Esme, Schesme! Call it whatever you like, but Bella Swan and Edward Cullen’s honeymoon took place in Paraty, Brazil, a quaint colonial town about three hours southwest of Rio.
Of course, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson (along with Stephanie Meyer) did due diligence in the vibrant capital city (a few scenes were filmed in Rio’s Lapa district, a hotbed for samba and forro bars and they spent a night or two at Copacabana Palace), but it’s the old cobblestoned, colonial town of Paraty that plays “body double” for Isla Esme.
Probably a good thing, since Brazilian Twihards swarmed the young stars from the moment they arrived on a private chartered jet at Rio de Janeiro’s Antônio Carlos Jobim International Airport.
Paraty (pronounced Par-ach-ie, like the sandals) is off-the-beaten path and charmingly subdued. In fact, its cobblestone streets (at least in the Historic Central District) have sworn off cars, letting them in on Wednesdays only for deliveries. Allowed vehicles are bikes and horse-drawn carriages.
Stewart and Pattinson spent much of their time on boats, frolicking in Pedra Branca and Andorinhas waterfalls and jetting to the 300 beaches of Paraty’s Bay of Ilha Grande.
Dotted with tropical islands, this picturesque bay was once the port from which gold from Minas Gerais, one of the world’s richest gold mines, was transported. Pirates, hiding in the many coves, plundered the ships and drank cachaca, a sugar cane liquor produced by more than 250 local distilleries. The 720-mile Gold Trail starting in Paraty and leading through the Bocaina mountains and one of the last stands of Atlantic rainforest is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
After Brazil gained its independence from Portugal and gold production slowed down, Paraty was all but forgotten. The population declined from 16,000 to around 600. Today, it has been revived as a popular vacation spot for Brazilians who come to enjoy the pristine architecture, the low-key beaches and hikes through the rainforest.
As for Stewart and Pattinson, they enjoyed being “vampire newlyweds” in 17th century paradise.