Steady winds between late June and February make Jericoacoara a top destination for kitesurfing and windsurfing; there's also decent surfing waves.
Other activities include visiting the dunes and lakes outside town by buggy; yoga classes; and strolling along the beach or through the hills to Pedra Furada, an arched rock 3km east of town that's become an emblem of Jeri.
The most popular day trips head east (to Preá, Pedro Furada, Lagoa Azul and, the belle of the ball, Lagoa Paraíso) for R$300 per buggy; or west (to Guriú and Tatajuba, with an option to see seahorses) for R$350. Each vehicle seats four; buggy drivers, hotels and tour operators will help to fill the spots with other travelers.
While the trip east to the lagoons offers the chance to cool off in postcard-perfect, brilliant blue lagoons (one of the highlights of a trip to Jeri), the trip to the west packs in more adventure. It includes a visit to the fishing village of Tatajuba, 24km from Jericoacoara, where there's a beach at the mouth of a tidal river, and a large lagoon among the dunes behind the village. There are barracas (stalls) beside the lagoon. One of the dunes overlooks the site of old Tatajuba, which had to be moved to its present site brick by brick. You can still see evidence of where the church used to be.
Both trips can also be done by ATV (R$300 to R$350) with each vehicle able to carry two.
Classes (R$30, 1½ hours) are usually held from 7am to 8am and 4pm to 5pm every day on the beach, followed daily (except Sunday) by a sunset roda de capoeira (open capoeira performance), which always attracts a crowd.
Steady, strong trade winds blowing across the Atlantic from Africa during the second half of the year place Brazil's northeast coast among the world's very best kitesurfing zones. Lovers of this exciting, physically demanding sport fly in from around the world and have spawned a whole infrastructure of kite schools, kite pousadas (guesthouses) and kite safaris. There is a full range of conditions from flat water to waves, and the steady easterly breeze blowing along the whole coast makes for some epic downwinder voyages.
Equipment rentals are widely available, but with rates of R$300 to R$315 per day it makes more sense for experienced surfers to bring their own. A rental car is a huge help both for transporting your gear and for reaching the best spots. Beginners can learn the art at almost any kitesurfing destination on the coast: a course of nine or 10 hours, usually spread over three days, costs around R$1450 to R$1800 with IKO-certified instructors. For proper safety standards and quality teaching, choose a school with instructors certified by the International Kiteboarding Organization (www.ikointl.com).
Jericoacoara is one of the most popular kitesurfing locations, thanks to its combination of traveler facilities and winds that blow at an average 23 to 30 knots for eight months of the year. From late June to February the breeze springs up mid-morning and blows until sunset; it's strongest in September and October. The best spot for beginners is Preá (13km east of Jeri) at low tide, where there's idyllic side-on-shore wind conditions. Other good spots are the river-mouth waters at Guriú, 12km west of Jeri (though it's becoming more crowded) and along the shore for several kilometers back toward Jeri; and Tatajuba, 12km beyond Guriú, where there's a flat-water lagoon. For experienced kitesurfers, the 25km of downwind conditions from the Pôr do Sol (Sunset) dune all the way to Tatajuba is a coveted route. It's also possible to kitesurf the entire journey from Fortaleza to Jericoacoara.
Jeri has numerous kite schools. Freelance teachers may charge less, but it's better to use a school with IKO instructors such as MH Kiteschool (IKO II Senior), Kiteiscool or Preá-based Rancho do Kite.
The whole coast around Jeri – from Barrinha, 6km east of Preá, to Camocim, 20km west of Tatajuba – is great for downwinders. It's easy to find a buggy for transport; for example, it's R$140 for four or five people from Jeri to Guriú. Much longer downwinders are equally possible on any stretch of the coast; adventures can be organized through local pousadas, agencies and kite schools. Jeri Off Road, for example, offers 'kitesurfaris' of several days with 4WD from Canoa Quebrada to Fortaleza (140km), Fortaleza to Jeri (300km), or Jeri to Barra Grande (100km), running around R$1000 per day per vehicle.
Other Northeast kitesurfing locations include Natal, São Miguel do Gostoso, Galinhos, Canoa Quebrada, Fortaleza, Cumbuco, Flecheiras and Icaraí de Amontada.
There are good waves for surfing (best from about March to May) right out in front of Praia de Jericoacoara. Neighboring Praia Malhada, round the bend to the east, has bigger waves for more advanced surfers. Board rental costs R$30 or so per hour but you can negotiate a better deal for longer rentals.
The same winds that make Jeri a kitesurfing mecca work for windsurfing too. July to January are the best months, with fine conditions for experienced riders right in front of Jeri beach.