Discovering Espírito Santo

One of the most popular tourist destinations in Brazil.

By Renata Solano

With average annual temperatures around 23°C, the state of Espírito Santo (ES) is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Brazil. As noted on the websites on the sites of the Empresa Brasileira de Turismo (Embratur), Espírito Santo is one of the states with the largest number of tourist attractions in Brazil and the world. And that’s not all! With over 3.4 million people, 78 municipalities and a total area of over 46,000 m², the offerings of activities and landscapes are enormous. The capixaba state has as its backdrop spectacular natural beauty such as, mountain ranges, rivers, beaches, lakes and forests.

The main tourist destinations in the state are the cities of Afonso Cláudio (rural tourism), Anchieta (camping, diving and beaches), Aracruz (camping and beaches), Conceição da Barra (camping, eco-tourism, beaches), Domingos Martins (eco-tourism, rural tourism), Fundão (beaches), Guarapari (camping, eco-tourism, islands, diving, beaches, rural tourism), Itapemirim (camping, islands, beaches), Linhares (camping, eco-tourism, beaches, rural tourism), Marataízes (beaches), Piuma (camping, islands, beaches), São Mateus (camping, eco-tourism, beaches), Serra (beaches, rural tourism), Vila Velha (beaches, rural tourism) and the capital, Vitória (beaches).

With around 40% of the territory on the coastline, Espírito Santo has one of the largest port complexes in South America, which includes the ports in Vitória, Tubarão, Vila Velha, Praia Mole, Ubu and Barra do Riacho. The beautiful capixaba coast offers visitors options of beaches and paradisiacal islands, with waters that vary between the different tones of green and blue. Besides the many beaches, the state has many important rivers, the Rio Doce is the most important; it begins in the state of Minas Gerais and is 944 km long. Other important rivers are: São Mateus, Itaúnas, Itapemirim, Jucu, Mucuri and Itabapoana.

ES is also known for the many locations that that serve as grounds for marine turtle eggs. In this state, there is a conservation project, called TAMAR, dedicated to the preservation of the marine turtle species which is an endangered species. Seven municipalities in the state are a base for the project: Itaunas, Guriri, Pontal do Ipiranga, Povoação, Vila de Regência, Ilha da Trindade and Anchieta. Monitoring of the beach, which is carried out by the teams at the TAMAR project, normally takes place between the months of September to March, which correspond with the end of the reproductive period of this species. In Espírito Santo, the Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis, the IBAMA, administrates seventeen areas of conservation, two national parks, six biological reservations, three private natural heritage reserves, two areas of environmental protection, one ecological station and three national forests.

According to information from the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística, IBGE, and the government in ES, we see that the capixabas were colonized by the Portuguese, Dutch, German and Italian. Because of this, the culture in the state has been greatly influenced by these nationalities which translates to infinite varities of cultural gatherings and parties. In Itapemirim, there is the traditional Festa do Atum e do Dourado, this being one of the main cultural fishing parties in Brazil, and also, the Festival de Frutos do Mar Capixaba, in the district of Itaipava.

In the municipality of Castelo, there is also the traditional Corpus Christi party, which takes place during the months of May and June, where handcrafted carpets with various squares and drawings inspired by religion are made. The carpets are basically prepared with flowers, colourful sawdust and grains. Another important event in Espirito Santo takes place in Colatina; this event brings people together from all over Brazil, who dress in an unusual way to listen, sing and dance to songs with provocative and ridiculous lyrics. Besides this, there is the Festival de Alegre, in the city that lends its name to the festival. This is an important event in the national music scene, which brings together the largest and most popular Brazilian bands and sometimes, international bands. Ibiraçu is the municipality that has the largest rodeo and is the stage for Sertaneja music every year. The largest events in the mountain region in ES are the Festival de Inverno de Domingos Martins and the Festa do Vinho.

There are also many other important cultural gatherings, such as the Festa da Penha, which is the largest religion festival in the state and unites around 900,000 people during Holy Week, at the Penha Convent in Vila Velha. During this period, many masses and pilgrimages are celebrated.

Besides the many tourist attractions, Espirito Santo has a very specific cuisine. The most famous culinary attractions in the state are the moqueca de camarão capixaba, the moqueca de peixe capixaba, pirão, caranguejada, casquinha de siri and the torta capixaba.

Don’t waste time, schedule a visit to Espírito Santo and enjoy your trip!