Recommended by our traveling friends as an antidote to the hyper paranoia that comes with visiting the crime-ridden city of Salvador is the idyllic island of Morro do Sao Paolo. Morro (pronounced mo-ho), as it’s referred to by locals, was about as pleasant a place to kick back and relax as I’d ever been. Loaded with enough funky restaurants, bars, juice stands and plastic chairs and tables to keep you counting for some time, Morro is an ideal getaway spot and the perfect addition to our around the world travel itinerary.
Laura and I passed our days there hanging out on the beach and going for hikes through the rainforest. On Morro, the key word is “tranquilo,” or at least during the day when the whole world comes to you and you can just relax. We were approached by people selling everything you could imagine ever having to buy at the beach: grilled provolone cheese on a stick with oregano and olive oil, oysters, ice cold beer, sucos of fruits you’ve never heard of, acai, jewelry, hammocks – like I said, you name it.
After the sun sets around 5:30 p.m. (crazy I know) the town shuts down to rest and prepare for a long night ahead. Every night there is something to keep you entertained until early morning, whether you fancy grinding it out at the discoteca or attending one of the many house parties. Not being up for partying till dawn, Laura and I opted for nice seafood meals at the local beach restaurants. The state of Bahia, where Morro is located, is world-renowned for its spicy Afro-Brazilian cuisine. The Bahian specialty is “moqueca”, a mixture of fish, shrimp or lobster in a sauce made of coconut cream, dende (or palm oil), onions, peppers and spicy seasonings. The dende oil is known to give “travelers tummy” so not for the faint of heart. Like most meals in Brazil, the portions are mighty and will keep you full until the fruit-forward breakfasts, or café de manha, the next morning.
There are plenty of tours to take you to the less reachable parts of the island or other islands nearby, but we asked ourselves, “Why leave?” Morro seemed to have enough to keep us entertained that we extended our planned 3-day stay to 5. We hung out on the beach, played cards, swam and people-watched. Both Brazilian men and women bare almost all on the beach, so this was quite entertaining and free so worked well with our traveling budget.
All in all, good times were had. Certainly felt a bit more like vacation, but beaches have a way of doing this I suppose. We are looking forward to comparing the many beaches north of Salvador that we’re heading to next. After it’s all over, I think it will be time for a Top 10 Beaches of Brazil breakdown.