A practical guide to visiting Praia do Forte, Bahia
by Tooka Pourgive
If you want to experience the authentic culture of Brazil, but avoid the chaos of the big cities, then Praia do Forte is the perfect destination for you! With endless beautiful beaches, traditional Bahian cuisine, live samba music, and all kinds of leisure activities, Praia do Forte is one of the most famous exotic beach destinations in the state of Bahia, situated in northeast of Brazil. The warm Bahian atmosphere caters to both solo travellers and families.
The best option for tourists who want to explore outside of Praia do Forte village is to rent a car at Salvador International Airport. Taxis are also available which I recommend when going to the airport.
The cheaper option is public transportation. A main bus line crosses the entire coast from Salvador to Praia do Forte in an hour, called Linha Verde. These are big blue buses written ‘LIS’ on them, which you can find at the main bus station in Salvador, and it is the most convenient. Another bus line which travels the same path is called Linha Branca, but it is only for the brave, and best not to take it, as it is a van that gets jam-packed to the brim. Trust me when I say, avoid the Linha Branca.
If you’re looking to stay at a hotel, Tivoli Ecoresort Praia do Forte which has 5 stars and includes many amenities is perhaps your only option.
Shanti House Apart
Unlike most touristic destinations, there aren’t any other traditional hotels in Praia Do Forte, instead, there are a range of pousadas, or privately-owned apartments and room rentals available. When I had first arrived, I stayed at Shanti House Apart where I rented out a studio with a small kitchen inside.
The first thing that captures the attention is the scenery; coral reefs stretch alongside the shoreline, forming many natural salt water pools. Known for its curative properties, you may bathe in them and soak the Bahian sun. Keep in mind to not get sunburnt!
If you’re a surfer, then Praia do Forte is the destination for you! A reef break forms a canal in the middle which takes you to the line-up, and also has waves breaking on both the left and right sides. Don’t be alarmed by the sight of massive sea turtles as there are many of them but are completely harmless. Surfers should also visit Itacimirim beach, a great surfing spot about 13km away from Praia do Forte.
Two main environmental projects are operating in the area, Projeto Tamar, that works on the preservation of sea turtles, and Projeto Baleia Jubarte, which works on the protection of whales. You can visit their museums to find out more about their works. Whale watching is a major low season activity; from July to October, humpback whales visit the Bahian litoral coast for reproduction. You may catch a glimpse of them from the shore or go on a whale watching cruise for some live action.
I have seen this happen a few times and would like to alert you in advance; if you see short white poles standing around on the beach with the word TAMAR written on it, please don’t touch them or walk close to them, as they are markings for buried sea turtle eggs.
If you prefer on-land activities, the nearby Sapiranga Reserve has an off-road trail for which you can rent quad bikes and explore the nature.
A walking and cycling trail is also built around the village, surrounded by a beautiful natural pond. Don’t forget a hat and sunglasses!
São Francisco de Assis Church
The church of São Francisco de Assis, is the most evident sight, which you will not miss on your way to the beach. This is where the natives hold their weddings, baptisms and related religious ceremonies.
Garcia d’Ávila Tower House
The only historical monument near Praia do Forte is Garcia d’Ávila Tower House. Built in the 17th century, the castle remains on the hilltop looking over the ocean. Visiting this sight is relevant to me as it is reminiscent of Portuguese Colonialism. It is important to note that the city of Salvador is the port from which all African Slaves were brought through to South America. The ancestors of the Bahian people are descendants of African slaves and native American captives; their mixture is reflected in the Candomblé religion, in their Samba music, and in the martial art of Capoeira.
There are several restaurants which offer the standard Brazilian buffet, that usually includes rice, beans, meats and salads, at very reasonable pricing, around 12 Reals, and more authentic Bahian cuisine, and fresh sea foods at a higher price ranging from 40-80 Reals. The most well-known bahian dish is the Moqueca, consisting of either fish or shrimp cooked freshly in coconut milk and palm oil. A serving for two costs about 40 Reals and is well worth it.
If you’re looking for something to snack on, there are several places dedicated to serving my favourite food, acai, a berry native to the amazon forest which is frozen, beaten, and served as a natural ice-cream with your choice of fruits, nuts, and granolas as topping. It is absolutely delicious, nutritious and healthy.
Another favourite food of mine is Acarajé, which is basically a ball of peeled beans deep fried in palm oil and then stuffed with shrimps, salad and a paste with cashew.
The number one refreshment for cooling down and re-energising is coconut water, straight out of a coconut, which you can find in several spots across the village. Once you finish drinking it, don’t forget to ask them to cut open the coconut for you. They will cut off a piece of the skin which you then use as a spoon to eat the jelly-like coconut flesh.
Praia do Forte is filled with small local souvenir shops, traditional cotton clothing shops, surf shops, art shops and 3 supermarkets. There is also one exchange office in the centre of the village which opens after midday.
At night, especially on the weekend, many of the restaurants and bars have live bands. The most famous bar is Bar de Souza, which has famous Brazilian singers perform on their stage.
Every Friday, around 6-7 pm, there is Capoeira performance in the centre of the village which is a must see.
If you happen to be there at the end of June, you can catch the festivities of São João, with lots of Forró and Samba bands performing in the centre of the village. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes because you will dance!!
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January 18, 2019
Bahia is a beautiful place to visit! I highly recommend it! Thanks for tips Touka in how to make a visit easier!
January 18, 2019
Very good, concise and informative account. I would have more stressed however on the burning heat and skin protection needs.
February 1, 2019
Thank you for this informative article!