Atins, Brazil and Lençóis Maranhenses National Park

One of nature’s most beautiful off-the-beaten-path surprises!


This sleepy little village is the absolute best place to start exploring Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, and if you don’t know what or where that is, take it from me, it is the most stunning natural landscape I have ever had the privilege of visiting and photographing.

Is Lençóis Maranhenses worth it?

Yes!! Make sure not to miss the unforgettable experience of visiting Lençóis Maranhenses National Park! Having traveled extensively worldwide, I can affirm that this place is truly one of a kind. The landscape with its white sand dunes and glistening waters is simply mesmerizing. Without a doubt, it is a mesmerizing destination that should be included in everyone’s Brazil travel itinerary.

Atins has a population of 100 people, maybe. It is a sand streets village of fisherman and cattle farmers (limited) and that’s really about it. Tourism is growing steadily and my guess is it will begin to quintuple and whatever comes after that in the upcoming years. It is truly a hidden gem along the backpacker route of South America and the time to visit is now.

The town sits at the far southern border of Lençóis Maranhenses and offers the perfect walking access into the park. It is a quiet, quaint experience and great place to chill in the hammock for an afternoon, reading, sharing laughs and stories of travels past, before or after smashing out an incredible natural trip into one of the most surreal landscapes on earth.

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SEE – Photos & Videos

Endless ripples of sand and water. It’s out of this world! at Lencois Maranhenses
Endless ripples of sand and water. It’s out of this world!
Time for a quick dip?? Most definitely! at Lencois Maranhenses
Time for a quick dip?? Most definitely!
Lençóis Maranhenses from the air
Lençóis Maranhenses from the air
A birds eye view of the beauty of Lençóis Maranhenses NP
A birds eye view of the beauty of Lençóis Maranhenses NP
Hammock sleeping arrangements – life is wonderful!at Lencois Maranhenses
Hammock sleeping arrangements – life is wonderful!
The vastness of the desert is mind blowing at Lencois Maranhenses National Park
The vastness of the desert is mind blowing
Earth, Water, Air at Lencois Maranhenses National Park
Earth, Water, Air
My sandy playground in Lencois Maranhenses National Park
My sandy playground
Abandoned buildings – all but a memory now at Lencois Maranhenses
Abandoned buildings – all but a memory now
4 wheel drive is a must for this desert of Lencois Maranhenses
4 wheel drive is a must for this desert
A river runs through it at Lencois Maranhenses
A river runs through it
The sand dunes pano of Lencois Maranhenses National Park
The sand dunes pano

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GO – Getting There

This is where things get tricky. From Jericoacoara the best way to reach Atins is by private transfer in a 4×4. Sadly this is incredibly expensive and even split between four it still ended up costing me 200 reais (100usd) for a six hour ride. This can be organized in one day from any accomm in Jeri.

The second way to reach Atins is by boat from Barreirinhas. Barreirinhas is typically the launch point for visiting Lençóis Maranhenses. This is where all of the tourists go. You have 4×4 access to two lagoons and the opportunity to take a half hour flight over the park (highly recommended). The boat can be organized any day from any hostel in the town. The ride is one and a half hours and winds its way through some pretty incredible scenery before finally docking at the beach of Atins. I took the boat from Atins to Barreirinhas after my time spent in Atins. This can be organized by Rita. The coast was 40 reias per person.

The sand dunes pano of Lencois Maranhenses National Park
The sand dunes pano of Lencois Maranhenses National Park

View Where Sidewalks End in a larger map

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Do – Activities & Attractions

Coming Soon!

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Stay – Accommodation

There are only two places to crash in Atins. Rita’s guest house and a kite surfing guest house of which I cannot remember the name. I stayed at Ritas as per the recommendation of an Australian I met in Jericoacoara. From Ritas it is possible to hire a guide to take you into the park. It was her brother who took us on a five hour walking tour to Lagoa Tropical (see photos), this is really the highlight of the stay and easy enough to organize from the guest house. Ritas also does a community pizza night once every week in her homemade stone pizza oven, amazing!

You can’t miss it, it is on the main street once you get dropped off by the boat. There is a green sign above the door and it is across from the only restaurant in town, also run by one of Ritas family members. From what I gather, she is always there, speaks Spanish, Portuguese, some English and is incredibly friendly. A truly great find.

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Eat – Restaurants

Coming Soon!

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Time – Seasonality & Schedules

The best time of year to visit is when the Lençóis Maranhenses Dunes carry the most water. The phenomenon of this location is due to evaporation over the Brazilian Amazon and seasonal rains passing the north east coast. Now as travellers we know that visiting a location as per annual weather patterns is increasingly changing I would say visiting Atins at any time of year is fine, however to ensure the most amount of water in the lagoons the best time of year to visit is probably July to September.

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Safety – Possible risks

Atins is incredibly safe and there is no sense of danger what so ever. That being said you should always be mindful of your necessities, passport, camera, etc.

Please Note: Travel inherently comes with an element of risk (just like crossing the road does). You are putting yourself in elements that are unfamiliar and foreign to your usual lifestyle and with that, become more susceptible to fall victim those who try to play off those unfamiliar to their local scams. There are also potential dangers in the environments to which you may not be accustomed to.

Please take extra care in travelling, ensure that you have adequate medical insurance (accidents seem to happen when you least expect them), and have let a trusted colleague, family member or friend know your whereabouts and activities.

Where Sidewalks End travel advises you to travel at your own risk, and to be extra aware of your surroundings (without letting it spoiling your time).

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Pay – How much does it cost?

We paid 20 Reais per night, per person. Ritas has 8 rooms, three triples, three doubles, and two mat. She also has space for about 10 hammocks strung in the common area out back by the pizza oven. I believe a hammock accomm goes for 10 Reias per night. She has a few but bringing your own is recommended.

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Responsible Travel – Best Practices

Coming Soon!

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Reality Check – Be Aware

Getting to and from Atins is not cheap. It is an extremely remote location and any transport in or out will cost you, although super worth it for the walking and camping ops throughout the southern part of the park.

There are not many options for places to crash and activities to do. Really your best bet is three days, two nights maximum. The day tour to Lagoa Tropical is a must do and if you are a keen kite surfer, the winds here are great and the waters shallow.

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JOIN US! WSE Travel Packages

This sounds like quite the adventure, right? We thought so too! Though we realize it can be pretty intimidating to get out there into the world on your own, especially when travelling to some of these off the beaten path locations. We love it when our readers give it a shot and try it for themselves! In fact, please leave us feedback if you do!! If trying something ‘this’ adventurous on your own is just a bit outside of your comfort zone, WSE Travel is here to help!

Click on this link for our ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Tours – packages that are highly personalized and tailored at your request.

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Have you ever come across a landscape that was so vast it never seemed to end? What type of environment was it (desert, forest, ocean, etc)?  Did you feel like you owned the planet, or were just a small spec in the middle of a massive mosaic?  

While you’re out there, pay a visit to the charming colonial town of Lençóis and Chapada da Diamantina National Park!

Please feel free to share your stories and thoughts in the comment section below!

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lençóis maranhenses vastness
Endless ripples of sand and water. It’s out of this world!

7 Responses

  1. Hi

    I was searching the web for info about this phenomenon and came across your interesting article about it.

    On one hand it really got me in the mood, and sounds like, as I was expecting, that it’s an out of this world experience. On the other hand, we are also coming from Jeri, and considering the price and effort to get there, we are not sure.
    Our main and biggest concern is weather it’s worth going this time of the year. If the lagoons are all dry, I guess it doesn’t…

    Would appreciate your response on the matter.

    Thanks a lot,

  2. Hi Paloma,

    I can’t remember the exact name of the company I flew with, but it doesn’t matter to book ahead, the flights leave daily per request. All you need to do is find an operator upon arrival and they’ll sort it out for you. I think I paid about 250 Reais (115 USD) give er take at the time.

    Have fun!!!! It is stunning!

  3. Hello Greg! I was wondering if by any chance you knew of a small plane company either in Barreirinhas or Atins with whom I could book a flight for photographing Lençóis Maranhenses National Park. Kind of 3 to 4 hours. The specifics are that the photographer would be able to open the door and that the pilot would be willing to do as many rounds as needed to have the perfect shot.

  4. Hi Connie,

    I would do one night in Barreirinhas and then the scenic flight. Then arrange a boat transfer (there an back) down River to Atins. Stay at least two nights in Atins and make sure you do the 5 hour walking tour, it is amazing! When the guide takes you to th only restaurant on the beach, get the prawns 🙂 Then catch your pre arranged boat transfer back to Barreirinhas.

    This is the most surreal landscape I have ever seen in my entire travels. It is an incredible place and complete hidden gem. Enjoy!!!

  5. Hi Greg, I am heading to Lencois Maranhanses in March this year and am interested to know whether you would recommend staying in Atins or Barreirinhas? Also, is transport easy to arrange at Atins? I am also interested in the scenic flight tour but presumably you can only arrange for that in Barreirinhas? Thanks 🙂

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