Casa Cairucu

Paraty, Rio de Janeiro Environs, Brazil Book from Book from £275 per night

Stylish beach house (sleeps 2-8), perched between lush rainforest and turquoise seas, a short boat ride from the colonial gem of Paraty
Casa Cairuçu (pronounced ky-ru-su) is no ordinary house rental. First off, you can only get here by boat: a 15-minute ride from the charming colonial town of Paraty which, incidentally, is one of our favourite spots in Brazil. The views from the wraparound balcony are glorious: over turquoise seas which teem with bright fish and passing turtles, and up to cloud-wreathed peaks behind. There's superb snorkelling and canoeing on your doorstep, and sandy beaches a short walk or boat ride away.

Secondly, has been sustainably built to use as little energy as possible. Solar panels heat the water and light sea breezes provide the air-conditioning (with the help of ceiling fans) - and this on the edge of the rainforest. There are comfortable sofas in the glass-fronted sitting room, colourful art and pocket-sprung mattresses in the 3 bedrooms - all painstakingly boated in by the British-Brazilian owners.

They spend time here every year, which means that you're treated as friends of friends by the lovely housekeeper (who comes in Mon-Sat 8am-1pm), her husband the very experienced boatman, and the rest of the local fishing community (who can sell you fresh snapper, mahi-mahi or shrimps). And, if you want to book a secret restaurant (tucked away on its own island), or clamber up a mini Sugar Loaf Mountain, their English-speaking 'remote' concierge knows every stone, cove and boatman in the Ilha Grande bay. Casa Cairucu offers enough adventures directly from the house to easily keep folk entertained for a week or more.

Highs

  • The sea in front of the house is warm and clean, perfect for swimming, snorkelling or dolphin-spotting from the veranda
  • It's 5 minutes' walk to the sandy, protected Praia do Bare, where kids play football on the beach; 10 minutes by boat to the idyllic Praia Vermelha
  • It's great for adventurous families (2 rooms can connect and 2 can be twin-bedded), and kitted out for little ones too (cot, monitor, high chair; the owners have young children)
  • Equally, it's an amazing honeymoon venue for a nature-loving couple; shut off 2 bedrooms and you'd have it all to yourself without rattling around
  • With just 3 nights minimum, and free extras (pre-stay shop, 2 transfers, and a boat excursion for i-escape guests), it need not be as expensive as you think

Lows

  • The combination of partial self-catering and no road access will not suit everyone: you need to plan your shopping carefully, or take boats to local restaurants (some will collect you for free)
  • The friendly housekeeper, Adriana, speaks very little English, but she knows the ropes for breakfast, clothes washing and cleaning (and she'll prepare lunch and dinner if you want for no charge)
  • Being in the rainforest, there is lots of insect life (though fewer mosquitoes than Paraty), and the birds can get a bit noisy (especially the local kingfisher!)
  • You need to know how things work - the generator, for example - but the concierge will show you, and lend you a local cellphone in case you need to call him during your stay
  • There's WiFi for emails and browsing, but it isn't strong enough for downloads

Best time to go

This stunning stretch of coast - the Costa Verde (green coast) - earns its name from the rain which can arrive at almost any time of year, though generally in no more than short showers. It tends to be sunniest from the end of March to November (though it can be quite cool at night from June to September). We like the shoulder season of April-June - which also attracts low season rates. The warmer but rainier season is November to March, with January and February being especially wet, though hotter too. Christmas, New Year and the February Carnival are extremely popular times - you'll need to book many months ahead, and pay higher rates. There are sea breezes throughout the year; Casa Cairucu is cooler than Paraty which in turn is cooler than Rio.

There are numerous festivals in Paraty throughout the year, the most famous one being FLIP - the international literary festival - in July. Other high times include Festival da Pinga (the Cachaça Festival) in August, the Festival of the Holy Ghost, celebrated 50 days after Easter Sunday, and the spectacular Bloco da Lama mud festival, coinciding with Carnival in February.

Our top tips

Phosphorescence in the water usually makes a dip off the jetty / deck at night like swimming in a sea of stars. It is a magical experience.

Straight across the bay is the excellent cachacaria (small rum factory) of Maria Izabel, where you can enjoy a short tour - and a leisurely tasting!

Come to Paraty around Full Moon and you'll experience the famous flooding phenomenon: tides rise and water pours through the historic district, creating a mini Venice for a few hours.

Great for...

Beach
Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • Coastal villa
  • 3 double/twin + 1 single
  • Self-catering; chef on request
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Concierge Service
  • Laundry Service
  • Remote concierge
  • Kayaks
  • Fishing rods
Room:

Rooms

There are 3 double/twin sea-facing bedrooms, all with ensuite bathrooms. In addition, there's a further single room on the other side of the house, with a bathroom next door, which might suit a nanny or older child. The main bedroom is slightly bigger than the other 2, and its bathroom has a glass wall with side views to garden and sea from the shower.

All of them have beautiful hardwood floors and white walls, with just a scattering of colourful local paintings and bright turquoise or lime green bedspreads. It's a clean and minimal effect which serves to emphasise the stunning outlooks to sea and rainforest.

Besides the sea breeze, all have eco-fans which keep them cool without draining the electricity. There's no air-con, but the louvred sliding doors mean you can sleep with them closed but still get a through draft.

Beds are comfortable, with pocket sprung mattresses, Egyptian cotton sheets and double tiered pillows; you can ask for wraparound mosquito nets if you want, though usually it is not too bad mozzie-wise. There are open wardrobes (high humidity means enclosed spaces are not ideal), wicker bedside tables - and not much furniture besides; but, when you consider that everything had to come in by boat, it's more than adequate.

Bathrooms have shower wetrooms, mosaic tiled floors and big mirrors over a stylish white porcelain sink. Water is solar heated and more than hot enough, with a backup boiler for occasional cold spells.

Features include:

  • Barbecue
  • CD player
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Cots Available
  • DVD player
  • Food blender
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob or stove
  • Kayaks
  • Local mobile phone
  • Microwave
  • Mosquito net
  • Oven
  • Radio
  • Satellite TV
  • Terrace
  • Toaster
  • Washing machine
  • WiFi

Eating

The owners used to live here for several months a year, so you can be sure to find those helpful extras like graters, squeezers, chopping boards, condiments etc in the fully equipped kitchen. The house has its own spring and filter tap (in the kitchen) so you don't need to buy bottled water.

A pre-arrival shopping service is included at the beginning of your stay. Let the owners know what you’d like (they’ll send you a list to help) and you just pay supermarket prices. If you're not sure where to start, owners Simon and Fabiola have put together a list of some of their favourite Brazilian dishes: you choose what takes your fancy and they will buy the ingredients and supply the recipes... a really helpful touch, and it saves a fortune compared to eating out in Paraty every night. Or Adriana the housekeeper can also help prepare at no extra cost.

Adriana prepares your choice of breakfast every morning - usually pao de queijo (cheese rolls), fruit, toast, eggs, coffee etc. The concierge can advise on the best shops and supermarkets in Paraty, and you're given the phone numbers and going rates for all the local boatmen, although most guests go out with experienced boatman Luis, Adriana’s husband.

If you're daunted by the idea of self-catering by boat, Adriana can pre-prepare the evening meal for you - fresh fish (peixe), squid (lula) or shrimps (camarao) are highlights.

Praia Vermelha has a restaurant on the beach that will take you back to the house by boat for a few Reals. Alternatively take a boat into Paraty, which has plenty of restaurants throughout the year. There are no restaurants open at night (only for lunch) within walking distance of the house.

Features include:

  • Barbecue
  • Breakfast by arrangement
  • Chef on request
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Food blender
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob or stove
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Shopping service
  • Toaster
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Swim, snorkel, canoe or stand up paddle through the warm, turquoise waters (2 Stand Up Paddles & 2 double kayaks and lifejackets are provided) along the coast and to nearby islands; the shore is rocky, but there's a pier, and a few minutes' walk away is the sandy beach and hamlet of Praia do Bare
  • An island nearby has a population of endangered golden lion tamarin monkeys (take bananas!)
  • Look for kingfishers and hummingbirds, or even dolphins in the bay; or take a boat (and a local) for some lazy fishing
  • 10 minutes by boat (or a 30-40 minute walk) is the stunning sandy beach of Praia Vermelha; and there are other, even more secluded coves on small islands within the bay (look out for turtles and starfish)
  • Take a boat into Unesco-listed Paraty : this charmingly preserved 17th-century colonial town, a former port for the gold mined in Minas Gerais, has cobbled streets, coloured houses, time-worn churches, trendy art galleries, artisan shops and quirky cafes with street artists and superb ice cream
  • Further afield, you'll find the fjord-like inlet of Mamangua, home to traditional fishermen and the challenging but spectacular summit of Pau de Acucar (like a smaller version of Rio's more famous Sugar Loaf)
  • Walks through the rainforest to local beaches are beautiful and take you through local Cairucu villages. The concierge can arrange trips such as sea kayaking excursions, fazenda farm visits and waterfall hikes (extra cost)
  • Hike a section of the Caminho de Ouro ('Gold Trail'), which slaves once carried gold along. Local guides will walk with you and explain the history as you go

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Dolphin watching
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Kayaking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Private guided tours
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming

Kids

Children are very welcome and it is a lovely place for adventurous kids of all ages - the owners spend time here every year with their young children. The large veranda has doors, making it a safe, enclosed place to play, and there are board games, too. The public footpath is good for older children to explore, and kayaks and fishing rods are fun for the teenagers. Two of the bedrooms can connect.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available

Baby equipment:

  • Travel cot
  • Baby monitor
  • Highchair
  • Baby bath

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Families Should Know:

You should be aware that you are in the forest, and near water. There is not a big garden or flat area apart from the house's veranda and deck (with gate)

Kid Friendly:

Location

Casa Cairucu is a short boat ride (10-30 mins, depending on the boat) from the colonial town of Paraty, which is halfway between Rio and São Paulo in southeast Brazil - approximately a 4-hour car journey from either.

By Air:
Fly to Rio's Galeão-Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport (240km away) or São Paulo's Guarulhos International Airport (290km away). For airlines serving these airports, please click on the links below. Access from São Paulo airport is easier because the airport is on the highway which leads here (so no need to cross the city).

From the Airport
Arrange a transfer from Rio or São Paulo - Paraty Tours offers good and frequent transfers in minibuses from airports / Rio hotels, or see below.

By Bus:
Air-conditioned coaches depart every few hours from the bus stations in Rio and São Paulo to Paraty (São Paulo is trickier as buses are less frequent). Travel first class because the difference in fares is minimal, but big in terms of comfort levels. The best options from Rio are the Costa Verde buses, which travel regularly from Novo Rio Rodoviara bus terminal (take a taxi there from the airport).

By Car:
There's not much point having a car during your stay, as the house itself is on a remote stretch of coast, a few km from the nearest road. If you want to explore the area around Paraty, there are 2 car rental companies in town, as well as taxis.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.

More on getting to Brazil and getting around

Airports:

  • Rio de Janeiro 236.0 km GIG
  • São Paulo Guarulhos 290.0 km GRU

Other:

  • Beach 0.2 km
  • Shops 6.0 km
  • Restaurant 4.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 3 independent reviews from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
9/10
Food
10/10
Service
10/10
Value
10/10
Overall

Our stay was perfect, bar a brief moment of inclement weather as we made our way to Casa Cairuçu by boat but there's nothing that Simon and his team could do about that!

We were a little apprehensive bringing two young children (4 & 7) and staying somewhere we felt looked fairly remote. It was hugely helpful that Harry had organised our shopping in advance. We provided them with the list last minute, but everything was ready upon our arrival.

Having the option for the housekeeper, Adriana, to cook for us was a real bonus- our meal had already been prepared for us when we arrived. Delicious and a first-rate service, particularly when you want to have a bit more flexibility. Rather than it being too remote, in reality, we were a walk or kayak away from enough restaurants and amenities. You need to plan a bit more in advance but there was a real pleasure in stepping back from the usual connected and convenience-led lifestyle.

The house itself is stunning and in good condition - it's well looked after and the daily housekeeping helps with the maintenance. The view from the terrace is breathtaking and the gardens surrounding the house make it feel very lush. Our children loved watching the hummingbirds take a morning drink. You can even shower in a bathroom that has a sliding door which opens out to the gardens with sea view - a real treat!

For night time amusements, there was an excellent DVD collection and books, that you can trade with any novels you've brought with you.

The service was great - nothing was too much trouble. We went on a boat trip, driven by Adriana's son and organised by Harry, which included snorkelling in a natural aquarium and spending an hour on a deserted beach. We didn't know much about the Costa Verde before - we now have no idea why this isn't a No.1 holiday destination.

A magical place. So much so, we didn't even bother to explore Paraty. We shall we back!

10/10,

We had such a wonderful time at this gorgeous house. The weather turned out to be good almost all the time. We had a half day of light rain during which we did the guided tour of Paraty. We loved everything about our stay there: the view, the beaches, our trips to Paraty on Luis' boat and being so well looked after by the staff. The highlight for our three daughters was going to the nearest beach on kayaks. They loved it and still talk about it!

We hope to visit Casa Cairucu another time soon!

10/10,

The house is fantastic, terrasse and view are unforgettable. Staff very kind and helpful. A great experience. Don't miss the passion mousse cooked by Adriana.

10/10,

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