Bahia is the spiritual capital of Brazil. It was the first area to be colonised by the Portuguese and for many years its vast sugarcane, coffee and cocoa plantations provided the dynamic for Brazil’s agricultural economy.
A strong African and Caribbean heritage prevails in every facet of life in Bahia, particularly in its food – be sure to sample the moqueca, a delicious fish-and-seafood stew in coconut sauce – and music, ubiquitous day and night. This is the birthplace of Samba and Capoeira – an acrobatic dance-cum-martial art.
The state capital, Salvador, is a UNESCO World Heritage site – a panorama of brilliant pastels, African rhythms, thick, tropical heat and clinking Caipirinhas.
Inland, the 376,000-acre Chapada Diamantina National Park, dubbed Brazil’s “Taj Mahal of adventure tourism” is a rugged playground of vast canyons, table mountains, waterfalls, cacti, orchids and lagoons, ideal for biking, trekking and canoeing.
For some of Brazil’s loveliest beaches and best surf, follow the coast of Bahia south to the little-visited eco resorts of Itacare and the picture-perfect, uber-hip, cliff-top fishing village of Trancoso.
We have travelled throughout Bahia to identify the best rooms, restaurants and guides, and the most spectacular beach houses for private rental.