After reading up on Brazil and googling a bit, I decided to start my trip in Itacaré, a small fishing town in the region of Bahía on the Brazilian east coast. Since I’m traveling alone, I didn’t feel like starting out in a huge city like Rio or in a slightly dangerous one like Salvador. Also, I really just felt like lying on a beach living the easy life for a while. Turns out, I made the perfect choice!
Itacaré is a small town of around 14 000 residents and usually three days are more than enough to explore what is has to offer if you’re just after the sightseeing, but if you, like me, fall in love with the Brazilian vibes of sun, beaches, surf and the ever so charming locals, then three weeks are more like it.
Map of Itacare
During the first couple of days you can keep busy visiting a couple of the nearby beaches, eat way too much at one of the many self service restaurants, party at “Favela” the local bar, and hang around “Pituba” the touristic main street with arts and crafts from Brazil and South America.
But after seeing one, two beaches, you’ve seen them all right? And you’ve basically seen the town, walking to and from the supermarket twice. And there is practically only one bar. So you could leave after two-three days, but you won’t. Because this place is definitely not about seeing or fulfilling any bucket list, it’s about the easy living and the wonderfully relaxed vibes that come from a small town filled with friendly people, most of whom are surfers.
Itacaré beach front and harbour, more of an arena for different activities and less popular with the tourists
Pituba, the main tourist street. Right: View from the hostel porch down Pituba
Resende and Tiririca, two of the beaches only a 10 min walk from the town centre
You’ll have no problems finding friends here. Both the local and traveling Brazilians are super friendly.
Staying in Itacaré was exactly what I needed. It took me a couple of days getting used to the lack of organisation and efficiency that you’re used to coming from Norway. It could take two or three hours getting a group from the hostel heading to the beach on its way. But after a week those shoulders came further down than they’ve been for a couple of years, and I forgot all about chores and bucket-lists. The only mistake I made was forgetting about the opposite seasons. It’s winter here, through August at least and then springtime until December. It might have been a bit optimistic only packing one hoodie and pair of jeans as it rains almost daily. So if you’re planning a trip during the European summer to South America, bring warm clothes!
WHAT TO DO IN ITACARÉ
A regular day for me here in Itacaré will be as following: Breakfast, surfing, hanging out at a beach looking at the surf, eating/sleeping, having a few drinks (or more). The biggest difference is whether you go to one of the six nearby beaches or manage to organize a trip to one of the other seven. The most productive part of the day is undoubtedly the surfing. I’ve been taking surf lessons with one of the many school offering, trying to learn how to ride one of the many waves you’ll find here. The progress is varying, but I am determined to at least manage surfing on my own before I leave. This might also be why I’m constantly opting out of visiting other places along the Bahían coast to prolong my stay in Itacaré.
Itacaré nightlife: The bars pop up at nightime filled with fresh fruit to accomodate your favourite caiprinha. Mine is without a doubt the cocoa fruit one.
If you like staying active besides surfing, both yoga and capoeira classes are easy to come by, there are even a few gyms here. And if you feel confident, there is always the daily football game on the beach when you’re ready to take on the local sports stars. Just lying around seems to be a trade of the tourists here, ’cause the locals are always running around keeping active, or the guys are at least. But this only seems fitting in a country very obsessed with bodies. There is very little left for the imagination, I have never in my life seen so many butts in one day and I feel distinctly overdressed with my regular bikini bottoms. But that’s only until a random guy walks up, stands behind you, and not even tries to hide that he is looking straight at you and your butt.
THE BRAZILIAN GUYS
You’ve probably heard about the Brazilian guys. The notorious, oh so charming flirts, lovers and cheats. It might be a bit generalising, but it is a very fitting presumption of the guys here in Itacaré. As it’s a small town every new girl pops out of the crowd attracting at least a couple of suitors each night. And they’re not subtle about it. They are most likely NOT trying to get to know you as a friend even though they are surprisingly good at conversation and seem very interested in you “as a person”. They are good at this game of flattering and attention, and this is probably why every bachelor here has a new “gringa” for each week. So be aware girls, and know what you want, because this might not be the place to look for a boyfriend. I mean, you’re leaving anyway so why shouldn’t he move on? Be especially aware of extra cheap surfing lessons that are offered, they might include some attempted kissing.
GO BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE
Though it has an evident tourist industry, this only developed during the early 2000’s and is currently somewhat well balanced with the genuine town life of the locals. I’m suspecting though, that in ten years the tourism part might have become too much. There is already a Subway here, so I’m dreading Starbucks might be next. Go before it’s too late!
There is an on-going joke at the hostel where I’m staying, Che Lagarto, where everyone checking in first book one or two nights, but then end up extending with another two nights and then another two nights, and that’s how we now are a solid group of regulars. We’re just having too much of a good time to even think about leaving. And those who do, always come back!