All roads lead to Cabo Branco at least for newcomers (estrangeiros). All the estate agents want us to buy in João Pessoa’s most expensive neighbourhood (bairro). Known as an “area nobre” it can be divided into two parts ie; north and south. Starting at Epitacio Pessoa and moving south you will come across João Pessoas finest bars and restaurants. Beach side has a fine and varied selection of beach bars some open 24/6. These bars start to peter out around the Bikinis Beach Bar owned by the American Harvey. After Harvey’s there are probably just one or two bars till you get to the roundabout at the southern most tip of Cabo Branco.
Houses which front the main road are few and expensive and tend to be towards the quieter, southern end. You will find low rise, three storey blocks of flats fronting the beach. Many are available for rent too. Outside the 500m limit you will find taller blocks but none of the sky-scraper variety. The western border of Cabo Branco has a busy main road which serves as a return from the main beach road and from the PB008.
A curiosity of the beach road and its return from the roundabout is that for 3 hours in the morning (between 5.00am and 8.00am) they both change character. The beach road becomes pedestrianised and literally hundreds of walkers march down the sea front to the roundabout or on up to the Lighthouse (Farol). There is also an assortment of runners, skaters, cyclists all doing their thing. At night you can even hire skates and get skate lessons too. People get up as early as 5.00am to meet their friends and play volley and football. Just ask if you want to join in as there is always someone who wants to take a spell. Fancy a workout but don’t want to join a gym? Then go to the beach gym in front of Restaurant Terraço Brasil where you do circuits and various exercises.
The return road becomes a two way street. Time and time again people get caught out on this road and there are accidents. At 8.00am the road reverts to one way, south to north. At night the road becomes a service road for prostitutes who use the lay-bys and car parks to the rear of Cabo Branco. Fortunately, there has been a successful lobby against this activity and it is also heavily policed.
There are hardly any shops in Cabo Branco though a notable exception is the mini supermarket (mercado) right on the sea front towards the southern end. Perhaps there in lies the problem with Cabo Branco. Everywhere is a drive away or a long walk though there are plenty of taxis. It seems that a lot of people are holiday makers, long term leasers etc so it is difficult to build a community bond. Your neighbour may be a young family one week, the next an old couple and so on.
Opportunities to build are few and far between, due to the extremely high cost of land as well as the scarcity of land in the area. However, the land is there especially to the south. Some of the slum areas to the back (western edge) of Cabo Branco are being cleared for apartments. Note that building a house in the aforementioned area would be a waste of time if you wanted to take in the view.
João Pessoa hosts many festivals and the main stage is usually at the bust of Tamandare or junction with Tambau. Sometimes the stage is moved further down the Cabo Branco beach. As a consequence there is a big effect on mobility and parking in the area. There are times when it seems like every available space has been taken up in Cabo Branco’s side streets. Combine this with the normal restaurant parking (very few restaurants have off street parking and when they have, it is usually limited) and a grid lock situation appears. You have the sound of cars slowly driving round looking for a space (sometimes with the music system blasting away) and car doors opening and closing all hours of the night. Coupled with this you have the noise of revellers to-ing and fro-ing as well as people using the area as a toilet. Garage doors and trees smelling of pee do not make for an area nobre.
Saying that, nothing feels better than getting up first thing in the morning and walking out onto one of the premier beaches in the north east.