To us, there’s no better antidote to relieve the stresses of the daily grind than the feeling of sand between your toes and some warm sun kissing your skin. Today we’re finding the perfect spot to do just that in the little-known beach town of Trancoso, Brazil. And it’s all thanks to Courtney Adamo, fellow travel lover and creator of darling family-focused travel site, Somewhere Slower. Time to say goodbye to all those worries, dear ones. Come fly with us, let’s fly, let’s fly away…
Arriving in magical Trancoso, you immediately feel your worries slip away into laid-back, tropical bliss. You can’t help but feel special to be here. It’s as if you’ve stumbled upon a secret – the most picturesque and inviting village in the world. I suppose that’s why Condé Nast Traveler called it “the best undiscovered beach town in Brazil.” Well then…there goes the secret!
This former fishing village in Brazil’s Bahia state offers everything from eco-accommodation to understated luxury with beautiful beaches, wonderful restaurants, trendy shops and an infectious bohemian vibe. At the heart of this exceptionally tranquil town is the ‘Quadrado,’ the pedestrian square of Trancoso. This rectangular patch of grass is lined on its long sides by huge Monkeypod trees and brightly painted UNESCO-protected houses (old fisherman huts turned into boutique shops and restaurants). Colorful by day, enchantingly illuminated at night, the Quadrado is your go-to destination for eating, drinking, shopping and people watching.
Casa de Gloria – This is the house of Gloria (middle of the Quadrado on the right-hand side) who was the midwife of Trancoso and delivered all the local babies. She passed away a couple of years ago and her family decided to open it as a restaurant on Sundays. They serve Feijoada, a classic Brazilian dish, in their pretty back garden under Cacao, Pitanga, banana and other tropical trees. The food is delicious and the staff is warm and friendly. Save room for dessert because it’s amazing. Their ‘brigadeiro’ is the best we had in all our time in Brazil! I’m still dreaming of it now.
Capim Santo – Located on a little side street off the Quadrado (on the left side if you’re looking at the church), this charming restaurant has a wonderful ambience, with both inside and outside tables, and the staff is incredibly friendly. It is known by the locals to serve the best food in town.
Silvinha’s – It is definitely worth a drive over to Praia Espelho to have lunch at Silvinha’s rustic beach restaurant. You’ll have to hire a driver to take you to this remote beach about an hour outside of Trancoso, but once you’re there, you’ll enjoy a delicious seafood lunch (served by Silvinha herself!) in this beautifully decorated little beachside shack. Be sure to make a reservation before you go because even in the off-season this restaurant books up quickly.
Maritaca – Surprisingly, the pizza options in this little town are wonderful and plentiful. Maritaca has the best ambience of all (though this is reflected in the higher prices) and serves a selection of thin-crust pizzas straight out of the wood-fired oven.
El Gordo – This spot is an upscale, beautiful restaurant with stunning cliff-top views out over the beach, making this a good spot for a romantic date night.
Lastly, you can’t visit Trancoso without trying the local ‘fast food’ option: tapioca crêpes! Located at the entrance of the Quadrado you’ll find a row of little crêpe carts and queues of locals requesting either sweet or savory. Delicious!
Casa Lola – This stunning home, created by New York-based interior designer Jan Eleni, is perfection in every way. Casa Lola was constructed of local materials with all the furniture and most decorations sourced locally. Its location in town, a short walk from the Quadrado, will make you feel like a local immediately. You won’t want to leave!
Uxua – This 5-star boutique hotel, the only located on the Quadrado, offers the epitome of barefoot, rustic chic. The hotel was restored by Diesel designer Wilbert Das in collaboration with local artisans using native and reclaimed materials. It consists of 10 carefully restored fisherman cottages turned into individual casas. Uxua also has a bar on the beach serving cocktails and snacks from an antique wooden boat. Cocktail in hand, feet in the sand.
Itaporanga Indian Village - Make a visit to the Indian markets in the nearby Itaporanga. This is about a 20-minute drive from Trancoso (en route to Praia Espelho) and the market stalls are incredible! You’ll find beautiful dream catchers, home decorations, kitchen bowls & platters, and adorable toys for the kids, all handmade from local materials.
Divino’s – On the Quadrado, this shop offers stylish artisanal home decorations, bohemian accessories and an overall inspiring beachy vibe.
Le Marche – An upscale grocery store and delicatessen with good bread and other European and American food items. Here you can pick up delicious sandwiches for picnics on the beach, and they also have a small selection of pretty baskets, linens and homewares.
The Beach – Trancoso can get very busy in the high season (December through March), but there’s always a quiet stretch of sand on the pristine coastline of Trancoso. If you walk beyond the busy beach bars and restaurants, you can easily find a quiet spot in the shade of a coconut tree. It’s best to be at the beach during low tide because you can find beautiful shells and corals, enjoy the shallow, warm tides, and if you’re lucky, you can spot turtles sticking their heads out of the waves. If you’re after a cabana and cocktail, Uxua is your spot.
Kayak Down the Trancoso River – This is a beautiful 1-2 hour Kayak ride down a winding river and through the lush jungle leading you out onto the beach next to the Uxua Beach Bar. Our friend, Facundo, can arrange this for you (he speaks English and his prices are very fair). His number is 99934-7501.
Surf Lessons with Romualdo – The waves in Trancoso are generally small yet consistent, making it a perfect place to learn to surf. You’ll find the surf hut on the beach just past Uxua and across the river. Hourly prices are reasonable and it includes boards and equipment.
Images via: Courtney Adamo