Regions of Bahia
The Coconut Coast
The Coconut Coast, in the north of Bahia, corresponds to a total of 193 km (120 mi) of coastline, where coconut groves, dunes, rivers, swamps and fresh water lagoons are abundant as well as the presence of the Atlantic Rain Forest. The Green Road, a road that connects Mangue Seco in the far north to Praia do Forte, crosses this beautiful region maintaining a critical distance from the areas of environmental preservation. For this reason, the route is sometimes more than 10 km (6.2 mi) from the beach. At Praia do Forte, the road meets the Coconut Road (Estrada do Côco) leading to Salvador, passing through spots, which are now integrated in the urban development of the state capital. In this region is located Deputado Luís Eduardo Magalhães International Airport.
All Saints Bay
The largest bay on the Brazilian coast, Todos os Santos has a large number of islands with tropical beaches and vegetation. In its 1,052 square km, it contains 56 islands, receives sweet water from numerous rivers and creeks (especially the Paraguaçú and Subaé) and bathes the first capital of Brazil and the largest in the Northeast, Salvador, and more than ten municipalities. It is the largest navigable bay in Brazil and one of the most favorite spots for nautical sports, due to its regular breezes, medium annual temperature of 26 °C (79 °F) and sheltered waters. Todos os Santos Bay offers various leisure options, with hundreds of vessels of all different types, especially saveiros, schooners, motor boats, jet ski that criss-cross its crystalline waters on maritime excursions to the islands, and boat races. Major popular events and sport activities occur throughout the year, beginning on January 1, with the Procession of Bom Jesus dos Navegantes greeting the New Year.
Todos os Santos Bay has also been traditionally the venue for rowing contests at the Enseada dos Tainheiros, in Salvador and now the bay is included in the routes of the great international regattas, such as the Ralley Les Iles du Soleil, regatta Hong Kong Challenge and the Expo 98 Round the World Rally, which consider the bay an important stop along the route. The islands of the bay are a separate attraction. Some are privately owned, others were declared a state heritage and transformed into Environmental Protection Areas or ecological stations. Other islands are the patrimony of 12 municipalities located around the bay. Only a few are uninhabited and many have small communities where the natives live on fishing and tourism. All have common characteristics, such a calm sea, dense vegetation, especially coconuts and bananas, as well as vestiges of the Atlantic Forest. Of the 56 islands, the most important are Itaparica, Madre de Deus, Maré, Frades, Medo, Bom Jesus dos Passos.
The Dendê Coast, south of Salvador, is surrounded by verdant vegetation, clear waters, islands, bays, coral reefs and a very diversified fauna. It is connected to Salvador and the southern part of the state by ferryboats and the BA-001 highway, the second ecological highway along the Bahian coast, which connects the southern coastline and the extreme southern part of the state. It includes the municipalities of Valença, Cairu and the International attractions of Morro de São Paulo, Camamu, Taperoá, Igrapiúna, Ituberá and Maraú. The mouth of the Rio Una, in the form of a delta, contains 26 islands, the largest of which is Tinharé, where the Morro de São Paulo is located. At Boipeba and Cairú, which are part of the archipelago of Tinharé, the diversity of the ecosystems enables visitors to practice water sports, walk along the beach, follow trails in the rainforest and bathe on completely deserted beaches such as Garapuá.
Along the southern coast of Bahia, the Cacao Coast preserves ecological sanctuaries with dozens of kilometers of beaches shaded by dense coconut groves, the Atlantic Forest, large areas of wetland vegetation and cacao plantations, the great allies in the struggle to defend the preservation of the Atlantic Forest. Walking along paths in the forest or along the beaches, horseback riding along the coast, boat trips up the vast number of rivers are some of the options that the region offers. Here one can find Environmental Protection Areas at Itacaré/Serra Grande and the Lagoa Encantada in Ilhéus, the Biological Reserve of Una and the Ecological Reserve of Prainha at Itacaré. From the Morro de Pernambuco to Canavieiras, there are 110 km (68 mi) of beaches, some of them highly popular, and other deserted, with clear water,reefs, inlets, coconut grove and an infinite number of estuaries of rivers which extend throughout the Cacao Coast. Highway BA-001 links the municipalities, nearly always bordering the coastline. The most important locations at Cacao Coast are: Itacaré, Ilhéus, and Olivença.
The Discovery Coast
The Discovery Coast preserves, virtually intact, the landscape seen by the Portuguese fleet described in the first pages of the history of Brazil. There are approximately 150 km (93 mi) of beaches, inlets, bays, cliffs, numerous rivers and streams surrounded by the verdant coconut groves, wetlands and the Atlantic Forest. Over land and sea the excursions are always associated with nature, and there are various types of water sports, walks, trips on horseback, surfing and deep sea diving. Recife de Fora, Coroa Alta and Trancoso for one day schooner excursions. BA-001 and two ferryboat systems over the Rio João de Tiba and Rio Buranhém connect the municipalities with the coast. Trips from Barra do Cai, passing through the Parque Nacional do Monte Pascoal, Caraíva, Trancoso, Arraial d’Ajuda, the environmental protection areas of Santo Antônio and Coroa Vermelha, to the mouth of the Rio João de Tiba as far as the Rio Jequitinhonha are among the various ecological trips for visitors.
The Whale Coast
The Abrolhos archipelago in the extreme southern part of Bahia is an ecotourism attraction for diving and whale watching. Whales are frequent between July and November. This region contains one of the largest concentrations of fish, in terms of volume and variety, per square meter on the planet. There are 17 species of corals. The Whale Coast includes the municipalities of Alcobaça, Caravelas, Nova Viçosa and Mucuri and its main attraction is the Abrolhos Marine National Park.
The Diamantina Tableland Region
The geographical center of Bahia is the Diamantina Tableland region. In this mountainous region with a diversified topography, 90% of the rivers of the Paraguaçu, Jacuípe and Rio das Contas basins have their source here. There are thousands of kilometers of clear waters that spring from these mountains and descend in cascades and waterfalls to plateaus and plains, forming beautiful natural pools. The vegetation mixes cactus species of the caatinga dry lands with rare examples of the mountain flora, especially bromeliads, orchids and “sempre vivas” (member of the strawflower family). On the area one can find the three highest mountains in the state: Pico do Barbado, 2,080 m (6,820 ft) high, Pico Itobira, 1,970 m (6,460 ft), and Pico das Almas, 1,958 m (6,424 ft).
Another scenic attraction is the Cachoeira da Fumaça (Waterfall), that falls 420 m (1,380 ft), the Gruta dos Brejões, the largest cavern opening of Bahia, and the amazing Poço Encantado, which fascinates visitors to the region. There are so many natural attractions that it is possible to choose between subterranean routes in caves, or trip to waterfalls, trek along old gold mining trails or follow the steps of the Prestes Column, rappel, climb mountains, or go horseback riding in the Vale do Capão or Vale do Paty, in the midst of esoteric and alternative communities. Many of the sites are protected by the National Park of Diamantina Tableland region and the Environmental Preservation Area Serra do Barbado and Marimbus, Iraquara. There are opportunities to take long bikes, or travel on horseback, mountain bike or off-road vehicles.
Tourism and recreation
Bahia is the most important tourist center in the Northeast and the 2nd in the country. The tourist product in Bahia, 50% of its global flow centered in Salvador, unites in a same space the characteristics of a natural landscape and a unique culture in the country, in which the typical culinary arts, the colonial architecture and popular feasts reveal a strong integration of elements of European and African origin in the formation and in the way of life of the people of Bahia. By its natural and historic-cultural attractions, Bahia presents an enormous potential for the development of the tourist activity. Owner of the biggest portion of seacoast of the country and of singular views in its interior, Bahia possesses specific cultural, folklore and religious characteristics, manifest in its extensive calendar of popular festivities, in its architectonic patrimony and in its typical food.
Salvador, with its Historical Center registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and with its coast clipped into many beaches and dozens of islands, has a varied receptive infrastructure, composed of 170 hostelry units (of which 20 are of international standard hotels) and 25 thousand beds, further to restaurants, bars, nightclubs, shopping malls, theaters, crafts centers, Convention and Fairs Center, rental agencies, tourist agencies, and other equipment and services. In the last few years, the State Government promoted the total restoration of the Pelourinho, the biggest set of colonial style buildings in Latin America, today transformed into an important point for visitation by tourists, that will find there a synthesis of what best Bahia has to offer in specialized services, in regional and international cooking, in architecture of the 17th and 18th centuries and in music, with daily shows by the great artists of Bahia, famous in the country and abroad. The period of popular festivities in Bahia has its high point between December and March (summer months) and has in carnival its supreme point, with more than one million tourists in Salvador, Porto Seguro and other cities of the State’s Tourist circuit.