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Barreirinhas and Atins

Barreirinhas, Atins but also Santo Amaro do Maranhão are mostly known as the 3 gateways to the Lençóis Maranhenses Natural Park. However they are also wonderful stopovers in the inner Brazil of the North-Nordeste and that’s what we invite you discover now.

Geography and climate

The climate is the same as that of the Lençóis Maranhenses, which we describe in detail here: the climate of the Lençóis Maranhenses Park region


Barreirinhas - Brésil

Santo Amaro do Maranhão - Brésil

Atins - Brésil

  • Ideal > from May to September
  • Suitable > the rest of the year

Alternate calendar for photographers:

  • Ideal > from February to May
  • Suitable > the rest of the year

Barreirinhas, Atins et Santo Amaro in a few words

Brazil, Mandacaru village on the Rio PreguicasSanto Amaro, Barreirinhas and Atins have in common a great privilege, that of being the gateway to the Lençóis Maranhenses. Is it the same to discover this wonderful park from its various entry points? No, because each of them has its advantages, displays its particularity and reveals different dune landscapes. If you are not in good physical condition for 2 to 4-day treks then take the time to experience the national park through the prism of these 3 destinations. Santo Amaro in the west, Atins in the east, Barreirinhas further south: the Lençóis Maranhenses are surrounded by these 3 villages. They serve as privileged “base camps” for those who seek adventure, those who are in good physical condition and for kiteboarders and trekking enthusiasts who enjoy Sahara-like landscapes. However they are also suitable for those who plan to do half-day trips.


Barreirinhas in Brazil, the Lencois MaranhensesThe “star” of the Lençóis, a true natural jewel, forged its status as an essential crossing point as soon as it began to attract naturalist travelers. This small inland town is closely linked to the Rio Preguiças River. Wrapped in one of its curves, Barreirinhas welcomes its visitors with a large dune which has taken up residence on the edge of the small local “Promenade des Anglais”.

Its 50,000 inhabitants live to the rhythm of its guests and the 4-wheel drive is the king of vehicles there. Bumba meu Boi, vaquejada…. are a perfect finishing touch to the natural beauties they enjoy on a daily basis.


Atins, Cabure Pequenos beach, LencoisAtins is a charming little piece of Brazil: remote, isolated, rural…. It is so authentic that visitors arrive there with curiosity only to leave charmed, gripped by an experience steeped in the perfume of adventure that they had come for.

Its geographical location and the path that leads to this fishing village are part of the charm. Whether you arrive from the Lençóis at the end of the trek, or by boat from the Rio Preguiças you will be amazed by the exquisite feeling of having reached the end of the world.

Trapped in a sea of sand, Atins is influenced by the Lençóis in the east, by the ocean in the north and by the mouth of the river to the west. The houses still manage to take root in the thin sandy ground that precedes the water table.

The abundant vegetation nevertheless provides the necessary coolness to fully enjoy this special place. This village will give you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the “all Brazilian” daily lifestyle so specific to these remote regions.

A haven of peace for those who love the absolute calm of deserted beaches, a unique base camp to discover the Lençóis Maranhenses and an increasingly popular spot for kiteboarding.

Santo Amaro

The small village of Santo Amaro do Maranhão is crossed by the peaceful Rio Alegre (which means “joyful river”) Still difficult to reach, its people jealously protect its striking landscapes with amazing colors, pure lines and a clear horizon. You will appreciate its authenticity, a diversity of singular landscapes, lagoons of great beauty and its proximity to the first dunes of the Lençóis.

The Rio Preguiças, a poetic route not to be missed

Dunes and mangrove trees, rio PreguicasWithout this Rio Preguiças, this “lazy river”, the picture would not have been complete.
Ancient caatinga, moving dunes, groundwater, oasis… and mangrove forest! The presence of this river is an opportunity to witness the encounter (and often the struggle) between ecosystems that rarely meet in the world.

Going down or up this small portion of the Rio Preguiças by boat means enjoying the striking color contrasts and being surprised by the increasing density of mangrove trees as you get closer to the ocean.

Observing the fierce struggle between the dunes that constantly swallow the mangrove trees is a fascinating sight. When the dunes win a battle, the war is not lost for the mangrove forest which has long been yielding only to be reborn further afield.
If you are willing to get up early you will have the opportunity to see some kingfishers, herons and scarlet ibises among other birds, mangrove crabs but also to meet shrimp fishermen in pirogues.

This beautiful river with its mangrove trees and palm trees (the most famous of which is the Buriti palm tree) is both an important resource for its residents and a playground that children and adults alike cannot do without. The expression “the joys of swimming” takes on its full meaning and the locals spend a good share of their time there despite the presence of a few crocodiles further upstream !

To learn more about this region and the Lençóis Maranhenses continue your journey here

Our expert opinion

While you are in this area, continue eastwards and follow the Rota das Emoções. This route will lead you to experience:

  • Pequenos Lençóis,
  • Tutóia and Parnaíba, gateways to the Delta of the Americas
  • Barra Grande
  • Camocim
  • Jericoacoara

Why should you visit these towns and villages close to the Lençóis

  • The best way to discover the Lençóis Maranhenses
  • The opportunity to pretend you are Yann Arthus-Bertrand and fly over the Lençóis by helicopter
  • A quintessential family destination
  • A most unusual setting for kiteboarding enthusiasts
  • A discovery of typical Brazilian cities from inland.
  • A stopover in Mandacarú, a small village where a lighthouse overlooks the bay. You can climb up and enjoy a 360° view of the whole region.
  • The discovery of the Mangrove ecosystem
  • Enjoy differents atmospheres depending on the village where you will stop over in the evening

Information and anecdotes

Origin of the name Barreirinhas

The name Barreirinhas comes from the time when the inhabitants built small walls of beaten earth and clay on the banks of the Preguiças River. These walls were also an attempt to avoid the invasion of the dunes. They looked like small barriers, “Barreirinhas”.

An extremely powerful tide

In Barreirinhas, some 40 kilometres from the mouth of the river, if you take a canoe and decide to row against the current to be sure to get back to your starting point easily once tired… you may end up having to row too on the way back! Indeed, the strength of the tide is such that Rio Preguiças changes direction every 6 hours…