Alter do Chão
The cruise down the Rio Tapajós to the village of Alter do Chão, on the Lago Verde (Green Lake), is one of the best excursions from Santarém. The area has been called "the Caribbean of the Amazon," and when you see its clear green waters and its white-sand beaches you understand why. Buses also make the journey from Santarém to Alter do Chão regularly. From the village it's a short canoe ride across a narrow channel to the beach. Note that from April to July, when the water is high, the beach shrinks considerably.
On weekends vendors and small restaurants set up on the beach. A hiking trail 100 meters beyond the vendors winds about 1 mile through scrub forest to Serra Pelada (Naked Hill). Wear good shoes and take water and a camera for the hike to the top. The trail can be slick and is eroded in places, but it's only a couple of hundred meters from the base to the top. Lanche do Bené, near the water, is a great stop for a cold drink under an Indian almond tree.