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Marlins, Rua da Prainha s/n (tel. 075/3652-1242), the island's main tour operator, offers a number of trips. The most popular is the 8-hour boat trip around the island with plenty of stops for swimming or snorkeling. Another great boat tour goes out to Ilha de Boibepa (a small island off the main island). Tours cost R$50 per person, lunch not included. More active trips include hikes to waterfalls or a walk along the cliffs and beach to Gamboa for R$20 to R$30 per person.

Another operator that offers a number of interesting activities is Rota Tropical, Rua da Prainha 75 (along the trail that connects Second and First beach; tel. 075/3652-1151; www.morrodesaopaulobrasil.com.br). The company covers practically every possible destination in the region. Full-day boat tours range from R$60 to R$80 per person (minimum of two people). Other tours include horseback riding, various hikes, and boat tours. This tour operator also offers excellent, inexpensive accommodations packages at the Anima Hotel.

Along Third and Fourth beaches you will find a number of local horseback tour operators; the common rate is R$15 per person per hour. The best time to go is early in the morning, around 9am or 10am when the horses are fresh.

For scuba diving contact Companhia do Mergulho, Pousada Farol do Morro, Primeira Praia (tel. 075/3652-1200). Conditions are best in the summer months (Dec-Jan). In the winter (June-Sept), when the rains are heavy, visibility can be poor. A double dive with all equipment included costs R$150. The dive store also rents out masks and snorkels for R$10 to R$15.

Tip: Don't be late for the sunset: One of the best spots in Morro de São Paulo to watch the sunset is from the old fort next to the catamaran quay. From the docks take the path toward the left above the cliffs; it's an easy 15-minute walk. The fort, originally built in 1630 and expanded in 1728, is extremely photogenic; the red rocks glow in the rich light of the setting sun and keen spotters will often see dolphins or whales from their vantage point above the rocks.

Hitting the Beach & Exploring the Town

The main attraction of Morro de São Paulo is the beach, or better, the beaches. Each has a unique flavor. First Beach is mostly residential; Second Beach has lots of pousadas and people. This is where you'll find vendors, watersports, and restaurants and nightlife after sundown. Third Beach is quite narrow; at high tide it almost disappears. It is much quieter, perfect for a stroll. Fourth Beach is the (almost) deserted island tropical beach -- wide, white sand, palm trees, and a few small restaurants. The town itself consists of just a few streets and the main square. During the day it's pretty quiet, as most people hang out at the beach. In the evening, a crafts market starts up, attracting both locals and tourists to the main square. The restaurants surrounding the main square fill up with diners feasting on local seafood dishes. More active pursuits include boating, horseback riding, and hiking.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.