There’s beach vacations, and then there’s beach vacations that take your breath away — something that this tiny Brazilian stretch of sand will almost certainly do as soon as you step onto the pier. Just a two-hour boat ride from Salvador, the capital of Brazil’s Bahia State, Morro de Sao Paulo is a sun-soaked escape like no other. If you’re interested in experiencing this slice of paradise for yourself, here’s everything you need to know about Morro de Sao Paulo.
Your two best options for getting to Morro de Sao Paulo are via small plane or catamaran. The closest airport is located in Salvador (Salvador International Airport), which offers connections with most of Brazil’s major cities. Small planes (air taxis) take passengers from Salvador airport directly to Morro de São Paulo in about 30 minutes.
If you prefer, you can take a catamaran from the Mercado Modelo in Salvador to Morro de São Paulo, which takes approximately two hours. Just keep in mind that since you’ll be travelling on the open ocean, seasickness pills are advised and often needed even if you don’t usually get seasick.
No cars are allowed on the island and there are no paved roads, so the only way to get around here is on foot, most often barefoot as you’ll be spending a lot of time on the beach. The only real method of motorised transportation on the island is by tractor, which sometime carry passengers to other distant beaches or hotels which are further away from the main drag.
If you’re travelling with a lot of luggage, wheelbarrows are offered at the pier to help visitors with their luggage. Just be sure to set the price before you hand your bags off to anyone.
Ready to get dirty? Make your way to secluded Gamboa Beach to indulge in a mud bath. The clay here is said to have beauty benefits and soften the skin. Wade into the water, coat yourself in mud, rinse off and ideally come out with softer skin. There are a small number of places to eat in this area of Morro de Sao Paulo, so you can grab a snack either before or after your mud bath.
Morro de Sao Paulo is the ideal destination for watersports thanks to calm, clear waters. You can easily rent kayaks and stand-up paddleboards by the hour right on the beach for a morning or afternoon enjoying life on the water.
Garapua Beach is often called the Caribbean of Bahia for its beauty, and is worth checking out. This beach boasts fish-filled tide pools and turquoise waters, and can be accessed by boat, 4×4 or hiking.
Caita island can be found in front of Third Beach (beaches here are numbered) and can feel like your own little tropical hideaway. You can rent a kayak or paddleboard to make your way there, and if you’re in the mood to see what’s going on under the waves, rent some snorkel equipment on the island to check out the abundance of colourful sea life.
Farol do Morro is Morro de Sao Paulo’s lighthouse, which can be found close to the entrance dock. Climb the long set of stairs to the top deck for some epic island view, particularly at sunset. And if you’re feeling adventurous, rather than walking back down, take the tirolesa, or zipline. The ride down will take you all the way to First Beach and offers a quick adrenaline rush as you whiz past the coastline. Just remember to wear your bathing suit since when you land, it will be directly in the water.
If you’re visiting Morro de Sao Paulo from July to October, these are the best months for whale watching so you just might be lucky to spot some. You can often see whales right from the shore, so have your camera ready!
Get a glimpse of what Morro de Sao Paulo is like before you visit by checking out this quick tourism video.
Cultivate some island vibes to get in the mood for your trip with some reggae music courtesy of Brazilian reggae band Natiruts.
Before your trip, pick up a book or two by Brazilian author Jorge Amado. Much of his acclaimed work is set in the Brazilian state of Bahia, where Morro de Sao Paulo is located.