Natal’s northern city beaches, Praia do Meio, Praia dos Artistas and Praia da Areia Preta, stretching 5km south from the Forte dos Reis Magos to Farol de Mãe Luiza lighthouse, are lackluster urban beaches that get crowded at weekends and holidays. South of the lighthouse, the coast road Via Costeira continues 8km south to Ponta Negra, passing the calm Praia da Barreira d’Água and its resort hotels.

The nearly 400km of coastline between Natal and the Ceará state border (along which the coast veers from east-facing to north-facing) is a growing playground for weekenders and day-trippers from Natal, but there are still dozens of lovely beaches to enjoy. The further from Natal you go, the more isolated and empty the beaches become.