From the air, Lençóis Maranhenses looks like a paradise with white fine wavy sand dunes interconnected with emerald and turquoise lagoons sparkling under the sunshine.

Lençóis Maranhenses in Portuguese literally means “bed-sheets of Maranhão”. The vast silky sands are seen as a big sheet covering the whole area.

Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is located in Maranhão state, in Northeastern coast of Brazil, many people can be surprised by nature’s creativity. Looking at photos of this place, lots of people mistakenly believed that it is an artificial pool in the middle of blindingly white sand desert area.

The intensive rolling sand dunes of Lençóis Maranhenses national park

However, Lençóis Maranhenses is actually an absolutely natural park with white sand with the high up to 40m intermixed with emerald lagoons. It is one of the rarest landscapes on the planet: including a desert and a tropical paradise.

Stunning turquoise lagoons formed during the rainy season (from July – September).

Lençóis Maranhenses receives quite a big amount of rain annually, so it is hard to categorize as an archetypal desert. The rainwater accumulates in the valleys in between sand dunes creating numerous lagoons in every corner of the over-150-hectare desert. It is unexpected that there is such a marvelous “tropical paradise” hidden in the windswept and sandy area.

Stretching miles upon miles on the Maranhão coast, it also names as “sea of sand dunes”.

In some moments of the year, these lagoons can reach 3m in depth and temperature rises up to 300 C, becoming surprisingly wonderful natural pools.

The crystal-clear lagoons become perfect swimming pools in tropical paradise.

Visitors can swim in the lagoons which have a safe water level. Additionally, if having a chance to wallow yourself in the natural pools, please do not be surprised if seeing shoals of fish and turtle swimming from two rivers which flow through the park. Once the dry season returns, these creatures completely vanish without a trace.

Natural pool in desert

Lençóis Maranhenses National Park covers quite a big area and open for everyone to explore but still sparse. To visit Lençóis Maranhenses, you can fly to São Luís city, and move to Barreirinhas city then. From there, visitors can take Jeeps to explore a magical slice of beautiful Brazil.

Further information

Address: Barreirinhas – State of Maranhão, 65590-000, Brazil

Area: 1,550 km²

Phone: (+55) 98 3349-1267

Established: 1981

Management: Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources

Best time to visit: From May to September, after the rains, and before the lakes dry out.

How to get there: from São Luís you can get to the Lençóis by plane, van, regular bus, or taxi. There are regular buses leaving São Luís for Barreirinhas on a daily basis. The trip takes four hours. There are also private transfers that will get you there in three hours.

See more Lençóis Maranhenses National Park’s photos