Information correct as of February 24, 2019
First of all… everything I previously read online was misleading. Below is the correct information to get to Sono Beach from Paratay as of February 2019.
I took the 11:30 am bus to go to Sono beach. Everything I read said to take the bus to Laranjeiras. This isn’t incorrect but there is no bus with this town listed. I wandered around the bus station for awhile not finding any signs for Laranjeiras until I asked. You need to take the bus to Vila Oratorio (at the time of writing, leaving from platform 8 of the Paratay station) which ends in Laranjeiras. The cost was R$5.
You can check the schedule board at the station for bus times but my experience was the buses rarely honour these schedules so you may want to turn up prepared to wait awhile. It’s Brazil.
The bus route to Laranjeiras is the same road as the bus to Trindade and takes a different road 40 minutes into the trip. In theory if you got an early start you could do both in one day by jumping off one bus at the turn off and onto the other.
The total bus trip was just under an hour, maybe 55 minutes. You will get off at the final bus stop so no worries about looking when to get off. The path to the hike isn’t blatantly obvious but you will pass a small restaurant on your right and then see a trail head marker with distances for the hikes.
Final bus stop Laranjeiras, start of the hike to Sono beach
After hiking for almost an hour, you will be treated with the most incredible beach views.
The hike is not difficult by any means. There are some bits of incline that will get your heart rate up but it is mostly well trekked without difficult footing. There is one spot where the path forks a little near the beginning but the other part is paved making it obvious to stay left. It was slippery in parts due to recent rain so you may want to wear shoes over flip flops.
If you run out of water or food because you underestimated hiking in 35 degree heat, no stress. The entire beach is lined with restaurants and huts (at least 5 or 6, maybe more). Not quite as secluded as I had anticipated. There were also a number of people camping as this appears to be a popular spot for locals, kind of reminding me of hiking the Kalalau trail in Hawaii.
I had read I could take a boat back to Paratay and noting that the hike back from Sono beach to Laranjeiras would have more incline, as well, the heat was rising, so I opted to explore the boat option.
I couldn’t quite figure out how people were getting boats off the beach so I approached a boat driver. Not speaking Portugese, I thought understood that he had agreed to take me back to Paraty at 5:30 pm for R$35.
THIS WAS NOT THE CASE.
Thankfully my new Brazilian friend Maria with excellent English from her year in Australia helped me sort this out after some laughter with the boat drivers at my naivity. Below is what I learned:
– There is a little blue hut (basically just a tarp on some wood) where the boat drivers hang out. It is just to the left of the Acai restaurant if facing away from the beach.
– The boats to Laranjeiras are $R35 and take approximately 10 minutes. This is a fixed rate and no negotiating. They’ve essentially formed a beach union of boat drivers.
– The final boat leaves at 5:30 pm. Plan accordingly or you can plan to camp out.
– You can get a boat to Paratay but it is R$600 and takes 2 hours. I did not explore this option further.
I opted to take the 10 minute boat to Laranjeiras for R$35 and then bus back to Paraty. The boat ride was as smooth as the absolutely gorgeous boat driver driving it.
I was dropped off at a dock in an area I didn’t recognize, in a gated community with a golf course. I waited 15 minutes for the shuttle van to town to catch the bus back to town. This shuttle is free with the boat ride. The shuttle ride was approx. 10 minutes so when you add the 10 min boat ride + 15 min wait + 10 min. shuttle to the bus stop in Laranjeiras, you aren’t saving a lot of time over hiking back. Whether you prefer the hour hike in the heat over a smooth boat ride with a gorgeous driver is your choice.
The shuttle dropped me off at a stop different than where I had arrived in Laranjeiras. I was pointed across the street to a bus stop (across from the white school) and waited half an hour for the bus back to Paraty.
I paid by R$5 and rode the bus for the almost hour back to Paraty.