vacations

Down the coast from Salvador to Itaunas

Beach time with Ammon and Sasha:

Having seen Salvador, we were ready to spend some time on the beach, not just see one in passing. The statement “I’m going to the beach” in Brazil brings up a whole lot of decision issues, like, “which beach?”. With thousands of kms of coastline, there are thousands of kms of beach as well. A quick search in the Salvador area turned up literally dozens of popular options. Maybe there are good choices, maybe it’s impossible to go wrong. In the end our decision making was very last-minute and seemed pretty random, but we enjoyed it in the end. South of Salvador the landscape changed from sugarcane fields and other agriculture to something a little more wild and tropical looking as we were winding through the remnants of the Atlantic rainforest in Brazil. It is still spring and a rainy season for the region. We got lucky and mostly had sun or cloud with only the occasional wet inconvenience.
Our first beach stop from Salvador was Itacare. An hour ferry hop across Salvador bay to Itaparica island and then on a bus for 7 hours down the coast, we figured it would be quieter than the more famous and popular beaches within daytripping distance. We really liked Itacare. It is mainly a surfing town and still has that laid-back vibe of well set up for tourism but not too overgrown and commercialized yet. There are actually 6 little beaches within town. 1 is the sheltered bay where the fishing boats park and the little patches of sand are set up for beach volleyball and football. Another nearby is the calm water beach where families and stand-up paddle boarders play with restaurants that set up their tables and chairs in the sand. The other 4, on the exposed coastal side of town, are the surf beaches, all connected by the same road and could be considered a continuation of the same beach except for the small rocky points dividing them. You can easily scramble over the rocks between beaches or as we ended up doing, find a nice vantage point and watch the surfers at play. Within short driving distances or even a hike through the woods, there are many other beaches nearby as well, though we found ourselves sufficiently satisfied and didn’t bother going to the others.

Beach #1 in Itacare.
Itacare’s tourist strip
The calm water beach #2 (Concha Beach)
The furthest surfing beach, Ribeira.
Just hanging out watching the surfers.

There are lots of places to stay and a short central tourist strip with lots of restaurants and shops but no hassle. I can imagine in the high season it gets much busier and has lots of entertainment options as well. For us chilled coconuts on the beach and Sasha working on her tan while watching surfers was the order of the day. I seem to lack the ability to tan. Whether this is due to genetics or just gross incompetence is still up for debate, but at best I have managed to turn myself into a mosaic of reds and white and everything in between. Brazilians have their tattoos, I have 50 shades of red…
We spent 5 nights in Itacare before moving on to Porto Seguro. Porto Seguro is now a very popular beach city, especially for Brazilian and South American tourists but the surrounding area is also known as the first landing place of the Portuguese in Brazil in 1500. While there are again many beaches in the area and many travel forums recommend the beaches south of the city in Arraial d’Ajuda and Trancoso we based ourselves on Taperapua beach to the north. This was mostly so we could meet up with Bruna and her family who were going to be spending a week holiday there around the same time. It was another Brazilian long weekend so things were generally pretty busy but we found ourselves at a relatively quiet section of beach and it was large enough for everyone to spread out. True summer beach culture doesn’t get started for another month so it has actually been a really nice time to explore the area. In the end we got stuck in Porto Seguro for another 4 nights, didn’t venture far and only met up with Bruna briefly. The beach and weather were nice though and it was good to get some final relaxation in.

Taperapua beach, Porto Seguro
Taperapua sunset.

Leaving Porto Seguro we jumped on another long bus to Conceicao da Barra, a small and very sleepy coastal town another 8 hours further south. They must have a very limited tourist season because I’d have to guess that 80% of everything was closed. We stayed the night there so the following morning we could make the trip up to nearby Itaunas. If you wanted somewhere to disappear for a while, Itaunas seemed like the perfect place. Very quiet, very small with only a dirt road in from C. da Barra. Itaunas is known for 2 things, a Forro music festival in July and its sand dunes. The dunes stretch for many kms along the coast and reach heights of up to 30m so we thought we’d take a look. Like I said the village is small and could be referred to as Itaunas 2.0 because the sand dunes buried the original town back in the 1960’s. Itaunas State Park lies just across the small river from town and has a few trails to take you up and over the dunes and down to the beach. Pretty area and we were 2 of the 4 people taking in the sights. Unfortunately, as with all of Brazil, the coast is pointed the wrong way for any hope of beautiful sunset views.

The dunes of Itaunas

 

Totally deserted

After a brief stay it was time for an overnight bus heading inland once again. We’d gotten quite the range of coastal views but our killing-time-in-Brazil phase was at an end and it was time to rejoin the original plan and get back to moving quickly.

Ammon

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