The picturesque Praia do Espelho in Bahia, Brazil is one of the best places in the world.
It’s not easy to get to Brazil’s best beach. First, you have to get to Brazil, which is at minimum an 8-hour flight from the United States. Then, you have to fly to the small coastal town of Porto Seguro. From there, you’ll have to hire a taxi to take you to the stylish beach town of Trancoso, where you’ll begin your journey to Praia do Espelho. This off-the-beaten-path beachy heaven can only be reached via an hour-long drive on a dirt road without cell service. You can brave the roads by yourself, or hire a driver for about $100.
Just when you feel like you’re good and lost with no coastline in sight, Praia do Espelho comes into view. The sandy parking lot behind a few scattered and nondescript buildings does little to convince visitors that they’ve arrived in paradise, but once you catch a glimpse of the beach, it’s pure magic. White cliffs frame a palm-fringed beach made of perfectly golden sand. You can walk for miles in either direction and find yourself utterly alone in flawless remote paradise—there’s no development, houses, or people in sight. Just the occasional coconut. The wild and raging Atlantic Ocean of New England is non-existent in this part of the world. Instead, the water is downright Caribbean, with warm (but still refreshing) water in shades of turquoise and lapis. Espelho means mirror in Portuguese and the calm waters have a reflective surface.
The small cove is home to a few simple bohemian beach hotels (and one wildly stylish Airbnb). Among the guesthouses and beach clubs is Recanto do Espelho, a colorful and eccentric hotel, restaurant, and beach club with a wide grassy lawn dotted with palm trees. Colorful pillows are strewn about, hammocks hang between trees, and lounge chairs face the ocean.
The decor is unintentionally chic, with furniture crafted from driftwood and sun-bleached floral linens straight out of an Anthropologie mood board. There’s an outdoor bar that’s fully stocked with coconuts for all the tropical beverages that the perfect beach day might require. When it’s time to eat, order a bowl of Moqueca de Camaroes, a spicy tomato-based shrimp stew made with coconut milk and served with a side of rice and a deliciously fresh salad. If you want to stick with more traditional beach fare of fried seafood, there’s plenty to be found at the other restaurants and bars along the beach.
Praia do Espelho is idyllic in a way that’s obscene. It feels like a ridiculous lucid dream that’s better than anything you could have imagined on your own. It’s the sort of paradise that you’ll never want to leave, and you don’t actually have to (for a few days at least). While you might be the kind of person to get cabin fever at a hotel that’s an hour on a dirt road from the nearest town, you also might be the kind of person who can do absolutely nothing for days on end and feel ecstatic about it (as long as there’s a good book around, of course). If you’re the former, make it a day trip. If you’re the latter, book a room at the divinely chic Cala & Divino hotel, made up of exquisitely designed bungalows scattered around the beach.
Once you move past the small cluster of hotels and restaurants, the beach feels like absolute wilderness. A dense forest of palm trees borders the golden sand and there’s not a single house, road, or even human in sight. A ten-minute walk takes you out of sight of civilization, where the only footprints in the sand are your own. There’s a sense of solitude and solace in nature here that’s almost impossible to find in other parts of the world. It’s simply sublime here. Hopefully you’ll be able to find it.