This town was founded by Jesuits that arrived in 1549 with the Portuguese official Tomé de Souza, the first governor-general of Brazil. Its name is a tribute to Our Lady of Help, a much-revered saint in Portugal. The church and parish were the center of the Catholic Church in Brazil for more than a century.
In the 1970s, laid-back Arraial d’Ajuda attracted Brazilian hippies; and then a slew of foreign adventurers moved here, giving the place an eclectic atmosphere and the nickname "Corner of the World." Nowadays, its popularity has spawned hundreds of pousadas and restaurants catering to all budgets. During high season, the small town is overrun with vacationers and a young Brazilian crowd drawn to the regular roster of beach parties, concentrated around Praia Parracho.