Dec 22, 2008

Trancoso, in Bahia: beach, parties and glam

Every holiday weekend the Porto Seguro airport in Brazil’s sunny Bahia state is a hive of activity as São Paulo’s gliteratti flock en masse – many by private jet - to nearby Trancoso, which has gone from sleepy fishing village to the country’s most glam and exclusive beach destination. Big-name musicians and fashion types are often spotted walking the soft-sand beach by day, and by night, mingling at the open-air restaurants like the always lively Capim Santo (Praça do Beco, 55, tel. 55-73-3668-1122) and lantern-lit lounges which will soon outnumber the charming native-run fish houses. On a bluff overlooking the sea, the stylishly restored candy-colored colonial houses that ring the grassy main square (at right) sell everything from signature jewelry by Syomara Crespi (Praça São João, 78, tel. 55-73-3668-1814) to designer beachwear and jeans flown in from São Paulo at Etnia (Praça São João, 33, 55-73-3668-1669). Yet despite the hype Trancoso remains blissfully quaint, tranquil and free of crowds – at least for now.

Here is a comprehensive listing of hotels and pousadas:

Gorgeous mansion for rent in the Terravista gated development

While Trancoso has dozens of small pousadas - or inns - many in-the-know paulistas prefer renting luxury homes so they can have a full staff at their service and lots of room to entertain. One of the most gorgeous houses I've ever seen in Trancoso, in the Terravista gated development, is often up for rent. Overlooking the eponymous golf course, the house has a wopping 6 bedrooms, decorated with colonial-style furniture and bird prints with the help of neighbour and friend Sig Bergamin, one of Brazil's top interior designers. The mansion keeps it casual with whitewashed walls and boasts a beautifully landscaped inner courtyard. Wide verandahs with plus patio furniture face the gardens and pool.
For prices and more information, call (55-11) 3889-0019

Jacaré do Brasil
Pça. São João, 9 (Quadrado)
Tel. (55-73)3081-6109
Best location at the oceanside edge of the Quadrado, best ocean views, best vibe. Only a few rooms, all with their own kitchen. Incredible design. Absolutely unbeatable.
To read a full post about this pousada and to see photos, please click here.

Just opened, also at Praça São João, which is the Quadrado's official name.
To read a full post on it click here.

Pousada Estrela d'Água
Estrada do Arraial (Praia dos Nativos), 1,5 km
Tel. (55-73)3668-1030

By far the best-known pousada of all, it's also a favourite beach hangout for Brazilian socialites: the beach bar serves food and drinks on the beach (above). The pool area is reserved for guests only (below). The hotel is a member of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux association.

Pousada Etnia
Rua Principal
Tel. (55-73)3668-1137
The location is far from perfect: it's on a busy and unattractive section of the cobbled main thoroughfare. But once inside it becomes clear why this is a favourite of Europeans: the Italian owners have designed each bungalow in a different theme, to stunning effect. Breakfast is served on a breezy pavillion overlooking the pool and gardens.

El Gordo Pousada
Praça S. João (Quadrado)
Tel. (55-73)3668-1193
The Achiles heel of this overpriced pousada is the fact that its pool (at left) is crammed between the restaurant-lounge (shown below) and the reception, offering zero privacy to sunbathing guests. Great location, spacious rooms, tastefully decorated.

Mata N'ativa Pousada
Estr. do Arraial (Praia dos Nativos)
Cute pousada very near the Nativos beach (not the best beach). Down a steep hill - hence walking distance - from the Quadrado.
Tel. (55-73)3668-1830

Pousada Capim Santo

Rua do Beco, Pça. S. João (Quadrado)
Tel. (55-73)3668-1122
Where I always stay. Love the airy bathrooms (at left). Enough said.

Hotel da Praça
Pça. S. João (Quadrado)
Tel. (55-73)3668-2121
Lovely airy lounge area and restaurant facing lush gardens make up (almost) for the cramped rooms and lack of pool. Great location, right on the Quadrado.

Club Med
Fazenda Taípe, Estrada Municipal, km 18 (Praia de Taípe), 8 km
Tel. (55-73)3575-8400
This is actually not in Trancoso, but a bit North of it, in Arraial d'Ajuda. The pros are the unbeatable infrastructure (especially for families) and the Terravista golf. The cons are being isolated and far from the action of the Quadrado, which is a 20 minute cab ride away, and having to walk down a million steps to the beach, since the hotel sits on a high bluff (photo below).

Puerto Bananas, a.k.a. Porto Bananas
Quadrado, Tel. (55-73) 3668-1017
Cute little pousada right on the Quadrado and next door to Cacau, one of the better restaurants of Trancoso. No pool, but lots of gardens. Best rooms are on the second floor of the bungalows - airier, better view, less noise. Very popular with the São Paulo crowd.

Villas de Trancoso
Estr. do Arraial (Praia dos Nativos), 2 km
Tel. (55-73)3668-1151
Owned by an American and very pricey.

Bahia Bonita Club

Rio Verde beach, Tel. (55-73) 3668-1565
Set right on the best beach there is, so perfect for those who like to lounge by the sea all day long. Great feel, thanks to, among other things, full integration with the surrounding greenery plus a "floorless" lounge area set right on the sand. Some suites have A/C, others use fans and ocean breezes for cooling. During the high season (Christmas until after Carnival) the beach turns into a "beach club", serving pricey food and drinks and playing ounge music.

Pousada Calypso
Parque Municipal
Tel. (55-73)3668-1113

Pousada Mundo Verde
R. do Telégrafo, 43
Tel. (55-73)3668-1279
Slightly tacky for my taste, but very clean and proper little rooms with balconies. The pool (at right) has ugly plastic chaises but gorgeous views of the sea below. Secluded and quiet yet only a 5-minute walk from the Quadrado.

Pousada Encantada
R. Joao Vieira de Jesus
Tel. (55-73)3668-2024

Pousada Ramona

Rua Jovelino Rodrigues Vieira, 100
Tel. (55-73)3668-1103

Café Esmeralda
Praça S. João (Quadrado)
Tel. (55-73)3668-1527

Casa Itália
Alameda dos Colibris
Tel. (55-73)3668-1062
Small pool, lush tropical gardens, only half a km from the Quadrado.

Pousada do Bosque

Rua Bom Jesus (Caminho da Praia)
Tel. (55-73)3668-1040

Pousada Hibisco
Rua Bom Jesus
Tel. (55-73)3668-1117

Pousada Jardim das Margaridas
R. Jovelino Rodrigues Vieira, 230
Tel. (55-73)3668-1108

Pousada Quarto Crescente
R. Principal
Tel. (55-73)3668-1014

Pousada Som do Mar
Estr. do Arraial (Praia dos Nativos), 1 km
Tel. (55-73)3668-1812
LinkThe location, right by the Nativos beach, is not great.


  1. Um limpo e bem gerir país. Que as pessoas se orgulham de viver naquele lugar. Mais poder para o site. Grandes informações você tem post!

  2. Trancoso realmente e linda, visitei o ano passado e ja quero voltar logo! O condomínio Terravista realmente e fantastico, tem um campo de golf linda la!