Itacaré is a quiet, chilled-out town on the southern end of Brazil's Bahia state coastline. The town attracts a wide variety of travellers and although this is currently the low season, there was no lack of tourists throughout our stay. There are the Brazilian's on family holidays, the travelling surfers here for the much discussed surf breaks and even the frugal backpacker, all just looking for that perfect sleepy town to sit back, relax and chill out in. The calm lagoon style beaches on the northern side of town are suitable for families due to their lack of waves while also being perfect for activities such as paddle boarding; whereas the stunning beaches on the eastern side of town are a backpacker and surfers paradise, with excellent surf beaches a skate bowl and plenty of beach sports happening everyday..... Not to mention the thatched-roof huts selling water, beer, coconuts and variety of other concoctions.
The eastern coast of Itacaré is a breathtaking coastline of beautiful palm tree lined beaches. The towns four main surf beaches are an easy 10 minute walk from town along a cobblestone street that rises to a small peak in between beaches and then drops back downhill as if the next beach is your reward for combating each hill in the stifling heat.
Wade and I were lucky enough to snag a bargain room at a little family run guest house and upon arriving discovered that we had landed an absolute gem to call home for a week. Being that Itacaré is only 5-6 hours south of Salvador (one of the major cities on the coast and also host to multiple World Cup matches), the town booms during weekends when people escape the city for this atmospheric paradise. So when we arrived to our lesser known "pousada" we couldn't be happier with what we found.
The people running the guest house were lovely and every morning we were greeted with a friendly "hello" and a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit, bread rolls, ham and cheese and an awesome home made quiche that I desperately wanted the recipe for however the old Portuguese/English translator didn't quite get my point across when I asked our host!
We spent our first two days exploring the town and hanging out at the lagoon style beaches while also sussing out the many day trips available to travellers in the area. Many of them are available directly from town, either by boat or on foot and then there are multiple other activities such as zip-lining and day trips to other beaches that involve van transport or buses from town.
We chose to do two of these trips during our week stay in Itacaré. The first day trip we did was to take a small boat from Concha Beach on the northern side of town, and after doing a lap of the bay area to check out the lighthouse and see where the ocean and river meet, we headed off up the river past coconut palm lined beaches and rocky points lined with fishermen. It was just the two of us and our guide in the boat which made for a super relaxed and easy going trip. Our guide was always encouraging us to tell him where to stop so he could take a photo of us or slow down to show us an interesting feature here and there.
As we began to slow down and veer towards the mangroves, I was questioning where exactly we were headed because there was no clear path through the maze of trees lining the shore. We slowed to almost a complete stop, when a little gap in the trees appeared, just big enough for two small dinghy's to pass one another and high five on the way!
We ventured down this small creek watching as bright red and blue mud crabs scuttled away at the sound of the purring dinghy motor. Around 30 minutes after leaving Concha Beach, we arrived at our destination where we were greeted by a Cacao Plantation that just happens to be naturally blessed with a beautiful private waterfall.
We started by tasting some fresh Cacao, the fruit from which chocolate is made. The sweet, white flesh can be sucked off the individual seeds while the bitter seed is the part that is dried, crushed and mixed with water to create cocoa. Once we'd tried the fruity part, we hit the real stuff - the delicious chocolate that they hand make on the farm. The chocolate has no milk added to it so it is almost the consistency of a brownie or a crumbly biscuit as it is basically just pure cocoa, sugar and cocoa butter.
Our guide led us up the slippery path towards the waterfall, the whole time hanging on to a dodgy looking rope/handrail that looked as if it was only providing false hope to us rather than any actually support! We hopped over rocks and continued up a rocky path until we arrived at our own private waterhole with a three tiered waterfall showering down over us. It was refreshingly cool and other than the yabbies nibbling our toes, it was a really lovely place to visit.
Overall, I think the tour was around 4 hours from start to finish. We went in the middle of the day which was perfect because we were able to escape the hottest part of the day on the beaches by retreating to the much cooler, shady pools of the waterfall. I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone staying in Itacaré because while it isn't anything spectacular, it was a pleasant break from hours in the hot sun and was also nice to just be alone for a few hours away from the action packed beaches.
The second guided tour we did while in Itacaré was a hike/bush walk from the fourth of the town surf beaches, Ribeira Beach to Prainha Beach, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Brazil. We had read that it was necessary to get a guide to do this walk but had trouble figuring out if it was a safety concern (ie. would we get mugged along the track?) or it was because it was difficult in one way or another. As it turns out, the walk is more or less safe during the day, however if you didn't know where you were going, you could be headed in a myriad of directions as there were around 8 different forks that we encountered along the path we took! We asked our guide a few times and he didn't even know where the other fork went!
I won't go into too much detail about the walk itself as I will be writing an informative blog for another website, that goes into more detail about this particular walking track as it is one of the most popular walks in this area. I will also post it here on Following The Sun once it is written.
Basically, the Ribeira to Prainha Beach walk is a stunning combination of rainforest, grassy hills and steep forest tracks with steps made of split coconuts and fallen trees, and it all culminates in a spectacular finish as you spend the last 10 minutes following the coastline down to Prainha Beach. And all of this within a 45 minute walk from your starting point!
Photo: I'd say a view like this is worth the walk..... wouldn't you??
We enjoyed this particular walk so much, that we went back a second time to explore it a little more on our own, it's such a beautiful, natural part of this chilled-out town.
So after extending our stay in Itacaré from the three days we initially anticipated to a total of nine days, I think it is fair to say that this has been one of our favourite weeks so far. With a good combination of chilled out days, bustling nightlife, live capoeira shows and more natural features than you can throw a stick at, it ticked all of our boxes and I can see why so many visitors have ended up staying here forever!
Enthusiastic but Useless Traveler.