After our brief stint away from the normal beach destinations, we continued our journey to visit another beach on Tripadvisor’s Best Beaches in Brazil. We took a bus south from Salvador to a town called Valenca. From there, we took a slow ferry to the island of Morro de Sao Paulo. Though our guide book said it would be cheaper to do it this way, it is far slower and does not save you a lot of money. It is much better to take the direct ferry from Salvador to the island. Unfortunately, we had to figure this out the hard way.
Morro de Sao Paulo is a cute, little town, on an island south of Salvador da Bahia, where you can enjoy the warm waters of northern Brazil in a nearly waveless ocean. There is really only one street and 5 beaches, appropriately named First Beach, Second Beach, Third Beach, Fourth Beach, and Fifth Beach. Second Beach (#24 on Tripadvisor’s list) and Fourth (#8) Beach are the best and offer very different feels. Though Fourth Beach holds a higher position, I personally liked Second Beach better.
First Beach closest to the town, but is rather thin, especially at high tide. Yet, despite the size of the beach and the rocks scattered throughout, this is where all the local boys play and learn to surf. There is also a zipline that goes from the lighthouse on the ridge above into the water of First Beach.
Second Beach is close to all the restaurants and there are servers walking around all day that can bring you whatever you would like, including our beloved açai. Perhaps this is where açai officially became implanted in my heart. On top of serving our favorite Brazilian superfruit as a snack, one of the vendors would walk around yelling “Açaaaaa (5 second pause) EE!” very emphatically. We thoroughly enjoyed this vendor’s shtick and in fact, it is the only one we still remember. Because of all the amenities, proximity, fine sand, and warm waveless swimming area, this is the tourist beach and our favorite here.
When you continue down the boardwalk following the water’s edge, you reach Third Beach. Third Beach is not really a beach at all. The tide gets too high here and covers most of the sand. It is still close to the vendors though and nice for an evening stroll.
Fourth Beach is a long stretch of quite beach space with coral in the water. Visit this one if you want to get away from the crowds. You can walk around in shin-high water and explore the reef and marine life. Be careful not to step on any of the dark spots since the coral is alive and you can kill it. If you are a runner, Fourth Beach makes an excellent spot to get some miles (or kms) in.
As for the rest of the town, we stayed in a Che Legarto Hostel which proved to be nearly the same price as camping. It was very nice and secure, and they also had many activities every night. In town, souvenirs seemed pretty cheap, despite it being a touristic island. Because of the value, we opted to try a pizza “rodizio” at one of the restaurants on the way to the beach. A rodizio is the Brazilian word for all-you-can-eat buffet where the waiters walk around serving you as much food as you want. In this case, every kind of pizza you can imagine: shrimp (camarao), ham, hawaiian, veggie, garlic (alho), and even dessert pizza like chocolate and banana. While I am on the subject, another popular food option in Brazil is what they call “por kilo,” which essentially means you pay by weight. We also tried the famous Bahian street food, aracaje. This is a dense, fried manioc cake, topped with shrimp paste and whole shrimps and spicy oils. To go along with your street food, why not a street drink? Vendors line the boardwalk along Second beach at night making a number of delicious drinks at a good price. We would recommend pointing to one of the many fruits on a cart and asking for a caipiroska.