Friday, July 23, 2010

Destination of the Week...

For today’s Destination of the Week, I felt it was time to share one of my favorite non-secret secrets from the road. Morro do São Paulo, Brazil is one of my favorite places on earth. Known also as simply “Morro”, this former pirate haven can be found 169 miles (272km) off the coast from Salvador, Bahia. This tropical paradise has not just one perfect beach, but four distinctly different ones, from First Beach to Fourth Beach, and several around the other side of the island. Cheap prices, warm locals, great food, snorkeling, a zipline, and an island-wide party in a new location every single night, will certainly keep you busy. During the perfect days, most people relax and play beach games on Second Beach, where many of the food stands and bars can be found, but no matter which beach you’re on, you’re never more than a short walk to the others. Once the sunbathing crowds (which begin to double in December) head inside to clean up for a night out, the locals transform the soft sand; nearly every ten feet you will find a Caipirinha (a Brazilian drink made from cachaça) stand, each with an exotic fruit display trying to outdo the next. Accommodation on Morro ranges from a campsite in the main town, to luxury resorts along Fourth Beach. In my opinion, the most backpacker-friendly place to call home is the Black & White Hostel on Third Beach. You’ll be able to spot it by the black and white checkered floor out front. Regardless of where you stay, don’t bring too much luggage because the only taxis you’ll find on Morro will be wheel barrels, pushed by strong Brazilian men who make it look easy. Cars are not allowed on the island. In fact, the only motorized transportation you’ll spot will be the occasional tractor. If you don’t feel like walking, get on a horse as the locals do. Internet is also hard to come by on the island but it doesn’t matter because you won’t want to spend your time anywhere but in the warm blue water.

There is a local airstrip on the island, for small planes that leave from Salvador, but the best way to get there is by boat. Even the ferry ride to Morro is magical. The three hour cruise is a perfect way to work on your tan, count the jumping fish, and if you’re lucky, watch the dolphins doing corkscrew flips straight out of the sea! When buying your boat ticket to Morro you will be offered a discount to purchase your return ticket, but the catch is that you must return within a week. Be careful with this because even if you think a week will be enough, you may find yourself depressed that your time is up already. Many people visit Morro do São Paulo and never leave. You’ll be tempted to do the same!

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