Travel

March 6, 2017

Get Lost in Brazil’s Crayola-Coloured Village

It doesn’t get much more magical than Itacaré in Bahia

  • Written by Stuart Brumfitt
  • Photography by Sophie van der Perre

“It’s not easy to get there, but it’s even harder to leave,” says photographer Sophie van der Perre about Itacaré in the Bahia region of Brazil. “It’s a crayola-coloured fishing village of about 10,000 people. It’s like the California of South America, with a cheerful vibe. It’s the kind of spot that could have easily become yet another ‘it’ destination but thanks to a quirk of geography and economics, it just never took off.”

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Van der Perre spent weeks here discovering the 15 beautiful nearby beaches, trekking in jungles, hopping to islands and hanging with local surfers and skaters. Take a journey there through her photos and find out where to stop if you do make it to this piece of paradise.

Stay: Casa do Ben

“It’s a hostel where you can rent a room with your own kitchen and bathroom. It’s got a swimming pool and the owner is a chef from California who cooks dinner for everyone once in a while, and organises trips to the waterfalls. It’s a whole different experience than staying in town where all the other hostels are. It’s about a 10-minute walk from the centre.”

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Try: Acarajé & Acai

“This typical Bahia dish can be found anywhere on the streets. It’s so good and very cheap. Also try Vatapá with fried bean cake. Vatapá is a kind of seafood stew, with ground peanuts, green peppers and, most of all, coconut milk and dendê with some vegetables. Julian’s have the best acai. I miss those…Aqua’s is the best restaurant in town. Great food for the best prices, good wine and it’s owned by two really lovely French guys.”

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Do: Island Hop

“Take a small boat to a little island, which you can see from town. It has a small beach and you can have the best lunch and dinner. It’s so calm with only one bar. The water is really still, so it’s nice to cool down and swim. At the end of the day, the fishermen come and collect their fish from the nets and you can buy it from them and BBQ.”

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Visit: Waterfalls

“Take the boat to the waterfalls and swim in the fresh water, then go through the jungle. On the way there our guide stopped where we could see hundreds of soft shell crabs hidden in the mud. When visiting the waterfalls, you can also visit the cacao farm, which you just have to taste. Make sure you do the hike all the way up, it’s the nicest place to swim and less people are up there.”

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Watch: Surfing & Skating

“You have five beaches around town, all walking distance. The first one is really beautiful with palm trees hanging over the beach, which give you some shade. The second beach has a skate pool, and is the favoured one for the surfers as well. Hang here and watch them skate and surf. The best beach, Engenhoca, is about 20 minutes on the bus, then walk for about half an hour through the jungle. It’s a beautiful, calm beach.”

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