São Sebastião is a coastal city and a municipality on the North Coast of São Paulo. The city is known for its historical heritage and for the Maresias beach, part of the international surf circuit and regarded as “the Ipanema of São Paulo”.
São Sebastião is a long and noncontiguous coastal area, offering an incredible number of beaches, the majority with a somewhat rustic aspect. In the beginning of the 1990s, its tropical climate and savage feel attracted wealthy Paulistas who, suffering with the infrastructure problems of the Baixada Santista, looked for calmer beaches and less congested roads. Nowadays, the reality of the chaotic traffic affects São Sebastião, but the municipality resists growth through laws, such as one that forbids the construction of tall buildings.
Intercity buses between São Paulo and São Sebastião are provided by Litorânea and can be taken from the Tietê intercity bus terminal. Note that there are two types of buses: one takes 3½ hr and another takes 5 hr 25 min, and they cost about the same, about R$70. There are also less frequent buses to Maresias and to the ferry boat to Ilhabela. Check the website for detailed information.
Normandy runs a bus from Paraty to São Sebastião twice daily.
Many people offer the trip for R$35-40. Read more here.
Coming from São Paulo, there are three routes of access.
- Take SP-070 (Trabalhadores/Ayrton Senna) and go to São José dos Campos, then take SP-099 (Tamoios) to Caraguatatuba, on the coast, and finally BR-101 (Rio-Santos) south to São Sebastião.
- Take SP-150 (Anchieta) or SP-160 (Imigrantes). At Cubatão, follow the signs to go to Bertioga, north via BR-101 (Rio-Santos). São Sebastião is past Bertioga.
- Take SP-070 (Trabalhadores/Ayrton Senna) and go to Mogi das Cruzes, then take SP-098 (Mogi-Bertioga) to Bertioga, on the coast, and finally BR-101 (Rio-Santos) north to São Sebastião. This path is somewhat more complicated as you need to find your way through Mogi das Cruzes.
The “city” of São Sebastião is more properly described as a compact downtown and various discontinuous or semi-continuous coastal suburbs, distributed along 100 km of coast.
Downtown is small enough to walk around. A map can be obtained at the tourist information office located on Av. Dr. Altono Arantes (not far from the ferry terminal). The ferry terminal is located at the end of Av. Antonio Januário de Nascimento; look for the signs ‘Balsa’.
To get around the beaches, you may take bus 51 operated by Ecobus, which departs every 20-30 minutes (more on weekends). This bus goes from the intercity bus terminal (Rodoviária) downtown (from inside, not the bus stop outside) to the Boracéia beach, at the division with Bertioga. Getting around by car using BR-101 should be straightforward.