The region around Arraial d’Ajuda is an extraordinary destination for foreign tourists: wonderful landscapes, safe, and with an efficient and affordable public transport system – something absolutely uncommon in the Brazilian context. Making base in Arraial d’Ajuda, you can spend days exploring the area. Here are some suggestions on things to do in and around Arraial.
But first, two important warnings on walks along the beaches:
1. Make sure you make the most of the low tide. When the tide is high, you are forced to walk on soft sand, a tiresome exercise. In some specific spots, the high tide makes it very difficult to continue your path. Look at the following two snapshots of the same beach, one during the high tide (and there was still another hour of high tide to go) and another one during the low tide:
2. The beaches on the region (as well as a sizeable number of beaches along the Northeast coastline) are not ideal for swimming, as there are lots of rocks and reefs near the beach. Rocks and reefs are hidden during the high tide and can cause an accident if you are not extra careful (special attention as there are sea urchins aplenty).
TRIPS (see map at the bottom of the entry):
– walk from Arraial to the ponta do Apagafogo. From Arraial, go down to the beach following the main road (estrada do Mucugê). Once you get to the Mucugê beach, turn left (north). A pleasant walk that can be completed in less than two hours will take you through the beaches of Pescadores, Araçaípe and Apagafogo to the point where the Arraial d’Ajuda Eco Resort is located, right next to Porto Seguro. To return, find your way to the main road and take a bus back. There are few bars at the beaches. Pictures of the beaches you will walk cross:
– walk from Arraial to the Taípe beach. The beginning of the walk is identical to the previous one. Go down to the Mucugê beach but this time turn right (south). You will walk along the Parracho beach, where natural pools are formed during the low tide. After half an hour, you will reach Pitinga beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in the region. There are several bars there where you can eat or have a drink. As the shore turns right, a beautiful scenery unfolds before your eyes: the cliffs of Taípe beach. From Pitinga to Taípe there’s an hour’s walk right under the cliffs. To go back to Arraial, you can hop in a van near Pitinga beach. Pictures of the beaches (the two photos illustrating the high and low tides above were taken at the Parracho beach):
– Trancoso. Do not bother buying and organized trip (a real rip-off), this is a visit you can do on your own for next to nothing. There is a bus from Arraial to Trancoso every 30 minutes (it leaves from the square with the church). Each way cost R$4 and the trip lasts approximately 40 minutes. Do find out when you get to Trancoso at what time it leaves the last bus back to Arraial. If you can afford it, stay at least the one night in Trancoso. The Quadrado, the quaint and picturesque square of the village, comes to life after dawn. There is no public lighting and the lights from the shops and the candles from the restaurants give the place a very magic feeling.
– walk to the beaches in Trancoso. Go down the beach following the path that leaves from the Quadrado (right-hand side of the church). When you get to the bottom, you will walk along a wooden path that crosses a mangrove swamp on the way to the beach. Once you reach the beach you have two options: turn right (south) to visit the delightful Coqueiros beach, or turn left (north) to visit the Nativos beach (to go there you will have to cross a river, either swimming or on a boat). A short walk to both beaches. A picture of Coqueiros and Nativos:
– trip to Espelho beach. This is the only trip where you will probably require the services of a third party (ie, travel agent), as the beach is not served by public transportation (the two daily buses going to Caraíva stop quite far away from the beach). Best option is to join an organized trip from Arraial. Don’t worry, you will be taken to the beach and left there on your own for most of the day. Be careful, the road from Trancoso to Espelho is a dirt track in terrible conditions. I would think it twice before entering it with a rented car, if you are careful drivers you will have a hard time. Someone said some time ago that Espelho beach was one of the most wonderful beaches in Brazil, and ever since then the industry has been repeating the same old story as a mantra. I was disappointed. It could well be that I went there on a grey and cloudy day, when the emerald green of the waters is nowhere to be seen. It could well be that the outrageous prices (daylight robbery) practiced at the bars pissed me off. Everything at Espelho costs much more than at Trancoso, which in itself is an expensive place. There is no other justification for the prices at Espelho than the elitist claims of those well-off that have set base at the beach. Take a sandwich and a drink. There are bars that charge a minumum of R$25 no matter what you drink at them! Pictures of Espelho:
– trip to Caraíva. If you can, go and sleep at Caraíva. There are two daily buses from Arraial, one leaves early (around 7.30, confirm the times, please) the other one at around 4 pm. If you want to visit Caraíva on a day trip, you will have to hire a car or join an organized trip. During the high season the cost of the trip is R$85 per person (during the low season we did it for R$50). You will be taken to Caraíva on a 4-wheel drive in under two hours. You get to spend the day there. The dirt track all the way to Caraíva is atrocious. Do not even think of driving your rented car there, especially if it has rained during the previous days. View of Caraíva and the meeting of the river and the Ocean:
– trip to Porto Seguro. I wouldn’t stay even a day in Porto Seguro, but I feel it’s worth visiting the historic part of the city. From Arraial, take the bus (R$1,30) to the balsa (ferryboat). From Arraial to Porto Seguro you won’t pay anything. On the way back you will pay for the return ticket (R$5). During the day, there is a boat every few minutes. Once in Porto Seguro, it’s a 40-minute walk up to the historic part of the city.
Here is a basic map with the main beaches from Porto Seguro to Caraíva:
Round-up of entries on Arraial 2007
Category: Destination: Bahia