Paraty is a small town on the coast of Brazil, located in the Atlantic rainforest, founded formally as a town by Portuguese colonizers in 1667, in a region populated by the Guaianás Indians.

The Guaianás people who lived where the city now stands called the entire area “Paraty.” In the Tupi language, “Paraty” means “river of fish,” or “fish that flash like silver” when they jump out of the water (a fitting name). Even today, the Brazilian Mullet (Mugil brasiliensis) still come back to spawn in the rivers that spill into the Bay of Paraty. When the region was colonized by the Portuguese, they adopted the Guaianás name for their new town.

The historic town down by the waterfront was designed by Masons, and is now the center of tourist trade. It’s well worth a visit, if just to see the stores.


But there is so much more to see just beyond the shoreline of Paraty! We spent two days on the water, in local boats painted bright colors. Images of these boats will evoke Paraty for me from this day forward.

The boat we went out on the first day, the Maritiago (for Maria and Tiago), does double duty: during the week, it is Tiago’s working fishing boat, and on weekends in the summer, it is for rent by small groups, with him acting as skipper.


These are working boats, with serviceable engines called tok-toks (that’s the sound they make: tok-tok-tok-tok), not fancy water toys. They don’t leave much wake as they plow through the water, but I think this is an excellent way to enjoy the scenery and make the time to relax.

Because I’m a water-rat, I head for the docks at any seaside town and look for a way to get into or on the water. We spent two days out on the Bay of Paraty, exploring islands and visiting fishing villages along the shore. Delighted by the land and water, I was enchanted by the colorful boats. Given the chance when you visit Paraty, get out on the water!