Nestled between an Atlantic Ocean inlet and swathes of tropical mangrove forest, the Ka Bru Beach Boutique Hotel stands like a manicured mirage among the scenic wilds of Brazil’s Maraú Peninsula. At just six suites, this bijou hideaway feels as exclusive as it is secluded, and with poised-to-please personalised service to match. By day, stroll to golden sandbanks or boat to deserted islands, scuba among rainbow coral or kayak along coiling river. Come evening, market-fresh seafood and kaleidoscopic sunsets await to round off your day in this slice of Brazilian paradise.
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £146.90 (BRL891), including tax at 5 per cent.
Rates include a continental breakfast.
Unfortunately the hotel isn't suited to guests with mobility issues.
At the hotel
Free WiFi, massage huts, free-to-borrow beach bikes and stand-up paddle boards, beach bags, sun hats. In rooms: air-conditioning, minibar, free bottled water, Trussardi bed linens and bed towels, and handmade Ka Bru organic toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
Much as we love being able to dip our toes straight in the water from the Pool Suite, the top-floor suite is the only room with an upper-floor location affording rather special ocean views from its elevated terrace.
The ocean-view swimming pool is open around the clock, so a moonlight dip is always on the cards. The bar is also close enough for waving at waiters to bring you another mango caipirinha.
There’s no separate spa, but you can arrange an oily pummelling either in-room or in the massage hut tucked away in the gardens.
Don’t forget your dancing shoes so you can join the locals for a Samba or two in town.
All of the hotel’s fabulously stylish furniture is either designed by the owner or Carlos Motta, one of Brazil’s leading architects.
If you want to watch the chef at work, you can plump for a kitchen-side table. We prefer the balmy breeze and sea views afforded from a seat on the terrace.
Best to keep it loose and linen-y for those tropical evenings – capoeira trousers would fit the bill.
Don’t let the supremely laidback atmosphere of the Ka Bru Beach Restaurant fool you, there’s some serious culinary talent at work in the kitchen. Dishes draw daily inspiration from whatever is in season, centred around market-fresh produce and seafood pulled from the sea that morning. A pared-down menu keeps the quality high, but the chef is open to suggestions based on whatever ingredients are at hand.
Plump for a stool at the restaurant bar if you want to see how your cocktail is made. To maintain the mystery, flop on a seat wherever you fancy and order from there.
Breakfast runs from 7.30am to 10am, lunch from 1pm to 5pm, and dinner from 7pm to 10pm; drinks are poured till 10pm.
Arrange the night before and breakfast can be served in your room.
The Ka Bru Beach Boutique Hotel is positioned where Camamu Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean in the Brazilian state of Bahia.
Ilhéus Jorge Amado Airport is the closest to the hotel, though only offers domestic connections. It’s around two to three hours by road and transfers are easily arranged through the hotel. Alternatively, you can fly into Salvador International Airport and organise a 45-minute helicopter transfer.
If you’re planning on doing a spot of exploring, rent your own set of wheels at Ilhéus Airport. Be aware many of the roads around here are dirt tracks and rain can be heavy so a four-wheel drive is highly recommended.
Another fabulous way to arrive is via Camamu where you can travel by boat through the bay and lush mangroves and directly to the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
Once you can peel yourself off your lounger, its mixture of río, coastal and forest surroundings, activities at Ka Bru Beach are all about immersing yourself in the glorious outdoors. Most naturally draw you to the water, and the hotel is happy to provide equipment for the likes of paddle-boarding and snorkelling. There’s a long finger of sandy beach and a canoe service to take you there whenever you need it. With its white sand and coral reef, paradisical Taipu de Fora beach is also a particularly swoon-worthy spot for all things aquatic and just a short boat trip around the cape. Always fancied water-skiing around mangroves? You can do that nearby too. And if you’d rather stick to dry land, there’s the option to explore the surroundings on quad bike.
It won’t be a surprise that there isn’t an abundance of dining options close by. However, you can get a very decent bite at Bar da Rô just on the other side of the river. It’s a palm-studded spot right next to the water where you can tuck into grilled lobster with black rice while the sun dips over the horizon. Right on the beach, ocean-facing Restaurante Encontro do Rio also provides a wonderful menu of sizzling seafood. You’ll also find a cluster of colorful restaurants in the centre of the neighboring village Barra Grande, with Restaurante da Zene among the best for authentic Bahia fare.
The only bar you don’t have to cross the river for, Bar da Praia is a charming beach-shack establishment where friendly staff serve chilled beer and cocktails alongside sunsets and live Forró music. You can head into Barra Grande for nights of sultry Brazilian beats, too, where you’ll find plenty of locals swaying and gyrating late into the night. Expect some of the best moves and live bands at Santo Forte Musical Bar.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this bijou hotel on the Maraú Peninsula and unpacked their Havaianas flip-flops and bottle of Cachaça 51, a full account of their Brazilian break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Ka Bru Beach Boutique Hotel in Bahia…
Contemplating how to get to the Ka Bru Beach Boutique Hotel is where the fun starts. You could navigate dirt-track roads up the Maraú Peninsula in your own four-wheel drive. Arrange a speedboat to whisk you through mangroves. Even get choppered in from the nearest airport. Whichever you choose, a blissful sense of remoteness greets you on arrival – as your lack of phone signal will also attest. Clean lines and elegant minimalism provide a cool contrast to the hotel’s lush, sultry surrounds, where palms splay like giant fans across swathes of carpet-like lawn. With never more than a dozen guests in residence, service is tailored to a tee here, and the tranquillity is only interrupted by the occasional splash of pool, clinking of ice or rustling of frond. Golden sandbanks, river sunsets and balmy Atlantic breezes all add to the undeniable magic, from which you’ll certainly be in no hurry over contemplating how to leave.