When to go
São Luís can be visited all year round. The Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is at its best Jul-Sep, when the fish-filled pools lie like a scattering of jewels on a cushion of soft white sand. Most rain falls Jan-Jun.
Brazilian Portuguese, a more languid and musical version of Portugal’s mother tongue.
Getting local currency
Brazilian Real. Notes can be withdrawn from the ATMs in central São Luís. Limits may be lower than your UK bank allows. ATMs close at 10pm.
GMT -3 hours. There is daylight saving Oct-end Feb (approx) when clocks are put forward one hour.
São Luís is reached by a 3.5 hour flight from Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo and is 2.5 hours by air from Brasilia and 3 hours 10mins from Recife.
The volcanic island of Fernando de Noronha (flights from Recife and Natal; the colonial port of Olinda, close to Recife; beach time at Pipa, one of the region - and country’s - loveliest bays.
Bumba-meu-Boi: São Luis, 24 Jun. Throughout June and especially several days running up to 24th, there are parades, dances and street music, reflecting a mix of African, Portuguese and indigenous culture.