Monday, October 20, 2014

Brazil's Maraú: Get a Taste of Paradise Before Civilization Discovers It

Did you know that Polynesia is not only in Oceania but also in Brazil? Did you know that in Bahia you can find lakes, rivers, beaches, forests, islands and all the beauties of the nature in just one place? Welcome to Maraú, one of the most beautiful places in Brazil. And, what is even better, not so well known even in Brazil.

The peninsula of Maraú is more a micro-region than a city. It spans from Ponta do Mutá in Barra Grande to Maraú, many kilometers further South of this peninsula.

What is special about this place? The variety, the diversity of the nature, which makes it a real paradise, a dream place to be.

If you arrive in Barra Grande (the extreme part of the Maraú peninsula) and you look at the beaches and think "OK they look good but nothing special," you are right.

But then, when you visit the islands surrounding the peninsula, Maraú starts to reveal its beauties. Over 40 islands are in the bay of Camamu, one of the three natural bays of Brazil (the other two are Guanabara Bay in Rio and the Bay of All saints in Salvador).

But Camamu Bay, differently from the previous two bays, is not polluted; the water is clean, pleasant and beautiful. The sea is calm, relaxing and in Barra Grande the beach is ideal for babies and children because the sea in front of the beach is not deep and offers no danger to children.
Then if you speak to the fishermen you can buy fish just taken from the sea, something rare in today's world of plastics.

Back to the Islands surrounding the peninsula you can visit the Pedra Furada (Holed Stone) Island where the stones on the beach are full of holes because of an insect that makes small holes in the stones. There is also a small statue of the Virgin Mary, which the sailors believe can make miracles and is always visited by the travelers.
But how do you get there? This is the good and the bad thing about Maraú. Good thing because the access is so difficult that discourages many tourists, especially foreigners. You have to fly to Salvador de Bahia or Ilhéus and then catch the bus to Camamu (2 and half hours from Ilhéus) and then get the boat to Barra Grande. Bad thing because the boat does not have an official timetable. Basically the boat lives when the sailor decides to live.

Where to stay in Barra Grande? Stay at the hotel Mediterrâneo, just in front of the historical harbor. The landscape is beautiful there. The place is clean, very central and the sunset is unforgettable. People are very friendly and the Italian restaurant offers fish food of high quality. I have to admit: when I lay down in the hammock, just in front of the calm sea, with a grilled fish in one hand I remember that life is something to enjoy and forget the stress.

And from the harbor you can catch the boat to visit the islands.
Ideally the best period of the year to visit Barra Grande is the low season when the crowds are few and you can visit the islands relaxing and going around without many people around.

Close to Ilha da Pedra Furada there is a small beach just in the middle of the sea. There is a surreal atmosphere there as the sea enters the beach very smoothly and you can lay down with your head in the water with open arms and even sleep wondering why you have to go back and work in the office.

Ilha do Tatu is the best island. Completely inhabited the island would make you believe you are Robinson Crusoe. Going around the wild island is an unforgettable experience. Do you want to feel primitive and experience the natural instincts of what we were before being civilized? Go there and you will have it.
Are you hungry now? Where is the best price to quality restaurant in the area? In Camamu just before getting the boat to Barra Grande stop by at Restaurante Art's Sabores in front of Mercado de Artesanato.

The restaurant is specialized on seafood and run by the experienced Romario in a family environment. But if you like meat for 60 reais (30 dollars) a family of 4 can overstuff itself with excellent picanha, potatoes and rice served on a smoky iron plate.

But wait. Do not live Maraú without visiting Taipu de Fora, where you find some of the best natural swimming-pools in the world.

The way to get there from Barra Grande is rough. The road is awful. But once you get there you have to stay until late afternoon when the sea becomes green and the natural swimming-pools become visible. At that point you have an unbelievable landscape and you can swim in paradise.

But be aware: the place where you avoid the stones, which can cut your feet, are after few meters from the main entrance to the beach. The more you go the more you find stones which can spoil your trip there.
But this is just the basic stuff of the trip in Maraú. The longer you stay the more you find places you would never believe exist.

Are you wondering why you still have not moved there? Because here the time stopped but also the organization of tourism is not very well up to the standards.

Maraú, the municipality lacks of funds and Barra Grande is a bit forgotten by the local government. This is reflected by the slow ferryboat service offered to incoming tourists. The lack of infrastructure can be a problem for the tourist accustomed to all the comforts of today's world.
But do you know what? If the ferry worked perfectly, if the islands were very accessible and, above all, if people had discovered this place in the low season, the peace and rest would never be there.

This is the last paradise left and go there before the civilization discovers it.

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