While staying in Salvador, I was fortunate enough to have a chance to explore some of the outlying areas on a couple day trips. I highly recommend doing this, especially if you are a beach lover. I had originally planned to go to Morro de São Paulo, but on the day I was supposed to leave it was pouring down rain and the high winds meant that the boat ride out there was going to be rough. Instead, I opted to stay in Salvador, but was able to see the following places on a couple day-trips organized through a local friend.
Praia do Forte
Praia do Forte is a pleasant, upscale beach town to the northeast of Salvador. Leading to the beach, is a promenade full of well-kept shops and restaurants. At the beach is a tiny church, lighthouse and a sea turtle sanctuary run by Projeto TAMAR with interpretive exhibits.
Diogo is a tiny village secluded in the sand dunes and palms north of Praia do Forte. One of the main attractions to this sleepy hamlet is the popular restaurant Sombra da Mangueira. The restaurant’s signature dish is the moqueca de camarao (shrimp stew with cheese) served with rice and farofa. Each meal comes with complimentary ice cream of coconut, pineapple or mangaba. Some of the nearby sand dunes and beach are worth exploring, but it happened to be raining the day I visited.
Santo Amaro is worth a short stop if you are in the area to admire its architecture, especially around the main town square. The town was had most of its growth due to the sugar industry and is the hometown of brother-sister singers Caetano Veloso and Maria Betânia. They come back to Santo Amaro annually and perform.
Cachoeira is a town nestled in a verdant river valley, a region known as the Reconcavo. The area prospered under the sugar and tobacco industries in the eighteenth century. I found this city to be enchanting with its colorful historic buildings and churches, some well preserved and others not so much. The abandoned train station is particularly interesting. The riverfront of Cachoeira makes for a pleasant walk. Across the river, you can see the town of Sao Felix nestled on the hillside. Deeper into the town, there is a market where you can buy liqueur made with exotic Bahian fruits. You can definitely spend a few hours exploring and enjoying this amazing historic town. The entire city is considered a national monument by Brazil’s Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional.
São Felix is a town across from the Rio Paraguaçu from Cachoeira, which you can reach by crossing a rickety one land bridge. It is much smaller than Cachoeira, but still has some interesting historic buildings. Like Cachoeira, São Félix owes its growth to the sugar and tobacco industries. Of interest is the old Dannemann cigar warehouse, which now serves as a cultural center.
Ilha da Itaparica
I ended up getting to spend a few hours on a beach in the late afternoon on the Ilha da Itaparica. My friend took me to a quiet beachside boteco, the Bar e Restaurante Iemanja, the Candomble goddess of the ocean. We essentially had the beachfront to ourselves. The owner cooked us some fish and served us beers. You could see the faint outline of the Salvador skyline across the water and the evening had a full moon that shone almost as brightly as the sun. After night fell, we drove to the northern tip of the island and caught a ferry boat back to Salvador.
Have you explored Praia do Forte, Diogo, Cachoeira, Sao Felix, Ilha da Itaparica or any other places on a day-trip from Salvador? Share your experience here.