This incredible lake is famous around the world for the contrast between the pitch dark body of water and very white sands that encircle it, highlighted by bright tropical sunshine and deep blue skies above. The entire area around the lake is a protected state park of the same name --animated with plenty of bars and live music in a designated entertainment area nearby.
Salvador is surrounded by pristine beaches with a variety of landforms and wave strengths to choose from. Porto de Barra is a very popular beach and also the site of the first European settlement in Bahia. In the northeast, Flamengo and Stella Maris are popular with tourists and have good rough waters for surfing. Calmer waters are found at Jaguaribe, Piata, and Itapoa, which are more popular with locals.
Salvador’s other beaches aren’t great for bathing but do make great places to walk, cycle, or take pictures. Farol da Barra is a rocky beach beneath the iconic lighthouse, with great views of the sunset, and gay cruising on Saturday nights.
Salvador was the capital of Portuguese America for more than 250 years and its wealth and central role in the slave trade left it with a rich architectural legacy. The entire historic center of Salvador was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 for the fine example of Portuguese urbanism in its colorful architecture and city planning. In the 16th century, the administrative center was kept in the upper town while commercial activity was kept in the lower town. Take the historic Elevador Lacerda (Lacerda Elevator) that connects the 235-foot rift between the upper and lower towns, One of the tallest and busiest public elevators in the world, it carries around 50,000 passengers each day.
Part of the city center is called the Pelourinho, or “Pillory,” after the brutal law enforcement that was carried out in open city spaces during the slavery era. The Terreiro de Jesus is one such public square that was home to a pelurinho. You can learn more about the slave trade and the city’s rich African heritage at the Museu Afro-Brasileiro (Afro-Brazilian Museum).
The Mercado Modelo is one of the best markets in the city. Its history runs back to 1861 when the Customs Building was first built. More than 200 stands are set up in the market, selling prepared foods, nuts, cigars and sundry items, along with local arts and crafts, where you're expected to barter for the best deal. There are also two restaurants here. In the adjacent public square, you’ll often see young men practicing capoeira, the beautiful Brazilian dance martial art, and musicians playing. If taking pictures be sure to ask first, to find out how much your subjects might expect in payment.
Mile long sandy beach surrounded by white dunes, 17 km north from Salvador airport at Estrada do Coco (Costa dos Coqueiros). Reefs forming natural pools at low tide provide perfect swimming, even on rough surf days. Almost deserted beaches to south and north. Plenty of restaurants, bars, supermarkets, a pharmacy and other shopping facilities in town. Bahian food and drinks to sample in any of over 40 beach pavilions. Hotel located in tropical garden on banks of natural lake, 12 spacious circular bungalows, swimming pool, sun terrace with chaises and shade; bar, reading-room, Litoral Norte cuisine restaurant, internet access. Also fishing, surfing, golf, and excusions. Rates: US$50 to 60/night per couple.
Take a tours, hire a taxi for the day, or rent a car to drive the winding coast road north of Salvador, to what seems like a very remote village of thatched-roof houses and huts, with small shops, cafes, restaurants and pousadas (guesthouses). At the beautiful palm-lined beach where caipirinhas are served, you can check out TAMAR, the sea turtle project --especially interesting at feeding time.