Mind-blowing scenery, an adventurous trip in the middle of nature.
We felt as being alone in the world. This national park is probably one of the kept secret natural wonders of the world (not for long!). We had to see it with our own eyes! Not only is the beauty of these white sand dunes with lagoons filled up with rainwater absolutely breathtaking but there is hardly anyone there as it only open to tourism less than 10 years ago. It is as much fun to discover for adults as for young children (4, 7 and 9 years old).
Discover Stephanie’s travel profile and all her favorite trip itineraries.
Total for a family of 5:
Lodging, 4×4, Flight over The Lençois:: $ 3900/5 nights

Flights from Rio de Janeiro: $ 800

Click here to get lodging and activity tips.

Flight above the desert

Walking & jumping  ALONE in white sand dunes.
Authentic, no mass tourism
Arrival Airport: São Luis
Direct flights from
São Paulo or Brasilia. 

With one connecting flights in Sāo Paulo or Brasilia:
From Rio de Janeiro
: total of 6 hours
From New York: total of 17 hours
From Europe: total of 20 hours

A snapshot

1 to 2: São Luis to Barreirinhas:

By car: 300 km/4 hours
2 to 3: Barreirinhas to Atins: 
4 hours by boat 
3 to 2: Atins to Barreirinhas: 
3 hours by 4×4

A snapshot


274 km / 4h

  • We stayed at the pousada (small hotel) Encantes do Nordeste. It is a bit remote from the town center but very charming and quiet. The pool is beautiful. The outdoor restaurant by the river is very enjoyable while the kids run around!
    A must do: a flight over the Lençois


4 hours by boat
By boat to Atins
    A 4 hours boat trip on the Rio Preguicas within the mangroves where you will start discovering the dunes, ie the small Lencois with short stops in: 
    Vassouras (first dunes, small monkeys are everywhere and after the tourists, watch out!), 
    Mandacuru (fishing village with a beautiful lighthouse)
    Caburé (delicious restaurants on the strip of sand, you also can decide to go for a swim or do some quad bikes on this endless beach before reaching Atins.


3 nights

  • We stayed in a Pousada Oceano Atins on a deserted beach in a white sand village! Right on the beach, exclusive, very charming and authentic! It feels like paradise on earth!
    Sunset while admiring the red ibis crossing over the river.
    Enjoy a deserted paradisiac beach right outside the pousada.
    Walk in the sand dunes to different lagoons:  the Blue Lagoon, Fish Lagoon… Sliding on the sand and swimming into the pure water!
    Sunset over the Tropical lagoon. We didn’t know at the time that from the Bonita lagoon (a bit further away) you get the best view over the sand dunes.
    Horse riding on the beach with kids slightly older is another great activity.


4 hours by 4×4
Back to Barreirinhas

  • We stayed in the same Pousada as when we arrived with an outside restaurant along the river. 

  • Enjoyed our last night before going back to São Luis airport.




  • The best season is after the rainy season as the lagoons are full of rainwater between the end of April and August.
  • The sun is very strong: suntan cream, sun glasses and hats are compulsory.
  • No network in Atins and no cash machine and it’s often impossible to pay by card.
  • The restaurants are authentic and the food choice limited to fresh fish or prawns but they are delicious! 
  • You can’t explore the dunes by yourself. You need a driver and a guide who will give you explanations on the formation of these dunes as well on the wildlife.
  • If you travel from Europe or the US, we would recommend a one week stay in another part of the country for example, Rio de Janeiro,  after or before this itinerary. In this way you get the most out of your long travel time.


Albane  tested this trip in February 2017 with her husband, her 8 years old twins and another family of 4. They really enjoyed their stay. Paradise, best ever boat trip, amazing snorkeling, fishing,…

They booked their trip through I Travel by boat. Their contact was Stef. She was a great organiser and made a perfect match for the choice of the skipper. They rented a catamaran, it is more comfortable than a monohull sailboat.

They started their sailing trip at Green Island. From there, they went to Barbecue island also called Turtle island. Baja Holandes was the best swimming spot and the wildest island. They saw a crocodile (impressive). Waisalardlup was the best snorkeling spot.

Restaurants Panama City: Siroco, the fish marketCBP capital bistro

Don’t miss the Frank Ghery bio museum in Panama City and a bike tour in Casco Viejo.

Hotel Panama City: American Trade Hotel

Photo @albane G ©


Some extra tips from Alexandra. She tested this trip in February 2017 with her husband and her 2 boys. One of their best trip ever. They loved the richness of underwater. They saw a lot of barracuda’s and sharks.

They also booked their trip through I Travel by boat. They were very satisfied by the skipper and the boat.

The boat was equipped with a kayak. This was really fun for the boys. They played hours in the water with it.

Hotel Panama City: Central Hotel Panama

The best period to do this trip is from November to March. In April, it might start to be too hot and there are a lot of mosquitoes. On one of the island, we were invaded by sun flies.

Photo @alexandra B ©


Photo @StephanieF ©
Photo @lailabog ©