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Bahia Spotlight: Morro de São Paulo

Morro de São Paulo

Morro de São Paulo is a village in the northern tip of the Tinharé island in Bahia. Reachable only by boat or plane, the village has no paved streets or car traffic. There are, however, lots of hotels, pousadas and restaurants, as well as a few ATMs. The island's beaches are nice and imaginatively named First, Second, Third and Fourth beach.

Morro de São Paulo
Morro de São Paulo

Get in


By plane

Morro has no actual airport but charter flights from Salvador take 20 minutes from Salvador and land on two runways, located respectively on the Third and Fourth Beach. Cost around R$231 from Salvador.

By boat

You can get there from Salvador by catching a ferry or catamaran from the Mercado Modelo,
a 5 min walk from the lower end of the Lacerda Elevator. The catamaran costs R$ 75 (2009) and takes approx 2 hrs.
Morro de São Paulo Sign
Morro de São Paulo Sign
Catamaran leaves from Salvador at 8:30AM, 9AM, 11:30AM. 1:30PM, 2:00PM.
Catarmarans come back from Morro de Sao Paulo at 9:30AM, 11:30AM, 3:PM, 3:30PM.

Get there early and buy your tickets. Since you are travelling on the open ocean, sea sickness pills are advised.

Tickets can be brought at the boat terminal building, at your Pousada, at a number of travel companies that or online.

The seas from Salvador to Morro de Sao Paulo are really choppy and the ride is really tough even for people with strong stomach. Make sure not to eat anything atleast 2 hours before the departure. Also some medicine for motion sickness will come really handy. An easier option is to take a boat from Valença which is both cheap and smooth but takes more time. From Salvador take a bus to Fiera de Santana and from there, you can take a direct bus to valencia. Takes around 4 hours from Salvador to Valencia and from there another 1 hour by ferry to reach Morro. The ferry ticket is R$ 15. Although this takes a bit longer but this will save you from the ordeal of that bumpy ride in the boat from Salvador to Morro.

There is an alternate and cheaper option which costs R$ 30 and takes twice the time as the Catamaran (about 4 hours). From Sao Joaquim in Salvador, take a ferry to the island of Itaparica. From there you can get a bus to Valenca from which there are regular boats that head to Morro de Sao Paulo.

By car

Drivers can reach as near as the neighboring city of Valença, where you can park your car at one of the various Car Parking for as many days as you wish. From Valença you have to take a boat to Morro. You have to go to the local harbour and there you will find boats every hour from 7AM till 6PM . In summer they will run until there are passangers to travel. If you take the "traditional" boat, it will take about 2 hrs but this is a relaxing trip and you have plenty of time to enjoy the sightseeing for only R$5,00. But if you want to get quickly to Morro, you have the "lancha rápida" (fast boat) that will take you for R$12,00 and in 40 minutes you will be there. At the Valença harbour you have to pay a fee of R$0,65 per person and to get in Morro you have to pay a R$10 local tax.

Get around

The best (and only) abundant form of transport on the Island is your feet.
Being an island, there is no vehicular access to Morro de São Paulo. Until recently, tractors for garbage collection, transportation of heavy materials,tours to distant beaches and to and from pousadas on the Fourth Beach were the only motorized vehicles allowed. Today however, although vehicles are not permitted on the beaches and main roads (i.e. Caminho da Praia, Fonte Grande), there are buggy-taxis on the roads that parallel the beaches, through Zimbo, Campo da Mangaba and the Gamboa village.

See

Top of the hill (morro, in Portuguese), there is a lighthouse and a deck where it's possible to see the sunrise and sunset or you can go to the fort, dating from 1630, besides the island main entrance.

Do

  • Beaches - Most beaches in Morro are reachable on foot and great for lounging about in the sun. Many of them, however, can be a little rocky and too shallow to swim. There is a quiet beach behind the hill that is good for swimming.
  • Diving - There are at least 2 dive shops on the islands. Companhia do Mergulho is a good and honest company. The best months to dive are Nov - Mar. Diving is poor during October due to the frequent storms that reduces visibility to 1 meter(3 feet).

Buy

  • Shops line the path from the boat dock past the first beach. There are many clothing stores that sell mostly t-shirts and bathing suits but some also sell skirts and dresses. Be sure to check out the flip-flops. Havaiana and Ipanema flip-flops are very popular. There is also a shop that sells lots of touristy trinkets.


Eat

  • Minha Loca Paixão The restaurant is in the pousada. Great food and reasonable prices.
  • Sambass This restaurant is on 2nd beach. The tables are right on the beach next to the Jamaican restaurant. They have a great atmosphere and good food. Try the red snapper or whatever fresh fish they have that night. Most nights they have live music.
  • O Bacalhau Another restaurant at the second beach with portuguese and brasilian food. You may try one of the various recips of cod cooked the way they do it in Portugal, or, if you prefer a more exotic experience, the lobster or fresh fish on the grill. You may aswell drive on one of the famous "moquecas" - the brazilian stew - that will surprise you with that mix of flavours Brazil can offer you.

Drink

  • At night drink stands open up all over. They are all pretty much the same. They will mix in any fruit you want with Cachaça.

Sleep

Traditionally an ovrepriced spot, there are bargain options on the island. Never follow local touts around, as they will get a commission and ruin your potential discount.
If the room has a mosquito net, use it or consider a citronella candle to avoid bug bites.

Budget

  • Pousada Safira do Morro, Rua caminho da Biquinha, (75) 3652 1683. Very simple but confortable, this B&B is only 100m away from the beach.
  • Pousada e Camping da Dona Amèrica, (From the Praca, walk down Rua da Fonte 200 mts), +55 75 3483 1435. Single, R$ 20. Also camping.
  • Aradhia Pousada, (Just past the 2nd beach). Large rooms for a low price.  
  • Pousada Barrravento, (On 3rd beach), 75 3652-1134. In low season is it possible to get a room for 35 reals/night/person with a hammock. In High Season price might be 75 reals/night.   Some rooms have ensuite bathrooms with fridge. You need to bargain with the owner. Breakfast==coffee, bread, ham, cheese, fruits, scammed eggs, fried bananes--very good.
  • Pousada Morena, First Beach (Beginning of the First Beach). Great location and good price.
  • Perola do Morro, Rua da Biquinha (5 min walk from First Beach). Very close to the beach and with a small swimming pool.
  • Pousada Encanto, First Beach (30 meters from the First Beach). Nice rooms, good breakfast and a excellent sea view.
  • Pousada Aymorés, Fourth Beach (It´s the first hotel on Fourth Beach, right on the beach). The only B&B on the Fourth Beach. Big room, right on the beach.
  • Pousada O Casarão, Main Square (The main square at center of the village). The oldest house on the island is a nice hotel and have a very good restaurant.

Mid Range

  • Vila Guaiamu, Third Beach (Right in front the Third Beach). Very big area with nature and a lot of funny guaiamu crabs!
  • Fazenda Caeira, Third Beach (Right in front the Third Beach). It´s the biggest farm on the island, with very nice room with sea view.
  • Hotel Praia do Encanto, Fourth Beach (Right in front the Fourth Beach). Good rooms, quiet place, nice sea view, good restaurant.

Splurge

  • Vila dos Orixas, Fifth Beach (Their shuttle leaves from behind the Second Beach). The most exclusive hotel of Morro de Sao Paulo
  • Pousada Passárgada, Village (On the beggining of the lighthouse hill, village center). The best view from the sunset, excellent rooms
  • Pousada Charme, Village (On the main street, village center). Very good rooms, close to First and Second Beach.
  • Villa das Pedras, Village (Second Beach, right on the beach). Just imagine some very charming bungalows on the busiest beach of the island. Awesome
  • Patachocas Eco Resort, Fourth Beach (Their shuttle leaves from behind the Second Beach). Biggest resort of the island. Right in front of the Fourth Beach, on a very quiet place.
  • Portalo Hotel, Village (Just in front of the harbor, on Porto de Cima beach). Very charming hotel, just in front of the port, with excellent sea view

Get out

  • Boipeba - the pristine beaches of Boipeba village make a very nice day-trip from Morro. Take the boat, as going by land means uncomfortable travelling in an improvised tractor convoy through a shaky sandy road. Most Pousada and travel agencies will offer a trip from MSP to Boipeda for 65 reals/person. There are two/three main companies that do this trip, but is excatly the same trip, expect different boats depending on the number of people that go. Departures is at the 3rd beach around 9.30AM, and there are snorkelig, trekking and old churches en route. 

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