In November, I couldn’t resist my friend’s invitation and flew to Trancoso, in Bahia (Northeast of Brazil).According to her, who had already been there 5 times, it is a magical place, with a good energy, and that combines gastronomy, events, partying, beautiful landscapes and the climate of Bahia. As we are still in a pandemic, there was no party. But the beautiful landscapes would be there at least.
We left São Paulo on a rainy dawn (we woke up at 3:30 in the morning and didn’t even sleep . We were like an anxious child who is going to travel for the first time). After all, it had been 8 months since I had been in an airport. We flew to Porto Seguro, which is the closest airport to Trancoso. We arrived at 9am, had breakfast there (actually, I love having breakfast at the airport even paying 3x more, just because it has the taste of a trip starting) and we took an Uber that would cost 50 reais to Trancoso (the transfer from hotel would cost 200).
Because the Uber driver said he wouldn’t take us there because Uber didn’t raise the fare and it would be more expensive to take us. We understand the driver. One less point for Uber, which has not yet aligned this discrepancy and leaves us unaware as we are at hand.
So for your information: Uber doesn’t take you to Trancoso, unless you pick a new driver who doesn´t know about the distance and taxes to Trancoso, and poor guy, is gonna cost him more to drive us than the Money earned. Don´t do it.
Patience. He dropped us off at the Ferry, which was already heading towards Arraial d Ajuda and costs 5 reais per person, if you are a pedestrian (notice that the car line is long and the amount is higher). The route is pleasant and fast, and as soon as we disembarked, several vans were announced right off the ferry (we think it is safe because they are several and all organized by the same staff), and we took one to Trancoso, for 13 reais per person, which took us to the Quadrado, the famous little square over there, where everything happens. From there it was 200 meters walking to the Pousada where we stayed.
By day, if you are alone or in pairs, I recommend the trip. It is not difficult, there are vans and ferries all the time, and in less than 2 hours you arrive in Trancoso.
On the way back, which was at night, we opted for the transfer that doesn’t take the ferry, but rather a longer way, and we arrived in almost 2 hours too, and it cost us 180 reais negotiated. But from the door of the inn to the airport.
We arrived at the pousada, Mar Azul, and found it a little too simple, more than it appeared on Booking. WELL small room, kind of old. As the days went by I at least thought it was a good cost benefit: good breakfast, simple but with tapioca and freshly scrambled eggs, clean, white bedding and bath, and great shower and bed. And a very short walk from the Quadrado.
Trancoso itself doesn’t have much to explore. It is a small village, where everything revolves around the Quadrado, which is surrounded by colorful and instagramable houses. In the background, a church and beyond, the view of the beach. When we arrived, we were pampered to a day of clear blue skies (and the forecast was rain for the whole week) and you can see all the beaches and the famous cliffs of Trancoso.
From the Quadrado, another 10 to 15 minute walk and you are on the beach. From the lookout, it seems far, but it is not that difficult and long. There, the beach is long and wide and therefore democratic: If you want to make the economic line and made your snack for breakfast at the hotel, there are shady trees for you to extend your sarong. There are restaurants with chairs and even loungers (hard, because Trancoso, like the whole of the Northeast, sells a lot and the furniture is heavy) that do not charge a minimum consumption fee, as long as you have lunch there (don´t be the stupid tourist that drinks just water and stays there on the lounge for 4 hours). We had a good and a bad experience. In one, the food was decent and in the other, drenched in oil.
And finally, there are hotel and seaclubs, such as Espelho D´agua, UXUA, Bahia Bonita and FlyClub, which charge between 100 to 200 reais of minimum consumption per person, but have decent sunbeds and umbrellas. However, the priority is always the guests. In all, the service is very friendly, but as you are in Bahia, be patient. The order takes…. and delay. We did a High Low on the days: in one we stayed in the bar that does not charge a minimum fee and in others we went to these lounges. However, I give the tip: leave it to spend at night, because the food at UXUA is incredible and worth every penny.
The sea in Trancoso is rough, you can even surf. But there are more peaceful places for bathing and the water is clean. However, it is more beautiful seen from the lookout. When you reach the sea, the color of the water is dark, because of the nearby river. In fact, the arrival at the beach is a charm, you pass by a walkway and the mangrove below, full of colorful crabs (but it stinks sometimes).
In the afternoon, there is Always something to do (even in low season). It has a charming coffee inside an open-air shopping center for a decent espresso and delicious sweets (but don’t have lunch there because even in Bahia you will lose your patience), it has local fruit popsicles like mangaba and cajá,there are handicraft, design and fashion shops (nothing cheap).
And at night, it’s fun to get ready and go to the coolest restaurants in the region. The women are super glamorous, with long dresses. Men go in shorts and shirt, a charm. The Quadrado is illuminated only by restaurant lamps, which clutter tables and chairs outdoors, and street vendors selling souvenirs, local chocolat (a very good quality indeed)and jewelry.
We were still in a pandemic, so no ballads and closed places.
But the restaurants were worth it. They are excellent. Cacau, Capim Santo (this one has to schedule), UXUA and Jacaré. They are not cheap, but prices are ok for those coming from São Paulo. Average spending of 100 to 250 reais per person. Super fresh fish, with a modern touch and excellent seasoning.
For Trancoso, I found 5 days too many, because there are no parties yet because of pandemic.3 days is more than good to know the beaches and restaurants, and go through all the shops.
I wouldn’t be going in November either, as we caught 2 days of heavy rain and rough seas. They say it rains a lot at that time. We were lucky to catch 4 days of sunshine, but Praia do Espelho for example was not as beautiful as it is famous due to the rain. September would be a good time, still low season and sun without rain.
Where to stay: I would be close to the Quadrado. Outside it, Trancoso is a normal suburb, without charm. The streets near the Quadrado are quiet, there are still charming shops, and you can walk without drama to the beach.
There are several cool hotels by the sea (such as Espelho D Agua and Bahia Bonita), but that only applies if you really want the dream of waking up seeing the beach. To go to the Quadrado or the restaurants, it is no good. It has no lighting, and although Trancoso is considered very safe (I thought), I would not risk walking alone or in pairs at night.
The average price is between 150 to 300 reais a day with breakfast – in simple inns and 800 to 1500 in luxury inns, in low season. New Year’s Eve then, quintuple this value.
Now an unmissable tour is to go to Praia do Espelho and Caraíva. Next time, I would stay 3 nights in Trancoso, 1 in Praia do Espelho and 2 in Caraíva.
In high season, it is easier to find vans that make the trip there, for 30 reais per person. As we were in low season, we had to find an agency, and there was no way out (usually 90 to 130 reais per person in a shared van). Then we opted for a private transfer that cost us 400 reais but made Praia do Espelho and Caraíva and stayed with us until 8 pm.
Going to Praia do Espelho would be easy if it weren’t for the road. As it rained a lot, it is all holed and I even consider it dangerous for those who do not know. For Caraíva it is even worse. A real Rally. A journey that could easily be done in 30 minutes took almost 2 hours.
Well, arriving at Praia do Espelho, it really is a paradise. A beautiful beach, calm sea, and several inns by the beach. There are also kiosks serving food, drinks and umbrellones. As we went in times of rain, the beach was not so idyllic.
Caraíva is completely different. To get there, you take a small boat (5 reais a stretch), which crosses the river of the same name and drops you off at the village. The beach is not so beautiful, a dense and dark foam, but of natural debris and the encounter with Rio, which is very magical.
Several bars by the river, sunbeds by the sea, inns, restaurants, cafes, shops (with cool things). I found the air of the marijuana class a little too much for my taste, I prefer Boipeba particularly, but for those who enjoy it, it’s there. Certainly in the future I will reserve a few days for Caraíva, because the vibe of the place is really incredible.
But the natural beauty of river with the Sea is really something special. Gorgeous sunsets, people from the super friendly shops, happy dogs and constant breeze. Bahia remains a party, with its beautiful beaches, its delicious foods (but be careful with oil palm) and above all, its wonderful and hospitable people. Not once do I go to Bahia and I get disappointed with the people there. welcoming (really), always with a smile on their face and ready for an uncompromising chat about the walks, the weather, the sea, the food and life.