Small as it is, there are some things about getting round João Pessoa which are only acquired through time driving around it. There are several main roads which can get you around the city quite quickly. The aim of this article is to identify those roads and routes and point out how to get the best out of them.
The main spine road from Praça da Independencia to the beaches of Tambau and Cabo Branco is a very important link when you find out how to use it correctly.
It’s true that locals sit by the road side and count the number of times the same car passes in front of them as bemused and confused drivers look for ways to get off it.
The following notes are written as if you were driving from the Praça da Independencia. The first thing to remember is that for most of its length, you can’t turn left at the lights. You have to turn right, then first left or right, then again at the next junction to bring you back to Epitacio. The junctions are controlled by lights to get you back onto Epitacio. You will see the bairros indicated on signs over the road, some of which even have maps.
There are some exceptions but it is best to be prepared by getting into the correct lane. Ave. Sen. Ruy Carneiro is the main road to the Manaira and Tambau beaches and there is a left turn from Epitacio. You will see signs for Manaira in good time to change lanes.
However, as a marker, when going over the bridge which crosses the BR230 you should already be in lane. Can’t see the bridge? To your left is a Mega Loja Maia store, to your right Bradesco Bank. The loja Maia store is also a good marker.
Turning right here on your way back to the city centre will take you to the BR230 (north and south).
Missed the lights and in the wrong lane? Don’t panic, the traffic usually eases up after this point and soon after you will come across several left turns located in the central reservation.
The first one is between the enormous Honda motorcycle dealership and the BR (green and yellow) petrol station. Oh no, passed that one too? Sally forth to the next one located several hundred metres further down the road. As the road dips, keep to the left and the left turn appears. If you pass Pao de Açucar on the right, you have gone too far and will have to continue through the lights to the final left turn.
You could continue to the beaches up to the final set of lights at the “Tambau Flat” hotel. At this point you have a choice to continue on to the beach and turn left up Ave. Tamandare. There are no traffic lights but be careful of the tourists and taxis pulling out of car park spaces. Further, the car watchers don’t think twice about running across the roads to collect their tips for watching your car. Turning right at the beach takes you down Ave. Cabo Branco.
There are permanent cameras at the lights by EXTRA supermarket and a mobile unit operates throughout the year. They tend to operate on the fast stretch between Miramar and Tambau (near Pao de Açucar).
This a very quick link to the Tambau and Manaira beaches from Epitacio Pessoa. So quick, in fact, that a permanent speed camera operates just between Motivo school and the main electricity sub station. It’s a 50km limit and covers the beach bound road only.
When returning along this same road to Epitacio be careful about lane discipline. Traffic driving in the far left lane may be filtering at the lights onto Epitacio. Better to stay in the far right? Perhaps, except that it merges with the middle lane just after the second set of lights. Manys the time I have seen arguments here as drivers refuse to yield
If you want to go north or south then decision time is now.You can continue straight to the end of the road into Tambau. At the beach,turn left to go along the Manaira sea front to Bessa.
However, if you want to go south to Tambau and Cabo Branco then you should look for the aforementioned electrical sub station and then the Citroen car dealer. A turn right after the car dealer onto Avenida Nego will take you all the way to mid Tambau or to the lights at Ave Professora Maria Sales where you can only turn right and back down to Epitacio.
Should you wish to go north, move into the nearside left hand lane on the Ave. Nego immediately after you have left Ave. Ruy Carneiro. The left lane takes a sharp left back up to some lights. Straight through the lights is Rua Joao Cancio da Silva in Manaira.
This is one of the main roads north and if you want to go south again, take any of the right hand roads onto Avenida Esperança (one way south).
Be careful when driving in Manaira and Tambau. Some drivers are not sure whether they are on a one way or two way street. It’s not unusual to find a car next to you at the lights on a two way street.
An avenue for the financially unrestricted, it offers some very fine shopping in the areas of art, clothing and restaurants and even designer kitchens and bathrooms amongst other things.
It is a very fast road, one way north to south offering access to the beach and interior of Manaira.
As a consequence, there are two 50km speed cameras; both are located just after the famous “Mangai” restaurant.
There are traffic lights too just after MAG shopping. Be warned, many drivers jump the lights.
At the junction with Ruy Carniero you can turn left, back along to Tambau and the beach. However, if you want to go south again you must turn off the Manaira beach road (two blocks up and two blocks in) and go back inland to find Edson Ramalho again.
At the junction with Ruy Carniero you can go straight on and down Ave. Professora Maria Sales, to Epitacio. There are traffic lights half way down this road too. Turning left at the Epitacio lights and then left again takes you all the way north again without having to go on the beach road which can feel a bit like rehearsals for Death Race 2000.
Ave Cabo Branco
While it is a beach road, it also the main direct link to the PB-008 which takes you to all the beaches on the littoral sul as well as the towns and villages.
It returns twice; the first point is at the round a bout at the end of the beach; the second point is at the top of the hill if you decide to go straight on.
The first return takes you north behind all the hotels etc of Cabo Branco.
Be warned; the road is normally one way (south to north) but between 5.00am and 8.00am it becomes two way because the beach road closes for walkers.The second return takes you to Altiplano descending the hill to Miramar where it meets the Beira Rio.
If you ask for the Beira Rio by its name on the map, Avenida Min. Jose Americo de Almeida, chances are no one would know where it is.
It is a very important link between Cabo Branco beach, bairro and the city centre. It’s a quieter drive with fewer traffic lights. It also benefits from a link to the BR230.Yes, there are speed cameras in both directions located in the bairro of Tambauzinho (or after you cross the bridge over the BR230 towards the beach)
If you really don’t need to go via Epitacio then a few minutes drive south is worth all the bother. Saying that, it does get affected by the rush hours.
No nicknames here and it’s not even a main road but a very useful one to know. When there has been an accident on Epitacio then everything seems to close down. If you are at the eastern end of Epitacio (beach end) don’t worry.
As all the traffic heads for Beira Rio, you drive to Espaço Cultural. From the centre of the huge building, there is a road which runs parallel to the Beira Rio and Epitacio all the way to Extra supermarket on Epitacio.
No lights or cameras and generally void of traffic. It’s like driving on a Sunday.