One of my favorite conversation questions with people I meet is: “Qual é sua praia preferida?” Or “What is your favorite beach?” I never knew that there were so many different types of beaches until I came to Salvador. The diversity of shore that lines this peninsula is astounding. What is particularly amusing to me, however, is the way in which Bahians talk about and classify the different sections of shoreline, when to me, it’s really all one big long beach. But just as each bairro has its own unique characteristics, so the look and feel of each piece of praia changes according to its location on the peninsula and the neighborhood that’s settled beside it.
The farther north you go, the more room you have to breathe in the air and spread out your conga in the sand without laying in someone else’s shadow. These beaches, like Praia do Flamengo, or Itapuã, are still a feasible day trip away and are the preference of many Bahians that I talk to, who dislike the crowded beaches in the bay, describing Porto da Barra as “sempre cheia das pessoas” as they wrinkle up their noses and flap their hands like talking mouths. While my introverted soul rejoices at the more “tranquilo” atmosphere of the northern beaches outside the bay, I loved vibrant community feel of Praia de Boa Viagem which still hugs the curve of the bay in Ribeira, where the less “chic” Brasilians live, work, play, where funky blasts from bayside barracas (thatch-roofed seafood stands) and where young (and old!) men do flips off the crumbling stone dock.
While I have learned that every praia is unique, some things seem characteristic to any beach in Brasil: there’s always a soccer game played by buff guys whose butts are squeezed into skin-tight speedos, a paddle board game played by old, pot-bellied guys whose butts are also squeezed into the same skin-tight speedos, congas in the sand, kites in the sky, and of course, the beach vendors that hawk everything from picolés (popsicles), to caipirinhas, chilled água de coco (a coconut with a straw), and freshly fried cheese on a stick.
The infamous Porto da Barra. I took this photo early in the morning, so the beach is still fairly empty. Usually you can hardly walk through all the beach umbrellas and people sprawled on the sand.
The view from Porto da Barra includes Ilha da Itaparica in the distance speckled with red barges and brightly colored fishing boats that sit close to the shore. I took this shot during an aguathlon (running and swimming) that my friend Rebecca did.
Porto da Barra is about a 20-minute walk from my house–the closest beach.
A sand sculptor recovering some of his work after a storm.
Praia do Itapuã is much farther north outside of the bay. You take the orla bus, which is all shoreline view as you wind your way up the peninsula.
To the right of us, closer to the city
To the left, endless ocean shoreline
Fishing boats in Itapuã
Farol de Itapuã
More lighthouse views. There was a man fishing off the rocks.
Silly shadow pictures
The sun began to set and we knew it was time to get home. While I love the beaches farther to the north, it is safest to leave around 4 and not wait around until evening comes.
Black and white view of Salvador
Amanda being Amanda
Eu te amo meu Brasil!
Praia do Flamengo is the farthest beach to the north that can still be a day trip. After church one Sunday (which is in the same direction), my friend Rebecca and I got back on the bus for what seemed like forever, until I didn’t even recognize Salvador anymore. There were actually houses instead of high-rises! And quaint little communities of condominiums by the shore.
There were a lot of tables in some areas, where most people were sitting and enjoying fish, clams, beer, and little, speckled hard-boiled bird eggs that are popular to eat on the beach.
Conga and Havaianas in the sand
The waves were a lot more rough because we were far from the protection of the bay.
Soccer and empty coconuts on the beach. Often there’s some dog going crazy trying to tear the coconut apart.
Cute little boys. There were a lot of families at this beach.
Walking along the beach, following the ruts of the picolé cart