The state of Bahia is situated half way up the coast of Brazil and is renowned for having some of the best and most fashionable beach destinations in the country. The state capital of Salvador is steeped in colonial history, in particular the Pelourinho, which was the centre of the slave trade and it’s due to this history that has created a city today full of West African cultures, religions and traditions.
Salvador is one of our favourite cities in Brazil because of this diversity. A wander through the historic Pelourinho is a must on any visit, taking in the many churches and art shops that are housed in the pastel coloured buildings which adorn the cobbled streets. As you wander through the city you will be bound to encounter drumming and music, often in preparation for carnival, while capoeira is practiced in the streets and black women in their big white dresses sell freshly fried Acarajé, a famous prawn street snack and pose for tourist photos. The city has a raucous carnival, very different to Rio de Janeiro’s, which is a lot of fun. If you are keen on trekking then a 60 minute flight can take you to the small former historic mining town of Lençois which is located in the heart of the Chapada Diamantina National Park. The park is one of the most beautiful in Brazil with some exceptional day treks plus the chance of multi-day hikes around the park. The park is also home to the highest waterfall in Brazil plus some fabulous caves.
Apart from a couple of nights in Salvador, most visitors to Bahia come for the beaches of which there are many superb options. To the immediate north of Salvador you will find Praia do Forte, a popular weekend getaway for Salvadoreans, and famous for its fort and turtle conversation centre. There are some big resorts including Brazil’s first eco-resort, the Tivoli. A boat trip from Salvador will take you to Tinharé Island where you can find the areas of Morro de Sao Paulo and Boipeba. These are very popular with backpackers but have some good hotel options too. Just be wary of the often-rough sea crossing! South of Salvador is where the better beach properties tend to be found. A drive or light aircraft flight will take you down to the Marau Peninsula. This is a relatively isolated strip of land with deserted beaches with a fabulous resort hotel plus a number of excellent small pousadas. Heading south of Marau will bring you to Itacaré , a popular area for surfers, served by Ilheus airport and home to the excellent Txai Resort. Further south of Itacaré you will encounter Porto Seguro which is the airport servicing many of Brazil’s best beach hotels. To the south of Porto Seguro, a 70-minute drive will bring you to Trancoso, perhaps the coolest beach town in Brazil and hugely popular with celebrities.