Brazil is a destination that brings the heat, in every respect of the word. The destination on every cool hunter's radar at the moment? Trancoso. Our Latin America expert Saskia has just returned from a trip to beach idyll and reckons it's the dream luxury break destination...
I had really high expectations of Trancoso, which were 100% met. I loved it, and it is hands down my favourite spot in Brazil.
Trancoso was established by the Jesuits in 1586, who carved a grassy town square (called the Quadrado) out of the rainforest that overlooked the sea and was surrounded by around 50 colourful fisherman's casas and a simple white church. It has been beautifully preserved throughout the centuries, and since being "rediscovered" by a bunch of affluent hippies in the 70s, it has become Bahia's hippest beach village.
As you enter, you drive through the local's part of town - cobbled streets lined with posadas, cheap restaurants/shacks - before reaching the Quadrado which has no car access. Although quiet during the day (aside from children playing football, and carefree horses grazing), after 5pm it comes to life. Millionaires flock and pretend they are fishermen, casting aside their shoes to pad barefoot through boutiques stores (eye-wateringly expensive) and enjoy the restaurants and jewellery stands which open up. Candles are lit all around and fairy lights hang in the trees - it has such a lovely atmosphere.
During the day, everyone hangs out at the wide and beautiful beach with calm water, which is about a 10 minute gentle stroll from the Quadrado. Beach bars are interspersed along its length, but parts are left wild and remote, with pristine Atlantic rainforest spilling out onto the sand. An absolute must is to visit Praia Espelho, which is 45 minutes away on dirt roads and constantly voted one of the best of Brazil's best beaches. Lunch at Sylvinha's - just 3 tables on the sand - is fresh and memorable.
There are a handful of charming hotels, but as is currently the case with Brazil, they are expensive. As we know, you don't get the same bang for your buck as you would in Asia. However, I simply believe it's a case of save up and then just suck it up! Brazil is such a sensual country, and the interaction with the people on your own level is much stronger than you would find in so many other countries.
For those looking for a beach flop and not much else, I'd advise they skip it and go chill on a beach in Thailand. But for those who want to really experience a beach culture like no other, and immerse themselves with the people, music and food of Brazil, then it's just the ticket.