Dramatic setting – tick. Beautiful beaches – tick. Good Surf – tick. Palm trees, forests, rocky peninsula – tick, tick tick. And where are all these ticks coming from? Itacaré in the state of Bahia, a chilled out surf town paradise a few hours south of Salvador that poets, artists, surfers and hippies like to call home. It is still fairly quiet on the tourist front despite having more than enough restaurants to go around and a lively night life at the weekend but the focus is still very much for locals. It is threatening to become more ‘discovered’ and local boutiques are certainly more at the Rio end of the price scale but for now it is still relatively off-grid with street musicians, artists and craft sellers.
The only X in all of this was for the weather that was still choosing not to play ball and for the first few days we saw the Itacaré from under rain hoods. However, even that didn’t diminish the colour and vibrancy of the place. It is an easily navigable town with a main street that leads up to a town beach front where local teenagers play football no matter the weather.
There is then a street at the bottom of the town that leads to the peninsula of beaches starting with the popular Concha beach with a selection of restaurants followed by Resende that has that rugged deserted island feel with palm trees and deserted surf shacks. Climbing up and over the rocks (or continuing up on the main road) you come to Tiririca, the main surf beach that is pretty popular. There are at least 15 beaches around the peninsula that are worth a visit, one beach with black sand that is pretty dramatic whether the tide is on or out.
Itacaré town does not really wake up until the evening. We managed to find one place open in the main street for breakfast but the rest of the shops did not open until the afternoon or evening. Similarly the restaurants were mostly shut for lunch but all begin to open again at about 6pm. Our first night in Itacaré was a Friday and as we wandered through the town the music got louder and summoned us to the second of the main streets, home to a number of bars, one of which had a bossa nova band with a big audience. We found ourselves a table and set up camp for the evening watching the band but also everyone that got up to dance.
Some people are tone deaf, I’m rhythm deaf. I can’t dance to save my life but when the music starts I can’t help but tap my feet (to the wrong rhythm) and then eventually get up to join in. There were some girls at the next table to us that tried to teach me the steps but I think even they realised that I dance to my own beat…
Other than music there were craft stalls and street artists and even the odd juggler thrown in for good measure. It might be out of the way for European tourists but Itacaré is very much on grid for those living in and around the area, especially when it comes to Friday and Saturday night!