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Dende Coast Travel Guide

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Located between the mouth of Jaguaripe River and Camamu Bay, the Dendê Coast is a true mosaic of beaches, bays, mangroves, rocky walls, sand banks, springs, lagoons, rivers, waterfalls and estuaries. Its 115 km of seashore comprehend Valença, Morro de São Paulo, Boipeba, Igrapiúna, Cairu, Camamu, Taperoá, Nilo Peçanha, Ituberá and Maraú.

The untouched beaches of limpid and warm waters, with different formations of coral reefs and framed by vast coconut groves, are among the best in the country. The fluvial archipelago of Una River shelters a variety of paradisiacal islands - Tinharé, Boipeba, Cairu.

Map of Camumu bay and Barra Grande

The dazzling Camamu Bay opens up in ten unexplored islands with primitive vegetation and coconut trees. The endless mangroves work as a nursery for many kinds of fish, crabs, shrimps and oysters. An extensive counter coast of placid waters is ideal for sailing, diving and fishing.

Veja o mapa da Costa do Dendê

The impressive waterfalls are the right location for extreme sports. Environmental Protection Areas preserve a rich fauna and flora.

The abundance of dendê trees, spice that gives a peculiar flavor to Bahia’s cuisine, gives the final touch to the local scenery. In this paradise of great ecological diversity, nature divides the landscape with a rich historical heritage of Colonial Brazil.

The primitive settlements preserve their traditional cultural characteristics.

Regiões Turísticas da Bahia

MORRO DE SÃO PAULO

Morro de São Paulo is the most popular destination on the dende palm-fringed coastline, called the Costa do Dende, that stretches from Valenҫa to Itacaré. Some 248 kilometers (154 miles) from Salvador, Morro is on the island of Ilha de Tinharé, which, along with 22 other islands, makes up Cairu, Brazil's only archjpelago-based municipality.

Rainforest, lowlands, dunes, mangrove, swamps, and beautiful beaches with reefs and crystal clear pools compose the scenary. Founded in the 16th century as a sleepy fishing village, Morro is now a much livelier spot, rustic yet sophistica ted, a study in contrasts.

Its car-free streets are filled with sophisticated stores, bars and restaurants tucked in among food and craft stalls, and a mix of young travelers search for everything from wild nightlife to some rest and relaxation at the quieter guesthouses on Quarta Praia.

There are no streets, just alleys, only some four-wheel drives and tractors are used to access the more remote locations.

Main access to Tinharé and Morro is via Valenҫa, a colonial town on the banks of the Una River. You can leave your car at the port in a rented space (keep your keys with you), then hop in a boat for the one-and-a-half-hour crossing.

Boats also make the two-hour trip directly from Salvador's Mercado Modelo (several companies operate here). Two air-taxi companies, Addey Taxi-Aereo and Aero Star
Taxi-Aereo, make the trip in just 30 minutes.

ZAMBIAPUNGA AND CARETAS FESTIVALS

In Nilo Peҫanha, 30 kilometers (I8 miles) from Valenҫa, in the early hours of November 1st (All Saints' Day), masked men dressed in colorful costumes dance in the streets and play drums, cuícas (friction drums), and even tools such as hoes.

This is zambianpunga, a folk festival brought to Bahia by slaves from Africa in the 18th century.

A similar celebration takes place in Cairu on October 8th and 9th, and is called carefas. Both festivities begin with a firework display at 5am.

THE TOURIST DISTRICT

The steep street up from the docks takes visitors to the Portaló, a 16th century stone archway leading directly to the Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Luz church (built 1855) and Praҫa Aureliano de Lima square.

The square sits on Rua Caminho da Praia, the main access road to the beach and the center of town (with stores, restaurants, guesthouses and tour agencies).

Nearby Rua Fonte Grande (named for the fountain built in 1746 to collect water for early settlers) leads to the quiet village of Gamboa, the deserted, calm Praia da Ponta da Pedra beach, and steps up to Campo da Mangaba, which offers a lovely view of Segunda and Terceira beaches.

The main means of transport in town are tractors and modified trucks called jardineiras Porters can help with baggage, but it's best to agree on a price in advance.

MORRO LIGHTHOUSE AND TAPIRANDU FORT

On the hill topped by the Farol do Morro de São Paulo lighthouse, you can also see the Fortaleza do Tapirandu, a fort now in ruins. Built in 1630 by Portuguese colonists, the fortified walls were added in 1728 and extend out for 678 meters (2,225 feet).

The lighthouse itself dates from 1835. To reach it, fo llow the path that begins beside Nossa Senhora da Luz church. The ten minute trip up the hill is well worth it for the breathtaking view of the coast and crystalline waters, in picturesque contrast to the ruins and old buildings of town.

BOAT TRIPS

One option for exploring the area around MORRO is a boat day trip around Tinharé Island. Boats leave from Segunda Praia and head for the natural pools in Garupuá village, all great for diving. Next up is Ilha de Boipeba.

More rustic and primitive, this island has trees, mangrove swamps and beaches with pristine blue water that can be also admired from the trails on foot or horseback.

Next stop is at Praia de Moreré, with its wide diversity of marine wildlife. Then comes Praia Boca da Barra. A stop here usually lasts three hours - plenty of time to enjoy the calm waters, afoxé and reggae music, and snacks from the barracas. It's a quick walk to the crystal-clear waters of Tassimirim from here as well.

From Boipeba, the tour heads down the Rio do Inferno to the town of Cairu and its baroque- style
Convento de Santo Antonio), built in 1654 using Portuguese tiles. Note that swimwear is not allowed in the convent. The tour finishes at the Cairu River Estuary before returning to MORRO de São Paulo in the late afternoon.

NIGHTLIFE

The bars and nightclubs in Morro de São Paulo buzz on weekends and during the holiday season.

The fun begins in the small village square and along the narrow streets of Caminho da Praia and Fonte Grande, where visitors and locals gather to discuss the best parties that night, usually somewhere among Segunda Praia's popular bars.

Some visitors don't even make plans, choosing to enjoy the music and fruit cocktails served on the cool, calm beaches all night.

BOIPEBA ISLAND

South of Ilha de Tinharé, the island of Ilha de Boipeba (" flat snake" in the indigenous Tupi-Guarani language) is so rich in natural beauty it is a protected state nature reserve, home to dunes, mangrove swamps, and coastal vegetation (restinga), and ringed by coral reefs.

As in MORRO de São Paulo, there are no cars on the streets.

Unlike its neighbor, however, it remains largely undeveloped, welcoming visitors but never losing sight of its environmental and cultural treasures.

The reeE have plenty of lobsters and seafood, local fishermen serves up fresh appetizers for visitors.

The best route to Boipeba (accessible only by boat or plane) is on the Rio do Inferno by motorboat from Torrinhas, in Cairu; it's a 30 minute trip. Another boat option is to cross from Valenҫa (four hours by boat or one hour by motorboat), or from Morro de São Paulo (two hours by motorboat).

There are also direct flights (35 minutes) from Salvador.

VELHA BOIPEBA

The main village on the island, known as Velha Boipeba , is where most locals live and where visitors get most simple services. Founded in the 16th century, the village is centered on Praҫa de Santo Antonio and its simple Igreja do Divino Espirito Santo, dating from the 17th century.

In early June, the streets come alive with colorful flags, countless food and drink stalls, and forró bands for the Festa do Glorioso Divino Espirito Santo (Holy Spirit festivities), the island 's patron and protector.

THE BEACHES, ON FOOT OR BY BOAT

Boipeba has almost 20 kilometers of beaches, most of them quiet, with calm seas. Coral reefs abound on some stretches, and conditions allow surfing in many places. The most popular beach is Boca da Barra, with plenty of snack and drink kiosks to satisfy visitors from Morro.

A 30 minute walk south brings you to Tassimirim, an extensive beach framed by luxuriant vegetation and coconut groves.

Farther on is deserted Praia de Cueira, with its four kilo meters of coconut groves. Turtles lay their eggs in the Cueira and Tassimirim beaches.

Separated from Cueira by an easily-crossed river is Moreré a small fishing village famous for the shrimp moqueca and plantains served at the Mar e Coco restaurant. The beautiful beach has warn clear water and coral pools forming natural aquariums.

Bainema comes next, where, with luck, visitors can watch dragnet fishing, followed by Ponta dos Castelhanos.

At the extreme south of the island and difficult to reach is Cova da Onҫa, a cove at the mouth of the Rio dos Patos. Walking from Boca da Barra to Ponta dos Castelhanos takes about three and a half hours, though boats can be hired at Boca to make the trip in half the time.

It is also possible to reach Moreré directly from Boca da Barra via all 800 meters trail over the hill that separates the two beaches.

DIVING AND SNORKELING

Protected by a barrier of coral reefs, Tinharé and Boipeba islands are ideal spots for both free and scuba-diving.

On Boipeba, the natural pools at Moreré and Tassimirim are ideal for snorkeling, as is the beach at Ponta dos Castelhanos, where you can go by boat to see Madre de Deus, a colonial-era Spanish shipwreck. In Morro de São Paulo, tour agencies hold "baptism" dives for virgin divers.

There are other points for more experienced divers, such as the coral reefs in Itariba and Itatimirim, at a depth of about 25 meters (82 feet).

MARAÚ PENINSULA AND CAMAMU BAY

Off in an untouched corner of Bahia is the Peninsula de Maraú ("dawn sunlight," a name of indigenous origin) and its islands, beaches facing the open sea and the bay, lagoons, dunes, rivers, and mangrove swamps.

Departures to the area are from Camamu, a town 335 kilometers (208 miles) from Salvador. Boats leave every hour from the port, which also takes in the catches from the fishing conununities scattered throughout the island and islets of Baia de Camamu.

The crossing takes an hour and a half to reach the village of Barra Grande. Bathed in calm, fresh waters which result from the meeting of the sea and the Maraú River, this village of sandy streets has become more and more popular with Brazilian and foreign visitors, who can find good guesthouse and restaurant facilities there.

The land route to Maraú is accessible only to 4X4 vehicles, coming from Itacaré or Ubaitaba, which are 56 and 90 kilometers (35 and 56 miles) respectively from Barra Grande.

TAIPUS DE FORA

This beach is famous for its multihued sea water (courtesy of vivid barrier reefs) and the natural pools teeming with marine life trapped at low tide (also an ideal time for free diving).

The area is home to the beachfront shacks, called barracas, Das Meninas, Do Frances and Do Gaucho. They offer masks and snorkels for hire alongside their selection of seafood dishes. Modified pick-up trucks called jardineiras make regular trips between Barra Grande and Taipus de Fora.

A TRIP AROUND THE PENINSULA

Jardineiras (pick-up trucks) are the best means of transport on the Peninsula de Maraú. Trips can be arranged in Barra Grande, with the route and price fixed on departure.

The most well-traveled itinerary begins at Taipus de Fora and the small Lagoa Azul, where the clear waters reportedly have cosmetic properties. Next is Lagoa e Praia do Cassange, a lagoon and beach with calm, dark waters.

From the top of the nearby Morro da Bela Vista (also known as "Morro do Celular" or Cell phone Hill since it's the only place to pick up a telephone signal), you can see the striking color contrast between the lagoon and the sea waters at Cassange. A big surprise here is Gidésio, storyteller extraordinaire, with his seafood pastéis (fried pasties) and juice of gaiteira, a fruit from the northeastern backlands.

From here you can choose between the seaside villages of Saquaíra or Algodões, or head for Morro do Farol de Taipus, a hill with a panoramic view of the sunset over the peninsula.

CAMAMU BAY

A boat trip around the islands in Baía de Camamu reveals the region's commitment to preserving natural beauty and traditional culture and fishing ways. Setting out from Barra Grande, the first stop is Ilha da Pedra Furada, an island dotted with beaches and mangrove swamps, that has a great view of Ponta do Mutá. The boat yards on the waterfront of Cajaíba are the next stop, and a great place to learn about the fishermen's long tradition of boat building.

Cachoeira de Tremembé, a waterfall with a drop of about 5 meters, appears after a motorboat trip of around one and a half hours.

Notice the peace and quiet in Maraú, with its brightly colored houses, some built in the mid-19th century. The village affords a lovely view of the small port, the market and the estuary. Nearby Ilha do Sapinho is home to Restaurante do Jorge, which serves food cooked in the family kitchen.

The last two stops are Ilha do Goió, with its semi-deserted beaches, and Campinho, a village with an abandoned pier, good for fishing. The return trip to Barra Grande is often illuminated by the setting sun. Whether by boat or motorboat, the trips leave from the ports in Camamu, Jobel (in Saquaira village) or Barra Grande, and the route can be arranged in advance.

CAMAMU AND VALENÇA

The small town of Camamu was once the second largest city in Bahia. Now it is best known as the launching point for trips to nearby Ituberá, which is home to one of the most beautiful waterfalls on the Brazilian coast, the Cachoeira da Pancada Grande.

Visitors can cross the wooden bridge to the 40-meter drop, and follow the 300 steps to the summit.

The waterfall is also a good spot for rappelling and cascading, both of which can be organized through agencies in the town such as Ativa Rafting.

The same group also organizes whitewater rafting trips on the Rio das Almas in the neighboring town of Nilo Peҫanha.

Valenҫa, 30 kilometers from Nilo Peҫanha and the gateway to Morro de São Paulo, is a pleasant town dating from the second half of the 18th century.

Among the old houses and historical buildings is the Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Amparo, a church built in 1757 on top of a hill that overlooks the Una River estuary.

Dende Coast travel Guide and tourism information such as accommodation, festivals, transport, maps, activities and attractions in Bahia, Brazil - Brazil Travel Guide

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