Guanabara Bay is considered by many to be the world’s most spectacular bay. Home to the city of Rio de Janeiro, Guanabara is a visual feast, from its waterfront cityscape to its huge and odd rock formations. Unfortunately, rampant overdevelopment and lack of sanitation regulation has left much of the bay in ecologically poor shape, but significant efforts are now underway to turn the situation around.
Tamoio and Tupiniquim tribespeople inhabited the area of Guanabara Bay in pre-Columbian times. The Portuguese explorer Gaspar de Lemos stumbled upon the bay on January 1, 1502, giving rise to the name of the city, Rio de Janeiro. During the colonial era, Guanabara became one of the most heavily fortified waterways in the Americas. Guanabara Bay is scheduled to host a number of aquatic events during the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Guanabara Bay is a huge, triangular body of water that juts inland off of Brazil’s southern Atlantic coastline. It is dotted with over a hundred islands, of which the largest is Governador Island. The west side of the bay is dominated by the sprawling development and harbor of Rio de Janeiro, with smaller urban areas scattered around the shore. Only the northeastern corner is reasonably undeveloped. A peninsula on the south side of the bay, which separates it from the Atlantic Ocean, is home the awesome rock formation known as Sugarloaf Mountain.
Guanabara Bay is, to many enthusiasts, a boater’s paradise, though environmental concerns have curbed boating activity in recent years. Generally the best way to truly appreciate the magnificence of the bay is from one of its surrounding mountains. The 1,300 foot peak of Sugarloaf is accessible by cable car, while the even taller peak known as Corcovado, which overlooks the city, offers a different vantage point. Web: www.riodejaneiro.com (official tourism website).