Second perhaps only to the beaches, one of the greatest attractions of Itamaracá is its natural beauty. With two thirds of the island covered in protected forests (Mata Atlantica), and with most human intervention occurring on the far ocean side, as you arrive on the bridge you are faced with a vista of tall green palm trees and forests spreading as far as the eye can see.
It is said that a person can survive with nothing on the island – there are lots of fish in the sea, a myriad of fruits and vegetables in the forests (that can also provide shelter), and coconut water and rain water to drink. Perhaps not advisable to try to live like this, but it is indicative of the abundance of nature on the island.
The best ways to view this is to trek through it, or take a boat trip round the island. When sailing up the leeward side of the island on the water, it may take 30 minutes before you see any evidence of human activity – such is the immenseness of the forests.
During the relevant seasons, various fruits and vegetables are offered for sale from roadside stands Not only do they offer unbelievable value and quality, but you can guarantee their organic origins, since they were probably harvested from the forests a short time before.
It is possible to encounter bananas, coconuts, avocados, mangoes, papaya, star fruit, breadfruit, jackfruit, rose apple (jambo), cherries, pitanga, and many others that you have probably never have heard of. But be prepared for them to be bigger and tastier than you are accustomed to…
There are no dangerous animals, snakes or spiders on the island, but you may encounter small marmoset monkeys, lizards, iguanas, chameleons, sloths, foxes, crabs, turtles, and there are even a small number of capybaras. And, of course, many birds.
Between the months of December and June, turtles lay eggs on the beaches, and you may be lucky enough to catch the night time scramble of the hatchlings back to the sea. There is also a local project to nurture baby turtles, and release them to the sea as well.