"Boss, I'm calling you from Itacaré... Got a flat tire...I won't be back for another 2 months!"

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South America » Brazil » Bahia » Itacaré
May 25th 2014
Published: September 8th 2014
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south of Itacare
Itacare is THE place to be in Bahia! If you ever make it to Salvador, make sure you hop on a bus southwards to this mellow and youthful heaven somewhere in-between wide stretches of virgin Atlantic rainforest and the picturesque beaches. Or just like us, get a bicycle and start pedaling! It’s only 400km from Salvador! The beaches are out of this world with white sand and clear blue water. They are all sheltered and protected by the forest so they’re like hidden treasures. People in Itacare are cool and patient, and they smile all the time! Sunsets are spectacular over the northern bay. Food is good. You can surf, snorkel, play beach soccer or lie on fine sand all day long… Even the women are pretty in Itacare! Just listen to the name: Itacare and roll the ‘r’! It doesn’t get better than this!

We arrived in town desperate for a shower, a laundromat and a bed. We had been camping since we left Salvador (6 nights in the tent) and we needed a good scrub and some shampoo! We agreed to stay in a dorm for R$25/person (around 11 US dollars). There was nobody else staying at Albergue O Pharol and since it was winter time in Brazil, we weren’t too worried about having to share the room. We had our own private bathroom (felt so great!), a big balcony to hang out and have breakfast in the morning, and access to an outdoor kitchen (but we splurged on the local restaurants and bakeries instead!). And the location of O Pharol is just perfect: it’s situated right on a shady plaza (where artists and craftsmen gather at night). From there the left street leads to the touristy part of town with all the restaurants and juice bars, and to the right if we walked 200meters we’d reach the more authentic side of town with the old Portuguese buildings, the cheaper restaurants (and tastier food of course!): the part where the locals live. Did I mention we were also less than 100 meters from the beach? What a life!

The Lonely Planet (Don’t make a face, it’s a useful guidebook even if many travelers pretend to dislike it!) clearly says that Itacare is beautiful and that the beaches are “idyllic, paradise-like, picturesque…” but since they tend to say the same thing for every single spot in Bahia, and since we were a bit tired when reached town, we didn’t expect much from Itacare…We had seen so many gorgeous beaches already (north of Salvador, in Morro, in Boipeba, at Barra Grande…) on our way south, we couldn’t possibly expect things to get any better. But OMG! After a relaxing afternoon on the beach in the center of town (Praia da Concha), a memorable sunset shared with a lot of people (both locals and tourists), and a good night of sleep (in a bed!) we got up rather early and started walking on a muddy trail (again!) in the forest. We weren’t sure of the direction. We followed a clear river upstream when suddenly a group of young people with surfboards on their shoulders passed us. They were also going to “idyllic Prainha”… The trail quickly reached high cliffs and the view over the blue ocean was stunning. We even saw turtles swimming by the reef! Blue sky, coconut trees, green patches of grass underneath… My Dad and I both thought this would be a perfect place to camp! Next time, then! And then we reached the beach and it was crazy! The sand was so white; the water was so clear and blue, turquoise… it was like a long cove sheltered by mountains covered with palm trees, with a few surfers enjoying the waves and sexy girls running around!... Seriously! Pfff! Welcome to paradise! We both laughed and went for a swim. The sun felt hot but the ocean breeze felt good. It was perfection!

Up in the hill above the beach we could see a couple of fancy houses. Someone told me President Sarkozy had one somewhere around Itacare… Don’t know if it’s true but I sure understand why he’d want to come on holidays here again.

Back in town we found a small eatery where an old woman made a mean chicken! Of course it was served with rice, beans and spaghettis and cold beer! It was delicious and the entire town had this tranquil, laid-back vibe. Everyone smiled. Nobody rushed. Lots of people would sit down under a tree, or at a terrace and chat, play chess or watch people go by… My Dad bought a pair of flip-flops (Havaianas of course!) and I knew he really felt on holidays in Itacare!

The next day we decided to ride to “the paradise-like Engenhoca, Havaizinho and Itacarezinho beaches” located 12km south of town. It was a nice ride. There are very few cars on the BA-001, especially in the morning, and then we branched off to an unpaved road for a couple of kilometers and there were a few houses and then nothing else but forests. We arrived at Jeribucacu beach (recommended by our hotel) around 8am and we had the entire golden-sand beach to ourselves until 11. It was low tide when we got there and the beach looked so wide, with soft, fine sand and warm water. We’d swim, do a few push-ups, then fall asleep right there on the sand, and then do it again! Around midday when a few people arrived at our beach, we went farther down and realized the entire coast was pristine. Later on, we got back on our bikes and went a few kilometers up the road (up-hills!) to check out other surfing spots.

What I enjoyed most was that we had to walk through the forest first in order to reach the beach. It felt like we had to earn it and that it was not given to everybody to do so. At Engenhoca
Favelas in ItacareFavelas in ItacareFavelas in Itacare

at the entrance of town
the sand was much darker but the water was still blue, and palm trees were so close to the shore; the entire place looked like a secret garden. We reached Havaizinho and Gamboa beach an hour before sunset. People were on their way out and only a couple of fishermen were around. We felt so privileged to be there (when most people we know were working! ;-) We walked even farther and got the best viewpoint over the coastline. It looked like we’d be riding along fantastically beautiful beaches all the way to Ilheus the next day… That is if we decided to leave Itacare!

For the rest of the trip (a month and a half) we compared every single beach we saw in Brazil to those of Itacare. And you can’t imagine how many times my Dad actually said “it’s nice… but it’s not Itacare!” This became an inside joke and we started saying it all the time. I can promise you that everyone we talked to in Brazil found out how much my Dad loved this place!

ITACARE (even the name sounds amazing!): WE’LL BE BACK!

Itacare!! C’est LA destination a Bahia! Le littoral de Bahia est magnifique mais les plages secretes autour d’Itacare appartiennent a un autre monde. C’est une petit coin de paradis entre la foret vierge et la mer turquoise. Nous y sommes restes 3 journees mais quand on y reviendra (ce n’est qu’une question de temps!) nul doute qu’on y sejournera toute une semaine! Itacare, c’etait notre cerise sur le gateau bresilien! Et les Bresiliens aiment les gros gateaux! Nous aussi!

1. La Guesthouse: comfort, douche, lessive, balcon… et moustiques!

Nous venions de passer les dernieres 6 nuits sous la tente, en camping sauvage, et nous avions effectivement grand besoin d’une douche et de shampoing! Et d’une machine a laver! On s’est installe dans une jolie guesthouse au coeur de la ville, a 2 pas de la plage. En periode creuse (hiver) il n’y avait personne a l’auberge de jeunesse et nous avon pu beneficier de prix tout doux: 6 dollars par personne en dortoire (mais le dortoire etait entierement a nous = grande chambre pour 4 personnes, salle de bain privee, grand balcon pour etendre notre linge et dejeuner au soleil et acces a une cuisine commune). Vu les prix en hiver, papa n’a pas voulu que je cuisine une seule fois. Alors après une lessive et une bonne douche, on s’est fait beau pour visiter Itacare!

2. La ville: sourires, bonne bouffe, touristique ou pas… au choix! Tongues! Coucher de soleil.

Nous avons trouve un petit resto local dans la partie non touristique de la ville, la ou les locaux vivent et travaillent, ou une mamie bresilienne preparait le meilleur poulet et poisson qu’on ait goute a Bahia! Le tout arrose d’une petite biere fraiche… Puis… plage! Nous nous sommes rendus a la plage la plus proche du centre (Praia do Concha) pour notre premier apresmidi a Itacare. L’endroit etait si ensoleille et paisible qu’on s’est endormi en un clin d’oeil (après tous ces kilometres en velo!). Je suis alle marcher un peu le long de la plage et me suis vite rendu compte qu’il n’etai pas possible d’aller tres loin car la plage etait en fait une longue crique, encerclee par la foret d’un cote, la ville et des falaises de pierre de l’autre. Combien d’autres plages comme celle-ci peut il y avoir dans la region?

Apres un jolie coucher de soleil (qui a rassemble plein de monde sur une petite
We're definitely going the right way! We're definitely going the right way! We're definitely going the right way!

What's at the end of this trail?!
butte entre 2 plages), on s’est promene a velo d’abord, puis a pieds. Le centre d’Itacare a ete construit par les Portugais, juste derriere le port. Les batiments sont vieux mais sublimes, avec des grandes fenetres, des colonnes et de jolis balcons. La plupart des maisons sont peintes de couleurs vives et ells ont ete retapees pour accommoder la vie du 21e siècle. Et donc les facades anciennes abritent des salles de muscul, des bars, des supermarches ou des marchands de tongues! En parlant de tongues, papa s’est laisse tente par une paire d’Havaianas: ca sent bon les vacances!

3. Prainha plage: OMG!

Le lendemain matin, nous nous sommes leves tot pour profiter au maximum d’une journee a la mer. Tout le monde nous a recommende d’aller voir la plage de Prainha donc en route… on traverse le village, on marche le long de petites plages tranquilles aux abords de la partie touristique d’Itacare et ensuite il faut suivre un chemin qui s’engouffre dans la foret vierge. Ca monte raide. On suit un cours d’eau qui se transforme en cascade peu après. Les oiseaux chantent, le son de l’eau qui coule sur les rochers reverbere entre les arbres, et le soleil peine a percer la densite du feuillage. Nous sommes seuls a nouveau (qu’est ce que ca fait du bien de ne plus etre en ville –chinoise- pendant ces vacances!). On se perd quand tout a coup un groupe de surfeurs, planche sur l’epaule sort de nulle part et traverse la riviere juste devant nous… On est dans la bonne direction! Nous marchons un petit kilometre et atterissons sur de jolies falaises de pierre grise, avec palmiers et verdure tout autour. Le soleil tappe, la mer est bleue et on apercoit des tortues dans l’ecume en contre bas! Quel spectacle! Nous continuons et nous traversons plusieures etendues tres vertes sous les cocotiers… Papa et moi avons la meme idée: on aurait pu camper ici! J Et soudain on se trouve a LA plage: un longue crique de sable blanc, bordee par un rideau de cocotiers et des collines de foret tropicale; quelques surfeurs au large defiant des vagues blanches qui s’ecrasent sur la mer bleue intense. WOW! On se regarde avec Papa mais nul besoin de mots pour partager ce plaisir: on est au paradis! Je crois que c’est a ce moment precis qu’un groupe de jeunes filles bresiliennes (pas besoin de vous faire un dessin, si?) s’est mis a courir en direction de la mer…Dans ma memoire la scene s’est joue au ralenti… WOW! (como se dice “disfruta la vida en Portugues”?!: ITACARE!) J’ai pris mille photos de Prainha (pas seulement des filles!), sous tous les angles… Que dire d’autre, c’etait parfait! Et on y est reste la journee.

4. Plage le matin… quell regal!

Pour notre 3e journee a Itacare nous nous sommes remis en scelle afin d’aller decouvrir les plages a 12km au sud de la ville. Premiere etape: Jeribucacu (en roulant les r!!). Rien que le nom fait rever! A nouveau il nous fallait traverser la foret, des collines, pour finalement descendre a pic et rejoindre une nouvelle plage de reve! Nos efforts etaient amplement recompenses car en y arrivant a 8h du mat, la plage etait deserte. La mer s’etait retiree laissant dans son sillage une large plage de sable fin et dore. Quel plaisir de se baigner dans l’eau chaude et peu profonde, seuls au monde! Apres la baignade, on a fait les bresiliens avec footing et series de pompes sur la plage… puis petite sieste au soleil, avant de
Pretty cool view, isn't it?Pretty cool view, isn't it?Pretty cool view, isn't it?

Gotta love Itacare!
se jeter a l’eau a nouveau… La vraie vie! Vers midi les premiers touristes (bresiliens) sont arrives et il etait temps pour nous d’aller plus loin. O surprise… de nouvelles plages magnifiques! Je me demande s’il est possible de se fatiguer de cet environement: cocotiers, sable fin, soleil, air pur…

5. Finale de la Champions League

En fin de journee on s’est achete des fruits exotiques et des amuse-bouches pour savourer la finale de la Champions League entre le riche club de Madrid (le Real) et le petit poucet de la meme ville (l’Atletico). En bon Francais romantiques, nous supportions les outsiders… et on y a cru jusqu’a la derniere seconde du match, quand le Real a egalise. Quand meme, quelle honte et quel vol de faire jouer 5 minutes d’arrets de jeu alors que ce sont les joueurs du Real qui ont passé leur temps a faire le cinema et a se rouler par terre en premiere mi-temps! C’est sur que pour l’UEFA, ca a plus de gueule d’avoir le Real recevoir le trophee que les inconnus de l’Atletico… Corruption! On en reparlera pendant la Coupe du Monde et les premiers matches arbitres en faveur du Bresil… ainsi que la decision surprenante de donner la Coupe 2022 au Qatar…

6. Les velos: laves, huiles…

Apres une semaine a rouler dans le sable, la boue et les trous, nos velos (pas chers) avaient besoin d’une revision. On a trouve un jeune marchand de cycles qui nous a demonte, lave et huile la roue libre. Et le tout avec un sourire jusqu’aux oreilles! On lui a raconte notre epopee le long de la cote de Bahia (falo Portugues ahora! ;-) et il nous a dit que la sud d’Itacare etait egalement merveilleux… ca promet!

7. Nous reviendrons!

En conclusion, ce ne fut que du bonheur! Nous sommes tombes amoureux de la region. Itacare, nous reviendrons a n’en point douter!

Additional photos below
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9th September 2014
I'm in Bahia!

Life's tough Jeremy
...but someone's gotta do it...might as well be...
10th September 2014
Prainha beach: oh my eyes!

Better and best
In your last blog, I thought you'd found the most perfect beach--no, finally it's here in Itacare! Really, jungle, beach, warm water and your dad. It doesn't get any better than that, except maybe if Becky were there too. Congratulations on finding a bit of perfection!
23rd February 2015

amazing beaches and ..Jeremy's father
because he can keep up Jeremy ! Another interesting thing i read first time about - showering with the sand.. i heard of soaping up and washing with sea water possible, but sand, must be something desert people do.. Fantastic beaches, really worth visiting, not by bike for me! But from pics i didnt see possibility for snorkeling in Itacare.
2nd March 2015

thank you!
Waves might be too strong to snorkel... but I'm really not sure. I spend more time on the beach than in the water. Yes, my Dad is an animal who likes to push his limits physically.

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