Planning Your Time
Bahia is one of the most versatile and pleasant places to travel in Brazil, with options to suit all manner of budgets and time frames. Distances, as with all of Brazil, are significant, and flights can often be cheaper than bus journeys, so book well in advance or check for last-minute promotions. For a quintessential Bahian experience, plan to spend at least 48 hours in Salvador, getting your bearings and soaking up Bahia’s rich history and delicious cuisine before heading off to one of the many beach destinations. First-time visitors should try not to be too ambitious but instead choose one of the three "coasts" to explore (Dendê, Cocoa, or Discovery), using internal flights to the airport hubs of each to save time.
Those short on time should head for the Dendê Coast, south of Salvador: The buzzing beach island of Morro de São Paulo, only two hours from Salvador by boat, makes for a great weekend break, but if you can spare four days, don’t miss neighboring Boipeba, a hidden paradise that needs to be seen to be believed. Those with five days or more should make for the rugged wilds and deserted sands of emerging hot spot Barra Grande on the Maraú Península, which borders the Cocoa Coast and is easily accessible from Ilhéus airport. Like Itacaré, on the Cocoa Coast, it offers a more affordable, laid-back experience and is a favorite among adventure lovers. Meanwhile the Discovery Coast counts Trancoso, one of Brazil’s chicest beach towns, as its crowning jewel and offers the most sophisticated experience of Bahia, as well as some of the most remote beach escapes in the state—look out for Caraiva and Corumbau but be prepared to travel over bumpy roads. If you don't rent a car, know that transfers don't come cheap.