Salvador Central: Beaches
Sprawled across broad equatorial latitudes, stoked and steamed and sensual in the widest sense of the word... limned in cadenced song... its very name born in heat and embers, Brazil is a conundrum wrapped in a smile inside an irony.
Great places to stay in Salvador are HERE...

Salvador Musicians

Salvador's (& Environs') Beautiful Beaches

Important: Most of Salvador's beaches --  and those in other localities in Bahia -- are unattended by lifeguards, and some of Salvador's most beautiful Atlantic beaches can be affected by strong currents, particularly during high tide.  Unless you are an experienced ocean swimmer, stick to beaches protected by reefs and rocks, or stick close to shore!

Salvador is literally surrounded by beaches. They are where people go to relax, cool off, chill, socialize, eat, drink, dance, exercise, surf, and of course swim. They vary from crowded city beaches great for meeting people to tropical idylls up and down the coast.

Porto da Barra

One of the first beaches that most people get to know in Salvador is Porto da Barra. Porto da Barra was, interestingly, the site of Bahia's first European settlement, Vila Velha, or the Old Village. During the 1960's it was a hangout for Tropicalistas Caetano Veloso (who sang of the beach in his song "Qual é Baiana?") and Gilberto Gil and their crowd, and it continues to be very much of a hangout today.

The beach is set within the bay and the water is much calmer than on the oceanside beaches; it's good for swimming. On weekends, especially Sundays, Porto da Barra can get very crowded, and it's a good idea to keep a good eye on your stuff. Sandals, sunglasses, and like items can disappear in an instant, the magicians usually being innocent-enough looking kids playing around in the sand near you.

Moving out, the next beach is Farol da Barra. Farol means a beacon; here "lighthouse" (the word "farol" is derived from "Pharos", the name of the small island of the coast of Alexandria, Egypt, where a great lighthouse, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was built). The end of the beach closest to the lighthouse is rocky, with protected pools making it a good place for kids to safely play in the water. The far end of the beach is usually surfer territory.

Porto da Barra on a Saturday morning.

Farol da Barra and the rocky end of the beach.

Praia de Itapoan

From here the beaches run in a more-or-less solid line up to, oh I don't know, Venezuela probably. But the next important point-of-reference within the context of what I'm laying out here is Itapoan (also spelled Itapuã). Itapoan used to be a village quite apart from Salvador, but it has since been aborbed into the greater Salvador metropolitan area, and you fans of Brazilian music may have heard the place mentioned in the eponymous (and nonpareil) Tarde em Itapoan (Afternoon in Itapoan) by Toquinho and Vinicius de Moraes.

The beach at Itapoan starts at almost right angles to the general lay of the beaches running up the coast, then it rounds a bend and a bit further up is another lighthouse, the Farol de Itapoan. The waters off the first stretch of beach are protected by rocks and reefs and tend to be calm and good for swimming, while the waters on the far side of the lighthouse are strong, unprotected Atlantic surf. A lot of locals surf here but there are powerful currents in the waters off the lighthouse and they are only recommended for strong swimmers who know the area.

But don't let me scare you out of the water; I'm not Peter Benchley. Moving back in the direction we've come from there is the long, lovely, arcing, coconut-palm backed praia (beach) of Piatã ( a very broad beach with hard-packed sand). The waters of Piatã are generally safe in that the slope of the sand into the water is very gentle and the depth of the water accordingly increases very gradually (however, the currents around the rocky area at the beach's far end -- to the left as you face the water --can be strong and dangerous).

Piatã: The barracas are no longer there.
Praia de Piatã

The next beach to the north of Piatã, just around the point at the right side of the photo to the left, is Plakaford. The beach is so called because some years ago there was a big sign along the road there for Ford automobiles, and the Portuguese name for "sign" is placa. (I don't know where the "k" -- now officially banished from Brazilian Portuguese -- came from.) Plakaford is good for families with kids in that the waters are gentle, protected by rocks and reefs. The beach lays between Piatã and Itapoan.

On the other side of Itapoan, immediately to the north, are, in succession, the beaches of Stella Maris and Flamengo. Flamengo in particular is a great beach, beautiful and palm-lined, with varied and interesting barracas*.


* Several years ago Salvador's contemptible then-mayor oversaw the destruction of Salvador's beach barracas, an outrageous abuse of private property and public confidence born in opaque legal maneuvering founded in pique.Well finally the barracas will be back, kind of, in the form of removable tendas (tents) from which beer, soft drinks, and pre-prepared food (?) will be served.

Each new-style barraca will come as something of a kit, with collapsible beach chairs and umbrellas, these limited to ensure that the entire beach will not be overrun with chairs. I guess tables on the beach are a thing of the past, which in my opinion is kind of too bad.

Mangroves along Rio do Inferno

Moving south out of Salvador takes one down to three coastal islands: Tinharé, Cairu, and Boipeba.  Cairu, though verdantly lovely, is surrounded principally by mangrove forests and hence is not a beach island.  Tinharé and Boipeba, on the other hand, are home to extensive palm-lined beaches protected from the strong Atlantic surf by virtue of either their orientation or their offshore structure.  Tinharé's principal community of Morro de São Paulo is generally far better known than that of the island upon which it sits, while the name of Boipeba's principal community is identical to that of the island as a whole (although the village is usually referred to as Velha Boipeba -- "Old Boipeba"; it was founded by Jesuits in 1537).

* Rio do Inferno -- Hell River, photo at right -- is not (for the information of anybody who may be planning to travel along it) a scary place.  Forming the southern boundary of Tinharé and traversed when en route to Boipeba from point-of-embarkation Torrinha (on the island of Cairu), the name was derived from the difficulty of navigating through shifting sandbars where the river (actually a saltwater estuary) gives onto the open sea.

Evening at Velha Boipeba

Busca Vida, to the north of Salvador

Barra Grande, on the peninsula of Maraú, Bahia

Barra Grande: Baía de Camamu

Barraca Mar e Coco (Sea and Coconut), close to Moreré, on the island of Boipeba

Mar e Coco's wonderful moqueca de camarão (shrimp)

Barraca at Moreré
Barraca Mar e Coco

Praia de Moreré: As unlikely as it might seem, when David Byrne was here he heard Psycho Killer booming out of a sound system somewhere!

The island of Maré

Itamoaba, on the island of Maré

Beach at Ribeira
Praia (beach) at Ribeira, with the Igreja (church) de Bonfim in the distance

by writer Ben Paris
The Good, the Bad, & the Beautiful
Apartment Rental Salvador: Alain!

Apartment Rental Salvador: Alain

An American in Brazil
A-Class Service & Communication!
Apartment Rental Salvador: Daniel!

Apartment Rental Salvador: Daniel

A San Francisco Native in Brazil
A-Class Service & Communication!
Home - Salvador Central

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A Tour Guide to
Salvador & Environs

A Tour Guide to Salvador

Salvador, the City

Salvador & Its Spirit

A Short History of
Salvador da Bahia

A Short History of Salvador da Bahia

Carnival in Salvador

Carnival in Salvador

Salvador's Old City: Pelourinho

Salvador's Old City

Salvador's Neighborhoods, Streets,
Praças & Byways

Salvador's Neighborhoods

Blood, Sweat, & Prayers: Salvador Sites
& History

Salvador Sites

Once Upon a Night in Brazil:
A Short History of
Brazilian Music

A History of Brazilian Music

Sweet Fields, Bitter Harvest:
The Music of Bahia

Music of Bahia

About Us

About Us

The Sacred & the Profana: Festas


Food & Eating Out in Salvador

Food in Salvador

Drinking in Salvador

Drinking in Salvador

Salvador's Beach Scene

Salvador's Beaches

Islands in the Bay

Islands in the Bay

What's On in Salvador

What's On in Salvador

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Download GREAT
Brazilian Music

Download Great Brazilian Music

Ubiquitous Deities: Candomblé


Capoeira: Dance Like a Baryshnikov, Hit Like a Kalashnikov


Salvador's Afoxés & Blocos Afros

Salvador's Afoxe's & Blocos Afros

Percussion Classes in Salvador:
Heaviest Hands

Percussion Classes in Salvador

Brazilian Music
Workshops & Tours

Brazilian Music Workshops

Group Lodging in Salvador:
Professional & Student

Group Lodging in Salvador

Learning Portuguese:
Lessons & Classes

Learning Portuguese

Money Matters

Money Matters

Buying Property in Salvador

Buying Property in Salvador

S.O.S. Brazil: Volunteer Work

Volunteer Work

How to Avoid Being
Robbed & Cheated

How to Avoid Being Robbed & Cheated

Off Salvador's Beaten Track

Off Salvador's Beaten Track

How to Get Around:
Buses, Taxis, & Cars

How to Get Around

Black Market: Bahian Bazaar

Black Market

Outside of Salvador

Outside of Salvador

Other Voices

Other Voices

Kindred Spirits &
Fellow Travellers

Kindred Spirits

Fiction from Bahia

Fiction from Bahia

Dental Help in Salvador

Dental Help in Salvador

Current Weather & the Forecast

Current Weather

Apartment Rental Salvador: Alain!

Apartment Rental Salvador: Alain

Apartment Rental Salvador: Daniel!

Apartment Rental Salvador: Daniel

A Seaside Musical Guesthouse!

A Seaside Musical Guesthouse

An English-Owned Hotel!

An English-Owned Hotel

ALL Available Hotels
in Salvador!

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YOU Are Invited!!!

Pardal & João, Salvador Central
Me and João do Boi of the village of São Braz, Bahia
I link to João. João links to...

This is an invitation from me (black hat, right) to a music project built as an escape valve, a way to take music from anywhere to potentially anywhere else on the planet.

Unlike traditional media pipelines, which are either expensive or limited, ours is built on common humanity, on the phenomenon of six degrees of separation. Degrees of separation are links between people, connections forming pathways which extend throughout human society (which is why word-of-mouth is the most powerful form of publicity there is).

We've put an online music codex on the air, mirroring this. To give you a personal example of how it works, I link to a roots samba-de-roda (analogous in Brazil to the delta blues in the United States) group in a fishing village in Brazil. New Orleans writer/journalist Jay Mazza links to me. Trumpter Kermit Ruffins links to Jay. Other people link to Kermit. And other people link to those people. And...

Now there are LOTS of pathways leading to the musicians in that rural fishing village in Brazil. And music which would seldom be heard beyond the village border can be heard by interested people all over the world.

Jay - Salvador Central
Jay Mazza w/ Lionel Batiste
Jay links to me...

The musicodex in and of itself is probably not a mechanism for generating great commercial success, but it IS most definitely a way for news of musicians and their music to penetrate far and widely, outside of usual circles and localities. It is giant steps reducing the wide world to a mom & pop record shop (I'm the pop), wherein musical discoveries can be made and passed on.

Mankind has been making music for at least 50,000 years, and word-of-mouth has been around since humans could talk. Drawing on 21st century technology, we've put them together in a new way...

And you're invited.

Kermit Salvador Central
Kermit Ruffins links to Jay Mazza...

Airto - Salvador CentralBelpa - Salvador CentralBobby - Salvador Central
Airto Moreira - Belpa Mariani - Bobby Sanabria

This could be the start of something big...