When people give their definition of paradise it often includes white-sand beaches and warm, crystal clear water.
Like a gay guy looking at Megan Fox, I can appreciate the the beauty, but it’s not my idea of perfection.
My paradise is bright green foliage and cold dark water. It’s a day in the forest climbing up waterfalls and jumping into freezing cold natural pools.
You can blame it on growing up in Upstate New York where State Parks like Stony Brook and Letchworth were more enticing than the beaches of Lake Ontario.
Although they get overshadowed by all the beaches, Brazil offers an endless supply of these hidden gems and luckily for me, a few can be found right outside of Paraty.
With map studied and mountain bike rented, a friend and I set out to go find my paradise.
Our first stop was Cachoeira do Tobogã aka Cachoeira da Penha (Flume’s or Penha’s Waterfall) where we were greeted by a huge flat boulder in a series of small river waterfalls.
Like a natural slip-n-slide, we spent the morning running up and sliding down the smooth surface into the chilly river below. The sun broke through the trees just enough to warm the nearby rocks when we needed a break from the water.
From Penha’s Waterfall, we fueled up on a delicious lunch right across the park’s trailhead. Traditional Brazilian food like kibe and pasteis were on the menu.
Back on the bikes, we climbed our way up a bumpy dirt road through the forest and past the cachaca factories to Cachoeira da Pedra Branca (“White Stone’s Waterfall”).
We walked through the beautiful bamboo forest and emerged onto an incredible series of secluded waterfalls.
I spent the next hour jumping off waterfalls into pools of freezing cold water and laughing like I was 13 again.
This is my paradise.
Eventually the sun said it was time to wrap it up so we made our way back to Paraty.
Wet and happy, I road to town thinking about how I’m going to tell my future wife that this is where I want to honeymoon.
More photos of Paraty