When you really want to get away from it all, this island paradise in a remote corner of Bahia State awaits. The island is officially named Tinhare, but everyone calls it Morro (“Hill”) for the main village, Morro de Sao Paulo. Once you step off the boat, or plane, you’ll find yourself in a different world.
The thing to do in Morro de Sao Paulo is relax. There are four main beaches, conveniently known as Primeira Praia (First Beach), Segunda Praia (Second Beach) and so on. The most popular is Second Beach, lined with hotels, snack shacks, restaurants, bars and outfitters offering all manner of adventures on and around the water. Fourth Beach has a scenic smattering of eateries overlooking the surf, but is less crowded.
Those in search of an even more peaceful stretch of sand can head to First Beach, lined with quiet pousadas and guesthouses, or to less developed Third Beach, with excellent snorkeling. Fifth, or “Encanto” Beach, requires a bit of effort to reach, including crossing a mangrove swamp, or hiring a boat.
For an even more remote spot to swim and tan, head to the secluded villages of Gamboa and Garapua, about half-an-hour from Morro; a handful of simple pousadas in each spot now offer visitors the opportunity to stay the night. You could also take a day trip circumnavigating the island in a small boat, or head to the even less accessible island of Boipeba.
Hiking, biking, sailing, fishing, snorkeling, diving, horseback riding and other activities can also be arranged. And after a full day in the sun, you can head back to Second Beach for some spectacular seafood and a night out in the town. The main square has a few other options for festivities, but as the moon rises, most of the action is on the beach.
Despite Morro’s relative isolation, this is a popular spot, with dozens of options for accommodation. Whether you’re looking for a plush resort-style room, relatively inexpensive pousada or anything in between, you’ll likely find it here. You can also stay in Gamboa or Boipeba, but because the selection of hotels is smaller, you’ll want to make reservations well in advance. Remember that there’s no transportation on the island; pack light, or prepare to hire a porter with a wheelbarrow to haul your bags to the hotel.
The most popular way to get here is by boat. Most travelers take the catamaran for two hours from the city of Salvador, 37 miles (60 km) northeast of Tinhare. You can also take a bus (or drive) as far as Valenca, a longer trip with a total of six hours, but involving much less time on the water. Charter flights leave daily from Salvador. It’s possible to take a day trip to Morro from Salvador, but why not stay a while?