Salvador – Welcome to Old World Charm

If you’re looking for some true old world charm in your travels, Salvador is the place to go. Simply follow the cobblestone streets of this friendly city to fun and adventure. Whether you’re looking to take in some rich Brazilian culture, dance the night away to some local Samba, sample some Brazilian gourmet food, explore the Amazon rainforest, or simply relax on the beautiful sandy beach – you can do it all in Salvador.

 

A great way to be introduced to the city before exploring on your own is to hire a “guia de Salvador”, or a Brazilian tour guide or to catch a ride on the Salvador tour bus. Once you have your bearings, you can choose from an abundance of attractions, such as the Igreja Sao Francisco, which is a beautiful church decorated with precious stones, gold, silver, and features beautiful ceiling art. Or maybe check out the Mam Museu de Arte Moderna, which is a modern art museum featured in multiple colonial buildings and is highly rated by tourists. One recommendation if you are still unsure where to start is to visit Salvador’s old city center, Pelourinho, and work your way out in the direction of the shore.

Now we get to the best part – the food. Salvador is widely known in Brazil to have some of the best cuisine and the best restaurants. Even the street vendors offer food so delicious that you’ll reconsider what you’ve been eating all your life until this point. Restaurants serving delicious local dishes are abound, but if you really want a memorable experience visit the Babagula dinner theatre. Not only are you presented with delicious meats one after the other by skilled waiters, but you can take in a show featuring Afro-Brazilian traditional dancing and Capoeira (Brazilian dance fighting). Delicious food and a show experience right from your table!

Of course you can’t forget about Salvador’s gorgeous beaches. The most popular are Flamengo beach and Stella Maris beach. These both are excellent spots to relax on the sand, grab a cold beer, take in the scenery, and maybe catch a decent wave or two. The waters surrounding these two beaches are actually excellent for surfing. If you prefer some calmer waters, though, and more Brazilian locals than tourists you can visit one of the other three popular beaches – Jaguaribe, Itapoa, and Piata.

Salvador is one of the most ideal vacation spots Brazil has to offer, simply because it has everything: Great food, beautiful scenery, plenty of culture and entertainment, and beautiful beaches. Not to mention the Salvador locals are thought to be among the friendliest and most laidback in all of Brazil. Who knows? You may decide to take up permanent residency yourself after your visit!

Fun and Serenity at Lopes Mendes Beach

To reach Lopes Mendes beach you must first take a 3 hour bus and boat trip from Rio de Janeiro to the beautiful island of Ilha Grande. Ilha Grande is considered to have some of the nicest beaches in Brazil, with Lopes Mendes being one of them. In fact, Vogue Magazine voted one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in the world about 3 years ago.

There’s something for everyone to enjoy here. Snorkeling, kayaking, surfing, sailing, and sunbathing should keep you busy while visiting the beach. Snorkeling is definitely something you’ll want to check out as the marine life is abundant and beautiful – you may even get a visit from a family of sea turtles! As for relaxing and sunbathing on the beautiful white sand, this beach is truly the beach to kick your feet up and get away from it all. While the beaches in Rio de Janeiro are beautiful and have no shortage in the way of fun, they are very busy. Lopes Mendes beach is a quieter and more serene beach, perfect for those who prefer a vacation away from the hustle and bustle.

If you tire of the beach, the island has plenty of other things to enjoy. Try some delicious fresh seafood at one of the 30 local restaurants. Be sure to try the Brazilian fish stew! Or maybe dancing the Samba in the main square is more your style. You can even do some hiking – Papagaio Peak is only about a 2-3 hour hike to the peak and presents an unforgettable view at the top. You may even run into some rainforest wildlife on the way up!

So remember, if in the Rio de Janeiro area or just vacationing in Brazil, don’t pass up spending a day or two on Lopes Mendes beach!

Caraiva, Bahia Beach – Brazil

These white sands and clear blue waters are home to a small village. Caraiva is quiet, quaint, and peaceful. Come here if you’re looking to get away, prance around freely and comfortably and not be judged by anyone. Don’t forget to check out the Quadrado, which is the main square lined with colorful houses and a little white church overlooking the ocean.

Trancoso is one area of Bahia, and is most famous for its white, serene beaches. Most of the beaches are protected by reefs and form natural swimming pools at low tide. Some of the best beaches in the area are listed here:

Praia do Espelho (Mirror Beach)

This is the most famous beach of Trancoso. It has powder white sand beaches and natural warm swimming pools created by reefs at low tide. Praia do Espelho is located about a half an hour from Trancoso, following a winding dirt roat that is only accessible during sunny dry weather.

Praia dos Coqueiros (Palmtree Beach)

Praia dos Coqueiros is a small beach with medium waves. There are more than a hundred palm trees lining this beach, which explains why it got the nickname.

Praia da Pedra Grande (Big Rock Beach)

About a kilometer away from Praia Coqueiros, this beach is narrow and smaller than the others mentioned. It doesn’t draw many tourists, so if you’re looking for quiet time and privacy head this way. Although quiet, you will find restaurants, beachbars and some beach hotels along the coast. This is the last beach in this sequence where you’ll find these amenities. As you cruise down further the beaches get more remote and don’t have anything to purchase, so you’ll have to take along your own snacks and drinks for the day. If you’re looking to bathe topless, head down further.

Praia dos Nativos (Local beach)

Praias dos Nativos is perhaps the most famous beache of Trancoso. It’s hip and busy, and you’ll find the most hotels, beachbars, and restaurants here.

Arpoador, Rio de Janeiro

Arpoador Beach, Rio de Janerio

Arpoador Beach takes over 800 meters of coastline that includes the infamous areas of Ipanema and Leblon beaches. The beach is peaceful, although sometimes crowded. People love to jump off of the rocks on the coastline into the ocean. The Arpoador Stone in Rio de Janeiro is a rock formation that peaks out high above the Atlantic ocean. The rock is as large as a football field and marks the border of the Ipanema – Arpoador coastline. Waves on the beach can be large, and surfers often ride them.

To the left of Arpoador’s Rock is Do Diabo beach (Devil’s beach). Even though it’s small in size, it has it’s own beach. The waves are this end, and very good for surfing.

Praia do Diabo beach is another beach on the coastline, set between the coastlines of Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. You can enter this beach through a small path in a green park. You’ll find some street vendors here to purchase small snacks and frozen coconut water.

Praia do Toque, Alagoas

Praia do Toque, Alagoas

Praia do Toque is just one of many beautiful beaches along the endless sandy Alagoas coastline, named Costa dos Corais (Coral Coast) after the enormous coral reef just off the coast’s shore.

The 20km ecological route where Praia do Toque is located is the only part of Brazil where the main north-south highway BR101 goes inland, leaving the coastal road and local communities in tact just as they were 50 years ago. The weather in this region is usually warm and sunny, with refreshing breezes throughout the day. If you’re planning on being a beach bum, I would recommend not going in June because that’s when you might catch the most rain.
The town full of handcrafted treasures, you can find wood carvings of all kinds and other hand-made arts and crafts. The waters are warm, the sand is white, and there are plenty of sealife if you’re into snorkeling. The natural pools are warm and still and perfect for swimming. Walk the coastline, or take a boat trip. Or you can stay put and enjoy the beautiful stretch of white sand and the quaint and cute pousadas, most of which are right on the beach and offer half board rates. Food is fresh and good, and prices are fair.

Where to stay: Pousada do Toque, the region’s pioneers. Pousada do Caju is also good, and cheaper.

Fernando de Noronha

Fernando de Noronha

An absolute beautiful paradise, just off the north-east coast of Brazil is Fernando de Noronha. Finding a white sand beach is an easy task on the small volcanic island, but visiting three specific ones is essential: Praia do Sancho, which is a hidden secret, reached through a crack in a rock wall; Baía dos Porcos (Pig’s Bay), a veranda of white sand and aqua beauty and great for swimming; and Atalaia, a natural saltwater pool with abundant sea life like sea turtles and dolphins. All have crystal waters, and because tourist traffic to the islands are strictly monitored by the government, sea turtles, octopuses, a variety of rainbow colored fish, and even sharks are easy to spot. But don’t worry about the sharks too much, the food chain is well preserved here and the sharks are far less dangerous than they are elsewhere.

The diving here is well know. But if your sole purpose of going is for diving, I think you’re better suited going to Honduras, Cayman Islands or Cozumel. Those places better suited for divers and more affordable. But if your looking for a beautiful white sand paradise to dig your toes in, a romantic trip with your other half, honeymooning, or looking for a remote piece of paradise, this definitely the place for you.

Alter do Chao, Pará

Alter do Chao, Pará

Alter do Chão is a village town in the state of Pará, Brazil, only a short drive (45 minutes) from the Amazon port City of Santerem. Brazilian locals have vacationed here for many years, and more recently this beach town has been increasing in popularity amongst international tourists making trips along the Amazon River. Alter do Chaõ is no where as crowded as the beaches of Rio, but catch it soon because someday it may be.

The small beach village is located on the Tapajós river and next to Lago Verde. On the other side of the village, and between two calm bodies of water there is a sand bank, as seen in the photo above.  As the Amazon recedes in the Summer, tourists flock the sand bars and create a party on the beach. Alter do Chaõ is Brazil’s competition to the Caribbean, and the most picturesque scene, almost straight from a painting, nestled between the Amazon rainforest.

The local village has great fresh sea food! After a long day on the beach, treat yourself to fresh caught fish and some island drinks. Then mosey on over to one of the village’s pousadas (hotels) after and enjoy the rest of the night. It’s no surprise that people call the humid dense Amazon the “Green Inferno.” The warm winds, sexy surroundings and beautiful people will make you want to stay in this golden white sand paradise forever.

Where to stay: Pousada Tupaiulandia (+55 93 3527 1157, no website) is not very expensive and pretty quaint, like all places in Alter do Chao, but has a lot of character, and is really all that you need to relax and unwind.