The largest of 56 islands in the Baía de Todos os Santos, Itaparica was originally settled because its ample supply of fresh mineral water was believed to have rejuvenating qualities. Its beaches are calm and shallow, thanks to the surrounding reefs, which are avidly sought by windsurfers, divers, and snorkelers. The main port of entry on the north of the island is the town of Bom Despacho, where the ferries from Salvador dock. The best beaches are near the villages of Vera Cruz, Mar Grande, and Conceição, the latter almost entirely owned by Club Med Itaparica.
Instead of buses or taxis, small Volkswagen vans (called kombis) provide the most convenient local transportation around the island. You can hail vans and hop from beach to beach along the 40 km (25 miles) of BA 001, the coastal highway that connects Itaparica village on the north part of the island to the mainland via Ponte do Funil (Funnel Bridge) on the southwest side. The drive from Salvador to the island takes
about four hours. Bicycle rentals are readily available in the island's towns, so you don't really need a car if you're comfortable with bicycling.
Terminal Marítimo São Joaquim. Ferries to the island run daily from the Terminal Marítimo São Joaquim. Tickets cost R$3.95 during the week and R$5.20 on the weekend. The ferries run from 5 am to 11 pm and last 40 minutes. Av. Oscar Ponte 1051, São Joaquim, Salvador, 40015–270.
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