Lençóis Maranhenses

It seems incredible but in a country that keeps around 30% of the fresh water and shelters the largest rain forest in the world, we can find a “desert”.

Located in the State of Maranhão, on the north shore of Brazil, the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is an area of about 300 square kilometers (155,000 ha) of blinding white dunes and deep blue lagoons, forming one of the most beautiful and unique places in the world.
The dunes invade the continent over 50km (31 miles) from the cost creating a landscape that reminds a white bed sheet, when seen from above. That’s the reason of the name given to the region: “lençóis” in Portuguese means “bed sheets”.

But you may ask: -Lagoons ??? You told me it was a desert…
Yes, what defers this region from a desert is the amount of rain the drops over the dunes, creating ponds of crystal clear water on the depression between dunes. Despite its desert-like appearance, Lençóis Maranhenses records an annual rainfall of 1,600mm (i.e. 62.9 inches), 300 times more than in the Saara.

During the period of drought, the lagoons evaporates and become completely dried. After the rainy season, the lagoons are home of many species of fishes, turtles and clams. The mystery in this story lies in the fact that when the lagoons fill up, life comes back, as if they had never left the place. One of the hypotheses to explain the phenomenon is that the eggs of the fish and crabs are maintained alive in the sand, exploding when rain come back.

The strong heat in the region (over 30ºC) is rewarded by a cooling bath in the crystalline lagoons and the untouched beaches, that occupy about 70km. The most famous lagoon, due to its beauty, is the Blue Lagoon. In the borders of the park we can find big mangroves that are home of crabs, clams and birds. The region is one of the best in Brazil for Bird Watching, where it is possible to admire the “Maçarico”, the “Marreca-de-asa-azul” and the “Trinta-réis”.

The region has little infrastructure for tourism, but Barreirinhas has hotels, hostels, restaurants and handicrafts shops. In the villages it is possible to appreciate the typical food of the region and have contact with its sympathetic people.

The Lençóis Maranheses are certainly a unique place you will never forget.

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See details and pictures of each attraction of this destination.

Panoramic flight
River Preguiças
Lighthouse of Mandacaru
The Lagoons
The Dunes


  • Don’t forget your sunglasses. They are very important to protect the yeas while you are driving on the dunes. ­
  • The best time to visit the region is between May and October, when the lagoons are filled up.

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The temperature is constantly stable, rarely under 25C (77F) or over 35C (95). A cool breeze is always present to relieve the hot sun.
As mentioned in our introdution, despite its desert-like appearance, the Lençóis records a high annual rainfall rate. All this water comes down during the well marked rainy season, from January to June, when laggons become full of water. The rest of the year is the dry period, when the laggons drain completely or partially.
The best time to visit the region is after the rainy period, between May and October, when the lagoons are filled up and temperatures and more moderate.
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Just a few years ago, the region of Lençóis Maranhenses was completely isolated from the modern world with a very simple and welcoming fisherman population.
Despite increase in the number of tourists, these people still there and maintain the old simple habits as fishing in the period of rains and working in small plantations on the border of the Park during the dry season.
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Dunes Adventure   (Special Programs)
A journey through the wildest portion of the Brazilian Coast. You will leave Fortaleza and spend 9 days travelling through dunes and lagoons until you reach São Luis. This trip crosses 3 states and takes you to its most beautiful and untouched destinations: Jericoacoara, the Parnaiba Delta and the Lençois Maranhenses.

Natural Wonders   (Special Programs)
Imagine the Sahara Desert, with hundreds of miles of white dunes, but for each dune you climb, there’s a blue lagoon with refreshing water…  These are real places: Lençóis Maranhenses, Chapada Diamantina, Iguaçu Falls and the Amazon are four natural wonders found only in Brazil!

Lençois Maranhenses National Park   (Sun & Beach)
An unforgetable trip to admire the unique landscape composed by white dunes and deep blue lagoons at the impressive Lençóis Maranhenses National Park.

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Lençóis Maranhenses

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