Ponta Negra was once one of the best and well frequented places of Manaus. Built in the 90s, this complex modernized about 2 km of the coast of Rio Negro, in the extreme west of the city, providing this space with sports facilities, bars and many other services. However, without receiving any maintenance during the following years, the site was deteriorating gradually and, nowadays, is far from a familiar and enjoyable environment. Unlike what happens in parks revitalized in the historic center, the presence of beggars and street peddlers is common throughout the entire length of the complex.
But all is not lost! In 2010, the City Government launched a revitalization project for Ponta Negra. New sports facilities, parks, modernized amphitheater, observatory tower, harbor and bars overlooking the Rio Negro are some of the proposals. Furthermore, the intention is to build a modern Municipal Theater on the banks of the river, with capacity for 1,400 people, and also attract private investment to install premium branded restaurants on the site, returning to Ponta Negra the status of well attended touristic sight. Part of Ponta Negra has been shut down and the construction work has already begun. The forecast for delivery of the new complex is in the first half of 2012.
Even with all its current problems, Ponta Negra is still a mandatory option for anyone visiting Manaus. In a city that has grown giving its back to the Rio Negro, this is one of the few places where one can admire the beauty of the river shores of Manaus. At this point, the river is several miles wide and, on the other side, bordering the river, the green wall of the forest rises. The view is simply breathtaking.
In a stark contrast to the abandonment of the site, the district of Ponta Negra is the richest of the city, with its luxury buildings just outside the complex. Tropical Hotel, the most traditional and luxurious in Manaus, is also located here, and has become the best spot to enjoy Ponta Negra. In fact, it will be the only option for the next months, while the fences of the works of the New Ponta Negra prevent the view of the river from the boardwalk.
The entrance in the hotel is permitted to everyone, even if you're not a guest, provided you are properly dressed (that is, no Speedos, bikinis or shirtless). Once inside, go to the pier, which can be reached after crossing a small trail of native forest. That, my friends, is the best spot to watch the sunset in Manaus, between 5:30 and 6:30 PM, a view that simply can not be described in words. This phenomenon is even more beautiful during the summer, especially in September and October. It is also during those months that a beautiful river beach springs up.
Within the hotel there are other interesting attractions. Walking through the corridors of the old main building, following the signs, you come to a mini zoo where you can find many animals of the region, including a beautiful jaguar. Better yet is to go to the hotel pool, where you'll find small ponds in the back with huge turtles swimming. Also at the pool area, small lakes in each side provide the only place within the city where you can see beautiful, although small, water lilies. One of the many absurdities of the so-called Capital of the Amazon...
Before leaving the complex, a visit to the Park Suites Tower is mandatory. This 20-store building was recently built as an annex to the Tropical Hotel, but now is operated independently by Park Suites. Right in the ground floor, following the signs, you reach the recreation area. A spectacular view takes the visitor by coming across an infinite pool, whose water spills around the edges and causes the impression that the pool and the Rio Negro are one. Cascades of water populated by tambaqui (an Amazonian fish) complete the picture of paradise. If you want you can ask for a drink at the bar and sit at one of the tables, playing the millionaire for a few minutes. ;-)
After the pool, take the elevator and go to the top floor of the building. If you're lucky, the door down the hall to the left will be open. Coming to a balcony, you will see the immensity of the Rio Negro on one side, and the endless green of the forest on the other. A sight that makes us feel small before such beauty and grandeur.
The entrance to the balcony is not permitted for non-guests. Therefore, if the door is locked, you will have to rely on the goodwill of any security or administrator that is nearby (don't even bother getting down to the reception to ask for permission). When I take someone out there I always say they are tourists who are passing through the city and would like to give a very quick look at the view. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
- Part of Ponta Negra is already closed for the works to revitalize the complex. The rest will be closed shortly.
- Currently, outside the Tropical Hotel, Ponta Negra is not a safe place to be, besides being full of beggars and street vendors.
- The Tropical Hotel pier is the best place in Manaus to see the sunset. A beautiful beach is formed from September to January.
Click here to see pictures of the current Ponta Negra.