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When the Portuguese landed on this gorgeous stretch of coastline, with its sunshine, white sandy beaches, coconut palms and bright blue water, they were pretty impressed. They chose a spectacular peninsula between a bay, which they called 'All Saints Bay', and the Atlantic to be their main port, and built Salvador de Bahia on it. So Salvador de Bahia was Brazil's first capital, and the ancient mix of cultures - coming from Europe, Africa and the Americas - which gathered here still shows. Indeed many of the best places to stay in Bahia can be found here and often reflect this cultural melée.
As well as this vibrant city, Bahia provence has plenty to offer.
- Firstly there's the near perfect weather and near perfect beaches along the 'Coconut Coast'. There are plenty of remote resorts you can stay in if these are your main reason for visiting.
- Then there's the Chapada Diamantina National Park, 375,000 acres of tropical forest, covering mountains and concealing waterfalls, natural swimming pools and caves. There's even a waterfall so high (380m) that the water never actually hits the ground - it's vaporised by the wind. You can camp in the park but there are also plenty of more luxurious accommodation options.
- In the right seasons there's important whale watching and sea turtle preservation going on, and these can be truly astonishing natural events.
Salvador da Bahia is Brazil's most African influenced city - you taste it in the food, see it in the traditions and hear it in the music. The city is often in festive spirit, with music and parties celebrating one thing or another spreading out onto the colonial streets with their wonderful 17th and 18th Century architecture.
Capoeira circles spring up in the main plazas, and you may catch glimpses of mystical Candomble ceremonies - all reminders that this was the site of the New World's first slave market. And it remains one of the strongest cultural centres of African heritage outside of Africa. Try the food, visit the markets, and go out on the water to see the real beauty of All Saints Bay.
Porto Seguro is where the Portuguese first landed. And it is the colourful history of this town, along with its reputation for fun, that draws many visitors here. The small historic centre is where you'll find all the old colonial houses.
If you're looking for a quieter stretch along this bit of coast, Arraial d'Ajuda is probably more your style. This beautiful little village was once a holiday spot for the wealthy, and its tropical greenery, large, colourful plazas with their open air restaurants and the lovely views of the even lovelier coastline are why.
Trancoso is just below Arraial d'Ajuda, and is a smaller, slightly hipper version, yet contains many of the best places to stay in Bahia. The views are just as gorgeous, the open air restaurants and bars are just as appealing, the churches and guesthouses just as picturesque - but it all feels a bit more rustic.
Our pick of the best places to stay in Bahia are an eclectic mix of rustic chic guesthouses, city living, beachside glamour and all out luxury. As with all our recommendations, if you're planning to visit during peak season, book well ahead to ensure you get the property of your dreams!
- Hotel Cocoon & Lounge is one of the best places to stay in Bahia if you want to be close to one of Salvador's top beaches. A funky, spaceship-like hotel building - it's very 60s, in a futuristic, cool way. Spare design and very reasonable prices also make this a good option if you're travelling with your family or in a group.
- Casa do Amarelindo is great for a city break in Bahia. In the bustling heart of the pretty Pelourinho district, it offers a quiet spot, a roof terrace, fantastic views. Just ten rooms, and, with no guests under 14 accepted, this is a grown up, intimate hotel.
- Convento do Carmo offers old world elegance. A convent conversion, now a sumptuous, colonial-style hotel. The gourmet restaurant means this is probably one of the best places to stay in Bahia for foodies.
Porto Seguro, Arraial d'Ajuda & Trancoso
- Uxua Casa Hotel in Trancoso, best if you're planning a luxurious beach break. Ten 'cases', or wooded villa huts, surrounded by a luscious, shady garden, plenty of privacy. Lovely pool, short stroll from the beach.
- Etnia Pousada and Boutique in Trancoso has eight rustic bungalows just a few minutes walk from the beach. Individually styled, a bit more boutique than the Uxua's casas.
- Fazenda São Francisco do Corumbau is one of the best places to stay in Bahia for whale watching. A private stretch of quiet beach and excellent amenities for scuba diving, snorkelling, fishing and other water sports. Just ten private bungalows, scattered amongst the palm trees, very family friendly.
Remote Spots on the Coconut Coast
- Txai Resort is best for the Green conscious. Slightly undeveloped, colourful and just the right blend of rustic and comfort. 40 rooms and bungalows perfect for a tropical escape. Right on the beach, but plenty of resort style facilities.
- Fazenda da Lagoa, an eco-retreat, more secluded, just fourteen cabanas of accommodation. Peace and quiet amongst the coconut groves, personalised spa treatments and a total pampering service. An ideal spot for relaxation.
Best Hotels in Bahia
Hotel Canto Das Aguas 44 rooms from $64Bahia
A rustic hotel in the town of Lincois. Charming colourful rooms and suites have stone floors, wooden beams, and splashes of art. Lovely gardens, large pool, and lots of nooks and crannies to explore. Ideal for families and those on a budget.Value chicKids Club - Fully staffed.Swimming Pool - Indoor/outdoorLocal markets - Good for local colour.
Santa Clara 12 rooms from $86Bahia
A tropical guesthouse with rustic rooms, direct beach access, and rock bottom prices. A completely unspoilt paradise for barefoot luxury and an eco experience. Excellent restaurant and massage therapies.Beach LifeValue chicSwimming Pool - Indoor/outdoorSailing - Can be booked nearby.Recommended by - I Escape, CN Traveller
Hotel Cocoon & Lounge 27 rooms from $78Salvador, Bahia
A futuristic hotel slightly off-centre, but close to one of Salvador's best beaches. This homage to space-age design is a welcome spot for families and a base for the best beach activities.Contemporary - Highly modern 'space-ship' structure.Spa - In-room treatments can be arranged.Surfing - And kite-surfing.Swimming Pool - Rooftop PoolRecommended by - I Escape, Tablet
Anima Hotel from $109Bahia
A hidden paradise under the palm groves. A collection of beach huts on stilts with charming boutique interiors and balconies. Excellent seafood restaurant, lagoon-style pool, and just set back from the beach. Excellent value, family friendly, perfect for a laid back beach break.Beach LifePrivate Hot TubSwimming Pool - Indoor/outdoorOn the beach - In front of the hotel.Recommended by - I Escape
Solar do Carmo 3 rooms from $144Salvador, Bahia
A beautiful old colonial house in a picturesque town. Boutique chic rooms have lots of space and private balconies. The perfect B&B to explore the area from and good value too.Sights nearby - Ouro Preto is a perfect example of colonial Brazilian architecture, Baroque churches.Restrictions on children - Over 14s welcome.Views - Great views from hotelSailing - Can be booked nearby.Recommended by - I Escape
Butterfly House Bahia 11 rooms from $159Maraú - BA, Bahia
Brilliant, off-the-beaten track resort. Chic shacks with modern decor a stone’s throw away from the beach. Great for a weekend nature retreat.Diving - Take a diving expedition around the nearby coastline.Birdwatching - The surrounding area is great for exotic birds.Seaside - Ideal for a seaside holiday.Remote - Off the beaten track.
Hotel Fazenda Cala e Divino 8 rooms from $162Porto Seguro, Bahia
An idyllic and remote paradise in South Bahia. This simple and chic family run hotel is situated on one of Brazil's most beautiful beaches, Espelh. Beach bungalows are dotted amongst the palm trees and overlook the exquisite beach and turquoise sea. Charming rooms, fabulous food, massage - sublimeSuites - Eight private and individually decorated bungalows with sweeping views of the beach and seaMassage - Massage is a specaility to help you unwind and totally relaxBack to Nature - Bare foot luxury and magical place for nature loversGreat walks - Guided walks and hikes can be arrangedRecommended by - Tablet
Casa do Amarelindo 10 rooms from $141Salvador, Bahia
A city refuge in central Salvador. This beautiful townhouse hotel with its stunning roof top terrace promises peace and tranquility amidst the bustling cobbled streets of the Pelourinho district.Roof terrace - Panoramic views and swimming pool.GourmetCity StyleRestrictions on children - No guests under the age of 14 years accepted.Recommended by - I Escape
Tivoli Praia do Forte Ecoresort 287 rooms from $272Bahia
A large luxury eco resort on the Salvador peninsula. Private beach, luscious gardens, eight swimming pools, extensive spa, kids club, and a choice of Mediterranean or a tapas restaurant. Perfect for beach life, families, and complete relaxation.Beach LifeFamiliesSights nearby - Alameda do Sol, Humpback Whale Institute and Sao Francisco Church.Swimming Pool - 8 pools.Recommended by - Kiwi Collection
Bahia Bonita from $229Bahia
Luxury beach cabanas just set back from the sand amongst the groves. Romantic suites have four poster beds, wooden floors and private balconies. Private beach with lots of deck chairs. Walking distance to restaurants. A perfect beach holiday for honeymooners or couples.Beach LifeSights nearby - Church of St. John the Baptist.Four poster beds - For romantics.Swimming Pool - Indoor/outdoorRecommended by - Fodors
Villas de Trancoso from $310Bahia
A fantastic beach property ideal for fun in the sun. Cabana style suites underneath the palms, white sand on your doorstep, infinity pool, fabulous seas food restaurant, and a golf course. Perfect for beach life, families, and golfers.Beach LifeSwimming Pool - Indoor/outdoorRomantic - Good for couples.Views - Great views from hotelRecommended by - I Escape, CN Traveller, Kiwi Collection
Casa do Dean from $458Arraial d'Ajuda
A Robinson Crusoe villa set back from the beach surrounded by palm trees and turquoise waters. Designer chic interiors with hints of Brazilian tradition, kitchen plus chef on request, pool, and immediate access to the beach and the surrounding tropical paradise. For families, groups of friends.Beach LifeValue chicLuxuryGroupsRecommended by - I Escape
Uxua Casa Hotel 10 rooms from $435Trancoso, Bahia
Beautiful wooden casas decorated with Brazilian art and antiques sprawl through a luscious shady garden. Barefoot luxury for couples, families, or any beach break.Private villas - 10 individual casas.Barefoot Luxury - For total relaxation.Beach LifeChicRecommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, I Escape, Tablet, Johansens, Kiwi Collection
Txai Resort 40 rooms from $479Itacare, Bahia
A little piece of paradise on Cocoa's undeveloped coast line. Rustic-chic maintains the tropical beauty of this eco-friendly resort. The turquoise ocean is the perfect backdrop to the thatched cabanas decorated with ethereal romance. Tranquil exoticism and beach life.Eco - Eco-friendly break.Spa breaksHoneymoonsBeach LifeRecommended by - I Escape, Tablet, Johansens, Kiwi Collection
Fazenda da Lagoa 14 rooms from $483Una, Bahia
A secluded eco retreat surrounded by coconut trees, rainforest, and a never ending white beach. Fourteen stunning cabanas, luxurious spa treatments, and impeccable service make this a place of total relaxation.Library - The library is packed with over a thousand English and Portugese booksPrivate villas - The hotel comprises 14 colourful cabanas.WellbeingEco breakRecommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, I Escape
Etnia Pousada and Boutique 8 rooms from $494Trancoso, Bahia
Eight rustic-chic bungalows individually decorated in ethnic style. It sits in the midst of a tranquil shady grove just minutes from the beach. A stylish beach retreat.Chic - Boho chic in one of Brazil's hippest villages.Private villas - The hotel comprises 8 themed bungalows.Beach LifeRestrictions on children - No children under the age of 14 are permitted.Recommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, I Escape, Tablet, Fodors, Johansens, Kiwi Collection
Convento do Carmo 79 rooms from $573Salvador, Bahia
One of the most fabulous hotels in Bahia. This elegant convent restoration provides luxury in style. Sumptuous rooms, gourmet cuisine, fantastic spa. For foodies, families, or those who want to indulge.Elegant - The most elegant old-world place to stay in Salvador.Swimming Pool - Lovely Outdoor PoolSpaGreat walks - Good for walkers.Recommended by - I Escape, Kiwi Collection
Kiaroa Eco-Luxury Resort 23 rooms from $613Município de Maraú, Bahia
5* eco-resort with bags of space and privacy. Suites and bungalows have dark wood furniture, romantic four poster beds and hammocks on the balconies. Outdoor pools, spa, gardens, helipad and direct beach access. Superb seafood-based cuisine, relaxed bar lounge. Secluded, barefoot opulence.Eco break - Eco meets chic in this luxurious beach resort, with abundance of outdoor pursuits and full spaSailing - Explore local islands of Coroa Vermelha & Pedra FurudaViews - Great views from hotelBarefoot Luxury - For total relaxation.Recommended by - Kiwi Collection
Fazenda São Francisco do Corumbau 10 rooms from $677Ponta do Corumbau, Bahia
The ultimate paradise. White sandy beaches and turquoise sea provide an oasis of wellbeing for this cluster of private luxury bungalows. Beautiful rooms match their beautiful surroundings at this secluded beach retreat.Remote - Gloriously remote with white sandy beaches.Total relaxationWellbeingSwimming Pool - Outdoor PoolRecommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, I Escape, Tablet, Kiwi Collection