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Ilheus & Itacare

The Cocoa Coast

Ilhéus, 285 miles south of Salvador, is the gateway to some of the most accessible yet unspoiled beaches in Brazil. Much of this sparkling coastline is backed by thick Atlantic rainforest, magnifying the region's sense of the exotic and the tropical.

Founded as São Jorge dos Ilhéus (Saint George of the Islanders) in 1534, this port gained prominence from the 17th to the 20th centuries through sugar and cocoa exports. Ilheus is now acclaimed as the midpoint in a 125-mile stretch of delicious hideaway beaches. Praia Milionários, four miles south of town, is a fine example. This wide golden strand is flanked by coconut palms and gentle waves. Other nearby beaches are sheltered by mangroves, rocky coves and coral reefs.

Until the completion of the coastal highway in 1989, the town of Itacaré was the embodiment of fishing village isolation. Now, the 45-mile drive north from Ilhéus can be traveled in under an hour. Although the lifestyle is still relaxed and distinctively Bahian, local flavors now blend with hints of the adventurous and the cosmopolitan. Surfers are drawn by consistent waves (April to August) and incognito celebrities arrive seeking anonymity. Visitors can also enjoy whitewater rafting, horseback riding and mountain biking.

South of Ilheus, the BA-001 coastal road reaches the village of Una in about 40 minutes. This is the location of one of our favorite beachfront bungalow resorts. Set amid coconut and dende palms, this boutique hotel features airy floor plans with private, beach-view hammock decks. After a traditional breakfast and morning massage, reenergized guests can practice surfing, visit cocoa plantations or fish for Atlantic Blue Marlin.

Another 35 miles to the south—72 miles from Ilhéus—Canavieiras marks the end of the line and the last word in splendid solitude. Warm, clear waters caress pale sands and dozens of islands. The largest is Ilha de Atalaia, the location of some of the region's finest private oceanfront villas. More than ten miles of beach encircle the island, most with calm waves and shallow waters. Canavieiras can also be reached via twice weekly flights to the Comandatuba airfield. Trancoso is a scenic 136-mile (4.5-hour) drive to the south.

Flights reach Jorge Amado Airport (2.5 miles south of Ilheus) from Salvador in just 45 minutes, avoiding a six-hour drive. Porto Seguro, 190 miles to the south, is a four-hour drive or 40-minute regional flight from Ilhéus . Flights also connect Ilheus with Belo Horizonte (three hours and 45 minutes), Sao Paulo (just over two hours) and Rio de Janeiro's Santos Dumont Airport (one hour and 45 minutes).

This coast is a year-round destination, with average temperatures near 75°F. From October to May, temperatures range from the mid-80s to low 70s. The "cool" months of June to September mark low season, with temperatures 80°F to 65°F. Refreshing ocean breezes and sunny skies can be expected year-round. Precipitation is slightly more common from February to July (between 8.3 and 7.0 inches per month). August to January is generally drier, with averages of 5.4 to 6.7 inches of rainfall per month.

Mosaico Travel Services arranges personalized travel in Brazil and throughout South America. We organize luxury accommodation, private transportation, and tours with expert guides. Speak with a Mosaico travel planner today at 801.582.2100. We’ll take care of the details.

"The world is like that–incomprehensible and full of surprises."

Jorge Amado (Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon)