Tourist Spots and Islands of the Baía de todos os Santos

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Map of Todos os Santos Bay
Map of TBaía de todos os Santos

Baía de Todos os Santos is the largest bay in Brazil in territorial extension 1052 km² and also in cultural diversity, handicrafts, history, colonial architecture (churches, fortresses, beautiful colonial manors and farmhouses) and ecosystems rich in beautiful landscapes, biodiversity such as mangroves, remaining Atlantic Forest, coconut groves, banana plantations and coral reefs where the mouth of the Paraguaçu, Jaguaripe, Subaé Rivers and numerous streams that flow into the waters of the Atlantic Ocean are present.

This scenery is home to several environmental works such as those of the NGOs Instituto Mamíferos Aquáticos and ABCRN and gave rise through State Decree 7595 (1999) to the Environmental Protection Area (APA) of Baía de Todos os Santos.

Its main boundaries are: Porto da Barra in the north (in the city of Salvador) and Ponta do Garcês in the extreme south (municipality of Jaguaripe) and its area provides several options for leisure such as tourism in its islands and paradisiacal beaches of calm and crystalline waters or the practice of nautical sports such as diving that glimpses coral reefs and wrecks of ships and galleons wrecked along the Brazilian colonization where a great variety of marine life is found in underwater scenarios with depths between 12 and 45 meters and visibility between 10 and 20 meters.

The archipelago of Baía de Todos os Santos is formed by 56 tropical islands where the islands of Itaparica (the largest maritime island in Brazil), Madre Deus, Maré, Frades, Medo, Bom Jesus dos Passos, Vacas, Maria Guarda, Cajaíba, Cal, São Gonçalo and Matarandiba stand out, being the use of private boats or schooners the main means of transportation to access these islands.

Video about the Baía de todos os Santos

Tourist Spots and Islands of the Baía de todos os Santos

Several nautical events take place during the high season such as the Aratu / Maragogipe regattas, the Bahian Windsurfing Championship and the Mar Grande / Salvador Crossing, an open sea swimming competition.

1. Bom Jesus dos Passos

Bom Jesus dos Passos in Todos os Santos Bay
Bom Jesus dos Passos in Todos os Santos Bay

It is accessed by boat and is located between the islands of Madre de Deus and Frades. The arrival by boat offers a beautiful view with the mooring point and the church of Bom Jesus dos Passos.

It is worth disembarking to walk in the quiet streets, where the population lives basically from fishing and carpentry.

It is interesting to visit the Duarte manor house, the fountains of Rua, Porrãozinho and Grande, and the Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Conceição.

The island offers 2 beaches suitable for bathing: Padre and Pontinha.

2. Bimbarras Island

Ilha de Bimbarras na Baía de Todos os Santos
Ilha de Bimbarras na Baía de Todos os Santos

Its access is only through boats being 17 nautical miles away from Salvador, and is consolidating the implementation of a nautical tourism project in the Bay of Todos os Santos.

The Bimbarras Island project is an example of Atlantic Forest preservation, based on the principle of balance existing in every ecosystem, where man must not only occupy it rationally, but recover and preserve it.

This project is characterized by its self-sustainability, encompassing a set of activities linked to low-density tourism, associated with the operation of a fully productive farm in the center of the island, with livestock, cultivation of tropical fruit trees and mariculture.

3. Ilha de Madre de Deus

Madre de Deus in the Bay of All Saints
Madre de Deus in the Bay of All Saints

It can be reached by boat (private schooners), by car or by bus from the Bus Terminal of Salvador from where it is 70 km away. It is a municipality of great importance, due to the existence of the Petrobras maritime terminal.

Maria Guarda Island and Suape beach are part of the municipality. Noteworthy are the buildings on the top of the Matriz, the houses of Pedro Gomes and Laudelino Pinheiro, and on the beach of Suape the House of the Two Lions and that of Antonio Balbino all from the mid-nineteenth century, as well as the Mother Church of Our Lady Mother of God.

4. Ilha dos Frades

Ilha dos Frades in Todos os Santos Bay
Ilha dos Frades in Todos os Santos Bay

Considered an ecological reserve since 1982, Ilha dos Frades occupies an area of approximately 1,335 hectares, has the shape of a 15-pointed star and features beautiful beaches, coconut groves, lakes, waterfalls and a typical vegetation of the Atlantic Forest, with the existence of native trees, including the brazilwood.

Located a little more than 20 km away from Salvador, the municipality of which it is part, the island has a rich architectural heritage, with churches and mills from the colonial period standing out, which are notable elements of historical, cultural and architectural value, such as the ruins of the Church of Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe, built in the 17th century, the Church of Our Lady of Loreto from the 18th century, the Church of Our Lady of Good Delivery, the Lighthouse, located on the hill behind Ponta de Nossa Senhora Beach, the ruins of a lazaret, the ruins of a warehouse, where slaves were quarantined, the ruins of a warehouse, where slaves were placed to fatten up before being sold and the ruins of a flour house.

The Ilha dos Frades can be accessed from the city of Salvador in the direction of Ponta de Nossa Senhora or from the city of Madre de Deus where boats dock at the localities of Paramana, Caeira, Praia da Costa, and Ponta de Nossa Senhora.

Nautical and recreational tourism is very popular on the Ilhas dos Frades thanks to its quiet beaches, providing the practice of diving and water sports along with contemplative ecotourism tours aboard boats and sloops around the island. It is possible to walk around the whole island at low tide.

Paramana Beach is also located in the central part of the island and features a stretch of Atlantic Forest with lakes and waterfalls. It has a small village, known by the same name, with houses of native fishermen and vacationers. Excellent beach for fishing, diving and other water sports, it presents, at low tide, natural pools, due to the presence of reefs.

Ponta de Nossa Senhora Beach is located in the north of the island, between Outeiro dos Carneiros and Morro de Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe. It is one of the most popular beaches, for its calm, warm and crystal clear waters, excellent for swimming, fishing, diving and other water sports.

It also has beach huts, which guarantee the comfort of tourists, serving seafood and fish, as well as providing showers for freshwater bathing. Only 45 people live in the village of Ponta de Nossa Senhora.

5. Ilha de Itaparica

Ilha de Itaparica na Baía de Todos os Santos
Ilha de Itaparica in Baía de Todos os Santos

Access is also through state highways around the island or can be done by schooners (private boats), tours that are very popular and have as destinations the islands of the Bay.

On the side of the island facing the ocean, there is a formation of a large coral barrier, which gave rise to its name: Itaparica from the Tupi “fence made of stones”. This barrier, with an extension of 15 km, makes the beaches on this side calm waters, with few waves and with the formation of natural pools suitable for swimming and diving. The western part of the island, facing the mainland, is a region of mangroves, small fishing villages and private islands.

The southwestern part, where Cacha-Prego beach is located in front of Ponta do Garcês, is bathed by the Itaparica Channel, and is the boundary between the island and the mainland, sheltering large areas of mangrove in good condition.

This region is known as “Pantanal Baiano”, for being a true ecological sanctuary, cut by rivers, canals and mangroves, and supports a large fauna, with emphasis on the presence of armadillos, pacas, wolves and anteaters. Boats can be chartered for a tour of the region.

The island of Itaparica was emancipated from Salvador on August 8, 1833 and elevated to a city on July 30, 1962, then it was dismembered to have 2 municipalities: Itaparica and Vera Cruz. Itaparica is formed by the villages of Porto Santo, Manguinhos, Amoreiras and Ponta de Areia (very visited beach).

In the village of Itaparica, it is possible to visit some historic buildings, such as the Solar da Praça da Piedade, built in the 18th century, the church of São Lourenço, built in 1610 and the Fortaleza de São Lourenço, built in 1711, as well as the Fonte da Bica Park with a mineral water source considered one of the best in the country.

Vera Cruz is formed by the villages of Penha, Barra Gil, Coroa, Barra do Pote, Conceição, Barra Grande, Tairu, Aratuba, Berlinque, Cacha-Prego and Mar Grande the municipal headquarters.

The municipality of Vera Cruz concentrates a large number of hotels, inns, bars and restaurants. There are also fishing villages and vacationers scattered along the waterfront. The municipality also offers perfect conditions for the practice of ecotourism and adventure tourism, with emphasis on nautical and aerial sports (parachuting).

6. Ilha de Maré

Ilha da Maré na Baía de Todos os Santos
Ilha da Maré na Baía de Todos os Santos


Opposite the mouth of the Cotegipe River and Aratu Bay lies the third largest island in Todos os Santos Bay: Ilha de Maré is home to the festive black Nagô community and bobbin lace makers.

Located just 20 minutes from Salvador, its main access is through the São Tomé do Paripe Maritime Terminal, from where boats leave every hour from 8am to 6pm.

Rich in vegetation and stunning scenery, the island is made up of small villages, with native fishermen’s houses and vacationers by the sea. Sitting outside the houses, you can find the lace makers, making pieces in bobbin lace. These are tablecloths, gowns, blouses and other accessories made by hand with the help of wooden utensils. This handicraft is passed down from mother to daughter for many generations and began in Italy. The lace can be found at fairs or in the homes of the artisans.

The Chapel of Nossa Senhora das Neves, built in the 16th century in colonial style, is situated on Praia das Neves, a building with singular architectural beauty. The sea of the Neves Basin is very calm and suitable for diving and other types of nautical sports.

Praia do Botelho, also known as Oratório de Maré, offers a beautiful panoramic view of Baía de Todos os Santos. It is constant the presence of private and tourist schooners, which depart from Salvador to a restaurant with private mooring, which operates on site. This beach is practically deserted, bordered by woods and coconut trees. It has transparent, calm and warm waters and is suitable for swimming and diving.

7. Matarandiba Island

It is accessed by boat and is located near Ponta do Funil, which connects the island to the mainland. It faces the Tororó waterfall, in Itaparica, with access only by sea. It is a mandatory stop for yachtsmen and sailors who sail on the back coast of Itaparica.

8. Ilha do Medo

The island of Medo is one of the smallest in the Bay of Todos os Santos, with a surface area of 12,000 m² and belongs to the municipality of Itaparica. This island is uninhabited until today because it has no source of fresh water. In the last century it housed military installations (a barracks) and a hospital for lepers (leprosarium). Today parts of the ruins can be seen on site.

It is the first Ecological Station of the Bay of All Saints and its predominant vegetation is the restinga with exuberant forest of mangrove trees. The island is shrouded in mysteries and legends.

The ancients say that the place was so named because it was haunted after housing the leprosarium where terminal leprosy and cholera patients were taken. Another legend has it that the priest of the district of Itaparica was paid money to celebrate a mass and did not do so. After his death, his soul took up residence on the island and invited fishermen who passed by to attend the celebration of Mass.

9. Jaguaripe

Jaguaripe in Todos os Santos Bay
Jaguaripe in Todos os Santos Bay

The city of Jaguaripe with its name of Tupi origin meaning “river of the jaguar” is surrounded by extensive mangroves and situated between the Jaguaripe River and the Dona River. In Jaguaripe leisure is guaranteed through the practice of sports such as surfing on beautiful beaches with strong waves, ecotourism in adventures on trails in its extensive vegetation of Atlantic Forest and tours in places with very similar cultural and historical character.

The city’s port is capable of receiving medium-sized vessels and its main attraction is an ecological sanctuary, with sandy beaches and creeks.

Its architectural context is very interesting. There is an old nucleus that was connected by underground tunnels that served as a shelter for the population against Indian attacks and the House of the Chamber and the famous Public Prison that went down in history for the morbid “Prison of Salt” stand out.

Situated below the river level, it was frequently flooded by high tide where its “surviving” prisoners were forced to float to stay alive, the Casa do Ouvidor, from the 17th century; the Matriz de Nossa Senhora da Ajuda, from the early 18th century and the Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosário, from the late 18th century.

The city is small: the religious buildings are located in the upper part, while the civilian ones, near the port, in the lower part of the city.

10. Ponta do Garcez (Garcez Beach)

Ponta dos Garcez e Cacha Pregos
Ponta dos Garcez e Cacha Pregos

Located in the municipality of Jaguaripe and bordering the Bay of All Saints to the south, Ponta do Garcês has 20 km of deserted beaches with vast coconut groves from the Ponta to the mouth of the Jiquiriçá River.

At Ponta do Garcez, the attractions vary between the Garcez Lagoon, the mouth of the Jaguaripe River and the sandbanks of Barra Falsa – between Cacha-Pregos (Municipality of Vera Cruz) and Ponta do Garcez – which emerge at low tide, providing an unusual adventure: swimming in the “mouth of the bar”.

These sandbanks are used between September and March, during the night, as a resting point for about 30,000 terns of the species Sterna hirundo and S. dougali (endangered), which migrate from their breeding sites in the northern hemisphere (Europe, Caribbean, United States and Canada).

There are also species of blue, red and yellow bromeliads in its forests, as well as rare species of maned wolf and bush pig.

Access to Ponta do Garcês is by boat or schooner, from the port of Jaguaripe, 11 km away, or from the port of Cacha-Pregos on the island of Itaparica, 2 km away.

11. Maragogipinho

The District of Maragogipinho, near the city of Nazaré das Farinhas, in the State of Bahia, has as its main economic activity the work with clay. It is considered the largest center of production of handmade ceramics in Bahia and some claim to be one of the largest poles of handmade ceramics in Latin America.

It is located three hours from Salvador (by car, passing through Itaparica Island, via ferry boat), about 230 km approximately.

Its ceramics are produced in about 60 workshops, all very rustic, made on a manual lathe and baked in an oven, also handmade.

The skill of the potters is impressive. Each one can make between 700 and 1,200 caxixis in a day. Caxixis are miniature clay pots, spoons and animals originally intended for playful purposes: games and toys.

The craftsmen use crude tools to shape, decorate and fire pots, jars, vases, plates, bowls, jugs, sculptures, objects, saints, totaling thousands of pieces every month, objects that show clear indigenous and Portuguese influences in their form.

The first potteries in the area, located on the banks of the Jaguaripe River, were built by the Jesuit Fathers about 300 years ago. Since then, the knowledge of the activity has been passed down from parents to children.

12. Nazaré “das Farinhas”

Nazaré na Baía de Todos os Santos
Nazaré in the Bay of All Saints

The city of Nazaré on the banks of the Jaguaripe River, famous for the Feira dos Caxixis and the copioba flour produced in the region. Important commercial warehouse became known as Nazaré das Farinhas because of the intense production and marketing of flour in the region, where it specialized as a “farinheiro” port in the 19th century.

The manioc flour produced with the same indigenous technique, served to supply the fleet and was widely used by the producing municipalities for the payment of contributions to the Metropolis.

The Caxixis Fair is held annually during Holy Week. This centuries-old tradition brings thousands of visitors to the city from Thursday. Alongside the event, there is a staging of the Passion of Christ and musical shows.

See the map of Baía de Todos os Santos

Baía de Todos os Santos Tourism and Travel Guide – Bahia Salvador Tourism and Travel Guide

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