Trip Report: Maraú Peninsula (Taipú do Fora & Barra Grande)

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I spent the previous two weeks in the Bahia state of Brazil, an incredible region rich in Brazilian culture lined with endless beautiful beaches. The first week I stayed in Itacaré, a small fishing and surfing village with some of the best Brazilian food I’ve ever tasted. I wrote a trip report about my experience in Itacaré earlier this week. The second week I stayed about a 45 minute drive north of Itacaré on the Maraú peninsula, at a beach called Taipú do Fora that’s known for excellent snorkeling. It’s less than a ten minute drive from a town called Barra Grande which we visited frequently in the evenings to eat, drink and watch sunsets. This post will be about my second week in Bahia.

Getting There

A Brazilian in Itacaré had warned my boyfriend and I that the road that travels up into the Maraú Peninsula, the one we would need to take to get to our bed and breakfast in Taipú do Fora, was a horrible one that you really should only drive in a 4×4 vehicle. We researched it ourselves online before setting out, but in general the internet said the road is only bad during the rainy season, which it isn’t right now. So we decided to tough it out in our little rental Hyundai ;-P

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I starred Salvador de Bahia on the map to show you where we originally flew into. Ilhéus is circled as well–that is actually the closest airport to Itacaré and the Maraú Peninsula, but there was no award space available and the cash tickets were expensive.

We were mentally prepared for this route to be so bad that it entailed turning around and going back to Itacaré. Thankfully that’s not what happened.

The road had some potholes, and other areas were sandy and a little tricky to drive through, but our Hyundai did fine. The drive actually only took 45 minutes, not 1.5 hours like Google estimated. I could see how torrential rains would make the roads unnavigable, but in fact, the little bit of rain that fell the night before we drove (I think) helped pack down the sandy spots. We saw plenty of other two-wheel drive cars as well.

Taipú do Fora

We stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast spitting distance from the gorgous Taipú do Fora beach, called the Pousada Latina Arte. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is owned by an Argentine man, Juan Pablo, who runs the place with his Brazilian wife Priscilla. They have done a marvelous job restoring the older building, and all the antiques and art give the place charm. The breakfast was fabulous as well with tons of fresh baked breads, fruits, and eggs made to order. Ask Priscilla for her banana cake with chocolate sauce. Unreal.

Pousada Latina Arte in Taipú do Fora
Pousada Latina Arte in Taipú do Fora

And the wifi worked pretty well! It was a miracle. All of this for only $75 a night.

As for the beach of Taipú do Fora, I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Taipú do Fora
Taipú do Fora
Taipú do Fora
Taipú do Fora
Taipú do Fora
Taipú do Fora

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Taipú do Fora
Taipú do Fora
Panorama of Taipú do Fora
Panorama of Taipú do Fora

Our main attraction to this beach, aside from the fact that it looked incredible in pictures, was the reef directly off (more like on) the shore. Here’s a shot from above so you can picture it…

the reef at taipu do fora
Photo from turismo.ig.com.br

As long as you timed it right with low tide or high tide, you could snorkel right off the beach for a good two hours a day. We saw tons of interesting marine life and brightly colored fish.

Perhaps the loveliest part was that if you walked just a few hundred meters in either direction of these natural pools, you’d be alone. The white sand beach and turquoise water spans for miles in either direction. It is remarkable.

Taipú do Fora
Taipú do Fora

Most of the restaurants we tried in Taipú do Fora weren’t so stellar, with the exception of Das Meninas. We had fresh fried fish there as well as a coconut curry shrimp dish. The view wasn’t so bad either.

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Das Meninas in Taipú do Fora

Barra Grande

Barra Grande, the closest town to Taipú do Fora, is less than a ten minute drive north. We visited Barra Grande multiple times to eat dinner and have drinks at sunset.

Our host at the bed and breakfast recommended that we go to a place called Ôh Bar! to enjoy the sunset. It’s situated on Ponta do Mutá (the tip of the peninsula), right where the river meets the ocean. The waters there are very calm, so it’s a great place to go stand up padding boarding.

Me stand up paddle boarding at Ponta do Mutá
Me stand up paddle boarding at Ponta do Mutá
Sunset at Ponta do Mutá
Sunset at Ponta do Mutá

Ôh Bar! was a good recommendation. The sun sets right over the water, directly in front of the restaurant. Seating was comfortable and the shrimp appetizers we tried were pretty tasty.

Ôh Bar! also had good wifi
Ôh Bar! also had good wifi
Ôh Bar!
Ôh Bar!
Sunset at Ponta do Mutá
Sunset at Ponta do Mutá

The beach along Ponta do Mutá is beautiful.

Ponta do Mutá
Ponta do Mutá
Ponta do Mutá
Ponta do Mutá
Ponta do Mutá
Ponta do Mutá

The best restaurant we tried in Barra Grande was A Tapera. We actually ate there three times, and two out three things were a home run: the lobster and the grouper. Both came with grilled fruits and vegetables, rice, farofa, and pirão.

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Lobster at A Tapera.

Sadly their moqueca was not nearly as good as those I tried in Itacaré. Something about Itacaré made for magical moqueca.

The Return Back to Salvador

Maybe it was because we had already driven it once and knew more of what to expect, and made sure we left early enough so as not to be driving in the dark, but the drive back to Salvador seemed like a much easier one than on the way there.

We took a similar route back as there is no ferry you can drive cars onto that leaves the Maraú Peninsula. But instead of driving around the bay, we decided to give the ferry a shot.

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All in all we might have cut off some travel time going around the bay–even though Google Maps will tell you it cuts an hour off the trip–just with waiting on the ferry, loading, unloading, etc. I enjoyed it nonetheless, especially because our boat departed right at sunset.

Sunset on the ferry from Vera Cruz to Salvador
Sunset on the ferry from Vera Cruz to Salvador

The ferry schedule says online says it leaves at the top of the hour every hour, but we arrived at 4:45 pm to find a lot of cars lined up. We waited around (there were little places selling food and beer in the ferry port) and then finally were called to load at about 5:30 pm, and left about 6:00 pm. So it’s possible that we just arrived too late to catch the 5 pm ferry and that they had cut off cars from loading earlier than 4:45 pm.

Bottom Line

I loved–absolutely loved–the Maraú Peninsula. The beaches of Taipú do Fora are long, uncrowded, and truly felt like paradise. If you decide to travel to this area I recommend staying in Taipú do Fora as opposed to Barra Grande. It makes access to snorkeling easier, and the beaches are prettier than they are around Barra Grande. But if you’d rather be around more civilization and aren’t that interested in snorkeling/deserted beaches, then stay in Barra Grande. There are more accommodation and restaurant options and you can always drive or take a taxi to the day to Taipú do Fora.

The following picture is of a phrase painted on the back of a menu at A Tapera.

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That means “In Bahia, we have a way…”, and I couldn’t agree more.

If anyone has any questions about Brazil, I’d be happy to help! I’ve traveled to all of the following places in Brazil over the last few years.

  • Salvador
  • Itacaré
  • Maraú Peninsula
  • Morro de Sao Paolo
  • Ilha de Boipeba
  • Chapada Diamantina
  • Rio de Janeiro
  • Buzios
  • Florianopolis
  • Foz de Iguaçu

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5 COMMENTS

  1. awesome. my wife and i love Brazil. I’d like to know more about Florianapolis… what you liked/disliked and what you recommend

    • Ive been to Florianopolis a couple of times and have always enjoyed it. The city is divided into two areas, the mainland and the island of Santa Catarina. I recommend staying on the island as that is where all the best beaches are. Once I stayed next to Mole beach and once on the lake, and liked both places. I also thinking renting a car is a good idea to be able to get places around the island…most beaches aren’t walking distance. There are lots of beautiful hikes in the area, and tons of beaches, different types for different tastes (family beach, party beach, nude beach, gay beach, etc…) I did a great hike to an isolated beach, probably my favorite one in the area, called Lagoinha do Leste. Don’t miss it. My favorite restaurant is a place called Santa Marta bistro. Not cheap, but worth it. I remember thinking it was one of the best meals I’d had in South America.

      It can get cold in Florianopolis as it’s pretty far south, so aim for late spring or early summer (November/December). I would avoid high season if you can (the holidays through Carnival which ends March 1) as it will be a good deal more expensive and crowded.

  2. Just wanted to say great article and some great pics! I live here and know the region well… I’m in Saquaira which is the little town you pass through on the way up to Taipu and Barra Grande. I’m actually starting my own site and trying to get the word out about this region and Bahia in general, so if you can think of a way we can help each other let me know! http://www.bestofbahia.com
    BTW Tapera does a great dish called Argentinian beef that comes on a sizzling platter.. my favorite!

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