Parnaíba was a major port until its river silted up and its carnaúba-palm wax industry died with the invention of artificial waxes for cosmetics and car polish. Today it soldiers on as a market town and transit point for the new port at nearby Luís Correia. For travelers, it’s a stepping stone on the coastal route from Jericoacoara to the Lençóis Maranhenses, and the starting point for trips into the beautiful Delta do Parnaíba.
The town is orderly and tidy, and a pleasant enough place to overnight. Visitors gravitate to Porto das Barcas on the Rio Igaraću waterfront, a small complex of craft shops, restaurants and travel agencies in converted 18th- and 19th-century warehouses. The main street, Av Presidente Vargas, runs 1km east from here; the bus station is 5km southeast.
Note that the area surrounding the port is not particularly safe after dark – take a taxi.