feel you are walking through a German suburb in some parts. The majority of the population is reportedly of German and Italian ancestry, the result of mass immigration from Europe early in the nineteenth century and, as such, it is not uncommon to find large communities of German and Italian speakers. Inland, at Blumenau, they even hold the Bavarian beer festival of Oktoberfest, an occasion that drew more than one million participants in 1992.
Did you know: every September Itajaí hosts one of the biggest festivals of traditional music in Brazil.
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