Fazenda São Francisco
Not in the mood to spend four hours being shaken like a caipirinha, we skipped the drive from Porto Seguro airport to Fazenda São Francisco. As the roads are full of potholes the size of craters and if it rains, you’re stuck (literally), we opted for the skyway and arrived in style by helicopter.
Eying our luggage like it was the Manual Dexterity Challenge on The Krypton Factor, the pilot packed me snugly in the back with three oversize cases, two bags and a token umbrella. While Mr Smith played navigator up front, I fretted over whether or not my haul of kaftans and fashion mags had surpassed the bird’s weight limit. Happily, we took off with no trouble and were off on an exciting 20-minute ride, with heart-stoppingly beautiful sunset views of the dense jungle and vast, nearly iridescent ocean.
The pilot deftly landed us in a mangrove clearing at Fazenda São Francisco. After being greeted with the warmest smiles and chilled coconut water, we were chaperoned by buggy to reception. The lodge is like a little slice of Nantucket in Bahia: dark wood is offset by fresh stripes. Inside is the picture of relaxed beach getaway: overstuffed sofas, open spaces and coffee tables stacked with travel books and copies of Brazilian Vogue. As they took our dinner pre-order and told us the lay of the land, I decided I would have been happy to bed down right there.
Well, that is until we arrived at our bungalow. The picture of palm-shaded splendour, they tick every beach-ready box: high ceilings, exposed wood rafters, minimalist furniture and crisp linens on a king-size bed.
Feeling quite spoiled and emboldened by my new surroundings, I turned to the staff member who’d shown us the room and asked ‘Is the beach private?’
‘Is the earth round?’ came the reply. ‘It’s very secluded here.’
What an understatement. To shake off the journey, Mr Smith and I wandered over to the beach and immediately understood why Fazenda Sao Francisco was built here. There’s nothing but white sand as far as the eye can see. There are no lights other than the bright moon and stars, and no sounds beyond the rolling waves.
One perfectly refreshing skinny dip later, we showered off under a rain-head shower, by the massive sunken tub, and snuggled into fluffy white towels. It was time for dinner. We followed the lantern-lit path to the pool deck, where candle-lit, petal-strewn tables awaited.
We only waited a few moments before the tantalising dishes we’d pre-ordered at reception began to arrive. The menu, by Corumbau-born chef Teco, showcases fresh local seafood along with organic vegetables from the hotel garden. We slurped a gingery pumpkin and shrimp soup, tasted fish with shiitake mushrooms, and finished with tropical desserts made with guava and pineapple.
By the time we were through, two of the other four couples had taken their tables. But aside from courteous nods and low-key introductions, everyone kept à deux. Romance is definitely the focus. Back in our Bungalow, a pot of tea awaited, with late-night chocolates that we nibbled on our private terrace.
Jetlag can be a beautiful thing, every so often. So when we found ourselves up in time to catch the breathtaking sunrise, we were jubilant. Aside from the sand crabs, we had the experience to ourselves. An empty beach can do funny things to a couple. So we worked up a breakfast appetite by diving off each other’s shoulders in the ocean and splashing around, then headed back for breakfast of tropical fruit, coconut granola, warm muffins, cinnamon tapioca balls and omelettes, all washed down with fresh melon juice and lashings of strong Brazilian coffee.
The caffeine gave me a surge of productivity, so I set off from there on a hunt for happily elusive WiFi. Thwarted (I interpreted it as life’s recommendation that I stay unplugged for a bit), I joined Mr Smith in the lagoon-style saltwater swimming pool for races and more splashing. Fresh coconut water was brought to our loungers on the beach by staff that made a point of knowing our names (I tried not to smirk when they referred to Mr Smith as my husband).
As I lazed, I pondered the long list of activities: kayaking, diving, visiting native reservations, hiking, cycling… But we were content to do very little aside from frolicking in the water, taking magic-hour walks along the beach and doing our best to live up to the brochure ideal. In no time, we were back by the water, watching with a heavy heart as the staff waded into the choppy water with our suitcases (and my unused umbrella), all thoughtfully wrapped in plastic for our speedboat ride away from paradise. Bouncing our way from Bahia, we were indeed shaken like caipirinhas as we waved goodbye to intoxicating Fazenda São Francisco do Corumbau.
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Smith extra at Fazenda São Francisco
A kayaking trip for two