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This is certainly the most famous tourist spot in Natal.
The village of Ponta Negra is a few square kilometers large. It used to be home for fishers and other working people; around early 1990's, the tourism businesses began to take ove the area; a few years ago, foreigner investors (notably Italians, Portuguese and other Europeans) started to pour money into the area, and tourism oriented businesses flourished.
Today, there are men at work all around the village. Medium and small hotels and flats are being built everywhere (there is no free space for bigger hotels - these are being built along the Via Costeira). Houses are being refurbished and adapted to become restaurants, shops, etc. There are few slots of real estate left (naturally, prices are rising).
However, if the hotels and flats are spread all over, most of the fun happens at the beach strip.
Ponta Negra beach is about 4 km long. In the south end is Morro do Careca, the most famous landmark of Natal. Walking northwards, one first sees about 2km of av. Erivan Franca, crowded with bars, restaurants, hotels, party houses, small shopping galleries, etc; then, the avenue ends, and the next 2km have just a walk way, lined with hotels and some kioskes.

It's not hard to see why this is the hot spot in Natal.
Morro do Careca is a combination of sea, mountain, dunes and green. Climbing the hill is forbidden, but many people don't care; the gay guides repeatedly mention the lateral trails of the hill as a good meeting point. Below, a few pictures of Morro do Careca, taken from several distances.

The avenue sideways is where most fun happens. That stretch is always crowded with tourists, both Brazilian and foreigners. It's not luxurious or posh, but it's cosy and clean. The sun is almost always shining, but it's always accompanied by a refresing wind. It's always busy with people of all walks of life, but everybody respects each other.
The pictures below were taken all at the same day early December 2,003; they show a little of what goes on everyday in Ponta Negra.

A few interesting bits of info about Ponta Negra:
- Things you can buy in Ponta Negra beach.
- Parking is a problem. The only way to park is along one side of the street, which besides being short, has several slots reserved to taxis, disabled, police, etc. There are a few private parking loots which charge up to R$ 3 and give no guarantees (if you manage to park in the street, separate a few coins to the "flanelinhas", those guys who "keep an eye on your car for you").
- The village is up the hill. As soon as the beach street ends, you have to walk up a steep hill to go to the village. That means that a hotel "100 meters away from the beach" may end up being not so close as you thought; however, there is the advantage that you can have a good view of the sea even if you are a little far from the shore line. Take a look at these pics of the hills of Ponta Negra.

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visitors since April 5th 2005