- Jungle gem
- Hipsters’ hang-out Trancoso
- Hamptons-inspired beach bungalows
- Palm-lined Corumbau sand bar
- Eco cabañas
- Amazing Amazon lagoon
- Rustic Modernism, casual luxury
- Beachside, yet at the heart of village life
- Falls and forests, beaches and big cities
- Coast life
- Out of Africa
A melting pot of African, European and Indian cultures, the state of Bahia, up in the north of Brazil, is as indefinable as its ethnic make-up.
Home to bustling cities – Salvador de Bahia, Ilhéus, Camacari – with a distinctly African vibe, stylish seaside resorts such as Trancoso and Arembepe, and a gorgeous forested interior, it offers everything a visitor to South America could possibly require. And more. If you want to party, the state is hedonism central. Home to capoeira, that leg-spinning, body-whirling dance-cum-martial art, Bahia sparks into life around Carnival time in February. Don’t miss it.
If you go down to the woods – well, the Bahia Coastal Forests – you’re sure of a big surprise. It’s thought that this is the only place on earth in which you can see endangered species such as the maned three-toed sloth and the golden-headed lion tamarin.
- Cabs are abundant and cheap in the big cities and major resorts, but much harder to find in rural areas. Ask your hotel to book them for you.
- Tipping culture
- Add around 10 per cent to restaurant bills, but don’t worry about tipping the barmen who mix your Caipirinhas. Taxi drivers and hotel staff appreciate a gratuity.
- Siesta and fiesta
- Most shops close around 7pm, and things can get pretty quiet in the countryside. In the cities and resorts, however, it’s a different matter. Steel yourself for some late-night revelry, especially around Carnival time.
- Packing tips
- Sarongs and snorkels for the beaches; dark glasses and dancing shoes for the cities.
- Recommended reads
- Almost all of the great Brazilian writer Jorge Amado’s novels are set in Bahia – we recommend Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon.
- Traditionally home to huge sugar plantations, Bahia formed the centre of Brazil’s slave trade. The food of the region reflects the African origins of much of its population, so expect to eat lots of chicken, mutton, goat and fish, cooked in coconut milk and palm oil.
- The Brazilian real (plural: reais).
- Time zone
- GMT -4 hours.
- Dialling codes
- Country code for Brazil: 55. Salvador: 71; other areas of Bahia: 73, 74, 75 and 77.
- Do go/don't go
- There’s never really a bad time to go to Bahia as temperatures are high all year round. The summer months of December to February are probably the most fun, as Bahians build up to the big Carnival celebrations; though winter is lovely and sedate, and you won’t have to jostle for space on the beaches.
Don't go home without...
Trying your hand (and feet) at Capoeira, the energetic, body-throwing dance-cum-martial art that has spread from Bahia to countries all over the world. Take a couple of classes with Mestre Dinho (+55 (0)71 321 3366) at his dance school on Ladeira de Santana, just five minutes from the trendy Pelourinho quarter.