Guanabara Bay is the deepest natural ocean bay in the world located in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There are four major cities and more than 130 islands which are connected with this magnificent bay. According to size of the bay, which is 412 square kilometers, it is the 2nd largest bay in Brazil. The four cities connected with the Guanabara Bay are Rio de Janeiro and Duque de Caxias on its western shores and Sao Goncalo and Niteroi on its Eastern shores.
The bay has a high volume of ship and boat traffic. The two airports and the major port of Rio de Janeiro are also located on its shores. The two of the largest islands in the bay are connected by a maze of smaller bridges. The bay used to be home to many whales but due to urbanization and industrialization the bay has suffered a lot of damage. There have been three major oil spills in this bay as well, which has also caused severe damage to the ecosystem of the bay. The bay has seen a severe decline in the population of whales and other marine life due to deforestation and pollution of its waters. However, the bay continues to be one of the spectacular tourist attraction sites due to its location, surroundings and the party environment for tourists.
History of Guanabara Bay
Guanabara Bay was discovered by Portuguese in January of 1502; hence it was given a name Ria de Janeiro which means the “Lagoon of January”. Later the name changed to Rio de Janeiro which means January’s river. The city of Rio de Janeiro is named after this bay.
French soldiers invaded the region in 1555 but they could not stay for a much longer period. Although they built a fort in the Serigipe Island near the shore of the bay, but they were expelled by the Portuguese military in 1563. The colonial government built several forts at many points to make it unconquerable from the sea. Islands around the bay served as storehouses, oil reservoirs, drydocks and hospitals for the navy. Due to a controversial dispute with an American treasure hunter, Brazil government forbid the underwater exploration in 1985.
8 Tourist Attractions at Guanabara Bay
Sugarloaf Mountain at the bay is one of the most recognizable natural landmarks in Brazil. The mountain’s peak offers beautiful views of the Guanabara bay, Rio de Janeiro city, Niteroi city and the Atlantic Ocean. You can reach to the top by cable cars. The slow shaping of land has naturally sculptured the base of the mountain by removing the earth which has resulted in a beautiful artistic illusion. It seems like that the mountain has fallen from the sky.
Copacabana has become an incredibly famous trademark around the world because of this hub which is full of fun activities. There is also a Copacabana café in Aquaventure water park in Dubai, dedicated to this beach. Yes, the beach is famous all over the world. It is considered as one of the must visit spots in Rio de Janeiro.
This beach is wonderfully entertaining for the visitors. You will see many tourists and locals enjoying, partying and playing football or volleyball. The promenade on the beach is designed to give a wave feeling. There is music, bars and screening of football matches.
Ipanema Beach at Guanabara Bay
This beach along the Guanabara Bay is also one of the most famous beaches in the world. It also gained more fame from the Brazilian bossa nova and jazz song “The Girl from Ipanema”. It has also been nominated as the sexiest beach in the world because of the environment and locals who visit. It will be difficult for you to decide which beach is better between Copacabana and Ipanema, so better visit both of them. This beach area also hosts a hippie market every Sunday.
Parque do Flamengo
This park is located along the shore of Guanabara Bay. This the largest public park of Rio de Janeiro with a size of 300 acres of land. The park is a famous destination for families and groups who come here to spend a day to relax and enjoy activities near the beach. You can ride a bike or enjoy a picnic in this park. The park also has beautiful gardens which are well-designed by architects.
Serra do Mar
Serra do Mar is the mountain range which is bordering the Guanabara Bay and continues 1500 kilometers along with the coast of the state of Rio de Janeiro. This beautiful landscape is very eye catching and highlights the whole area with the beautiful Guanabara Bay at its foot.
Paqueta at Guanabara Bay
Ilha de Paqueta is a wonderful island on the shores of Guanabara bay. This island is famous because of its preserved natural environment. Automobiles are not allowed in this island. If you want to go to this island, you will need a bike or a horse ride. The island has many beautiful beaches and an old town which makes you feel that you have stepped back in time. The island is also famous for the Municipal Natural Park Darke de Mattos, which is an amazing place for nature lovers.
Isle of Villegagnon at Guanabara Bay
This island takes you back in the history with its name. The name of the island is after a French admiral, Nicolas Durand de Villegagnon. This was one of the bays which were captured by the French soldiers after the invasion of 1555. The French were expelled in 1563 but the name of the island was not changed. The island is now home to the Naval school of Brazil.
Cruising in Guanabara Bay
You can choose from numerous cruise packages including lunch or dinner at the Guanabara Bay. The Bay extends for 31 kilometers in the sea and the cruise will take you on an amazing tour of the bay and Atlantic Ocean. When you are in the cruise, you will enjoy the spectacular view of the Sugarloaf Mountain from a different angle. You will also see some of the lovely islands from the list of more than 130 islands around the bay.
From the sea, you will enjoy awesome views of the statue of Christ the Redeemer which is the iconic landmark of the Rio de Janeiro city. You will pass by various beaches of Niteroi and scenic landscapes such as the Serra do Mar.