After just a few hours back in Salvador, we were back at it again and off to our next adventure. Today, we were off to Morro de São Paulo (no relation to the city of São Paulo), a collection of beaches on the island of Tinharé off of the Bahia coast. While the most direct route would take 2 hours over the open sea, we opted for the less tumultuous route which would only take another hour longer (and was well worth it). We booked the transportation through an agency that arranged each step of the way, which started with a 6:45am pickup from our hotel. From Salvador’s maritime harbor, we took a 45 minute boat to the town of Itaparica across the Bay of All Saints, which was much smoother and calmer in contrast to the direct route over the open seas. From there, we hopped on a 2 hour bus which followed the coastline to Bom Jardim, where we then embarked on a 12 minute speedboat which took us to the dock at Praia 1 (Beach 1). Morro de Sao Paulo is comprised of a long strip of beaches, aptly named Praia 1 (Beach 1), Praia 2, Praia 3, Praia 4, and Praia do Encanto. Upon arriving at Praia 1, we were greeted by locals with wheelbarrows to tote our luggage up and down the steep, gravelly hills to the shuttle/taxi station in nearby Praia 2. Morro de Sao Paulo was way more spread out than we thought – it took 25 minutes by shuttle to get from Praia 2 to the last beach, Praia do Encanto, where our hotel was located.
After having stayed in a wooden box in the Amazon and numerous budget pousadas (at non-budget prices), the Anima Hotel was a welcome sight. Each room was actually in its own private bungalow, which was the most space we had on this trip. Since it took so long for us to get to the hotel, we decided to relax a bit here with beers from the mini-bar (also a luxury!) in our side-by-side hammocks. Once we finally decided to get our act together and explore, we took off walking along the beach in hopes of seeing all of what the beaches had to offer. Not one but TWO hours later, we finally ended up back at Praia 2. Definitely a longer trek than we thought! And much of it was barely passable, as the tide had rolled in at certain points and forced us to walk over rocky corals and mangroves. Praia do Encanto and Praia 4 were pretty deserted and expansive, while Praia 2 and 3 were the more touristy, commercial beaches. The irony was that we chose to stay somewhere more secluded and quiet on our last full day in Brazil, but of course found ourselves venturing the extra miles to find civilization.
After hanging at the beach for a bit, it was nearly kickoff of the Brazil-Colombia quarterfinal game. We’d noticed earlier when we arrived that the village had set up a large screen in the middle of its plaza with giant speakers for viewing so we walked into town to stake out a spot. It was definitely the place to be for the game, as everyone turned out and stood at the square to watch while local vendors had set up stands to sell beers and make caipirinhas. Unfortunately, whoever set up the system did not do a thorough job as the cable cut out within minutes of the game. There was an audible sigh from the crowd followed by a few minutes of tinkering before the game would get back online, applause, and then…zap. Gone again. We must’ve lost connection about 7 times before the game completely cut out to the chagrin of about 200 Brazilians. Thankfully, every nearby restaurant was televising the game too, so we were able to catch the very end of the game.
We had a plethora of restaurant options for dinner but among all of the touristy spots, it was difficult to differentiate which was actually authentic or good. We were hell-bent on going to a Brazilian steakhouse on our trip but never managed to find one. I’m guessing they must be like finding a PF Chang’s in China (either that or they’re only in the bigger cities). In the end, it was the loungey chairs on the beach at Buddha Bar that struck our eye as a nice spot to enjoy our last dinner although the food itself was just ok. After walking around a bit more and doing some shopping, we hailed a shuttle back to the hotel where we enjoyed a bottle of wine on the house in our room.
HOW WE DID IT:
Booked our to/from transportation through Zulu Tourism
Stayed at Anima Hotel, which although available to book on their own website, we booked through i-escape.com