Itacaré Guide: How to Get There, What to Do, Where to Stay & Eat

Itacaré, the surf mecca in Bahia and one of the top ecotourism destinations in Brazil, is located in the South of Bahia and only became nationally known when a tarred ecological road connecting the city to Ilhéus was opened in 1998.

Featuring cobblestone streets, an exuberant Atlantic rainforest, rivers, mangroves, waterfalls, gorgeous white sand beaches dotted with coconut trees, exquisite cuisine, and friendly locals, Itacaré is one of Brazil’s best beach towns.

I’ve been visiting Itacaré since I was a kid, as it was one of the places my family used to go on vacation, and I have very fond memories. I remember taking a bus over a bumpy gravel road, fishing crabs with my cousins and sister, enjoying the carnival and going to the beaches.

My strong connection with Itacaré has brought me to the city numerous times and it’s the reason I decided to write this guide with all the information you need to plan your visit, including what to do, how to get there, where to stay and eat, the best beaches and safety tips.

A big sign written Itacaré at Praia da Concha with the beach in the background, Itacare, Bahia, Brazil
Are you ready to explore one of the best cities in Bahia?

Planning a Trip to Itacaré, Bahia, Brazil

Where is Itacaré, Brazil?

Itacaré is located on the Cocoa Coast, South of Bahia, Brazil, 155 mi away from Salvador, Bahia’s capital (check the exact location here).

How to get to Itacaré?

The easiest way to get to Itacaré is by flying to Ilhéus. Jorge Amado Airport (IOS), the main getaway to the Cocoa Coast, is the closest airport to Itacaré, situated 47 mi away.

From Ilhéus airport you can drive to Itacaré or take a bus/cab to the bus terminal and change buses to Itacaré.

If you’re travelling from Salvador, you can take a 7-hour bus to Uruçuca and change buses to Itacaré. Alternatively, you can take a bus to Valença, Ilhéus or Itabuna. But I recommend hiring a car and driving (It will take 5h – 6h30min).

The best time to visit

Itacaré’s tropical Atlantic beaches can be enjoyed for much of the year, although you may skip the rainier months of March – July. The temperature doesn’t vary much, hovering between 23°C – 30°C all year round.

The best time to visit Itacaré is from December to February when Brazilians love to head for the beach. The city gets especially lively during New Year’s Eve and Carnival. If you prefer a quieter time, plan your visit for September – October.

The last time I visited Itacaré was in February, and I got caught up in the rain twice. It was a tropical rain though, so it didn’t last the whole day.

Aerial view over Itacare, Brazil

How many days should you stay in Itacaré?

At least three days. There are many things to do in Itacaré and if you stay less than three days you might be unable to do everything.

You can visit the urban beaches, explore Itacaré’s wild beaches, go hiking, surfing and even white-water rafting.

Where to stay in Itacaré?

There is no shortage of charming ‘pousadas’ (guesthouses) in this lovely town. Most of them are in the centre, but there are also excellent upscale hotels, including a luxury resort, in isolated areas.

During my last visit, I stayed at Pousada Burundanga and loved it. The room was very spacious, the service was excellent, and the breakfast was superb.

If you’re looking for a place to stay, my recommendations are:

The pool area of Pousada Burundunga, Itacare, Brazil
The lovely pool area of Pousada Burundunga, Itacare, Brazil

Where to eat and drink

Some of my favourite restaurants and bars in Itacaré are: Berimbau Restaurante (Passarela da Vila), Pé de Amêndoa and Tia Deth (Orla), Barraca do Bezouro (Praia do Havaizinho), Mirante Lounge Bar & Restaurante (Praia da Concha), Almirante Drinks and Squash Bar (Rua da Pituba).

Squash Bar e Pizzaria, Itacare, Bahia

Is Itacaré safe?

Generally speaking, Itacaré is a safe destination. The town has a low crime rate and is known for its laid-back atmosphere and friendly people. The locals are typically welcoming and respectful of tourists, especially international ones.

But some cautions are necessary while travelling in Brazil such as avoiding flashy items (cameras, watches, expensive jewellery, etc), walking alone in deserted areas, particularly beaches at night, always watching your belongings and booking a guide or going in as a group to the waterfalls and hikes in Itacaré.

People wearing tradtional carnival costumes and three tourists posing for a picture in Itacaré, Bahia, Brazil
Enjoying the carnival in Itacaré once again. Everyone in costume at Itacaré’s carnival had to wear a badge at all times and remove the mask after 6:00 PM for safety reasons

Best Things to Do in Itacaré, Brazil

1 – Enjoy the breathtaking beaches

Of course, one of the best things to do in Itacaré is to enjoy its gorgeous beaches!

Boasting opulent vegetation, soft white sand and warm water, Itacaré beaches are among some of the most beautiful beaches in Bahia. The town has a total of 19 beaches, including urban beaches with good infrastructure and untouched wild ones.

Whether you decide to stay on Praia da Concha, a fully organised beach in the city centre, go to Caminho das Praias, where you find a sequence of four gorgeous beaches, or head to an isolated wild beach out of town, one thing is certain, you will relax your shoulder and slow your pace instantly.

Aerial view of the urban beaches of Itacare, Brazil
Aerial view over the beaches on Caminho da Praia (Resende, Tiririca, Costa e Ribeira)

2 – Discover Jeribucaçu Beach

While in Itacaré, you should not miss Praia de Jeribucaçu, one of the best beaches in town.

To get there you need to drive towards the city exit (BA001) and take an unnamed unpaved road to Fazenda Santo Antônio Jeribucaçu. After leaving your car at one of the private parking lots, you need to follow a 25-minute trail through the rainforest.

Once you arrive you will see that all the effort was worth it. The heavenly beach is encompassed by lush greenery, has soft sand, a river running into the sea and simple infrastructure.

Spending the day at Jeribucaçu is one of the best things to do in Itacaré and I bet you will love it as much as I did.

Aerial view over the paradisiacal Praia de Jeribucaçu, Itacare, Bahia, Brazil

3 – Do the Four Beaches hike

If you’re an adventurer and want to spend the day on a desert beach, you should do the ‘Trilha das 4 Praias’.

The 2.8-mile-long trail connects Itacarezinho (‘Little Itacaré’), Camboinha, Havaizinho (‘Little Hawaii’) and Engenhoca, some of the most isolated and picturesque beaches of Itacaré.

The start point of the hike is on Rodovia Ilhéus – Itacaré (BA001), you will see the signs on the road, and you can start either at Itacarezinho or Engenhoca (the latter is the best option if you intend to do the whole hike). The forest trail is well-marked and suitable for all ages, but some parts can be a bit challenging.

You can spend some time at Itacarezinho, the true image of the Brazilian tropical beaches you dreamed of, take a nap underneath a coconut tree at the paradisiacal Praia da Camboinha, try the fish in banana leaves on Havaizinho e relax in the little river at Engenhoca.

4 – Watch the sunset from Ponta do Xaréu

Watching the sunset in Itacaré is very popular among locals and tourists alike.

The most famous spot to watch the sunset is Xaréu’s Viewpoint, a stone cliff located between Praia da Concha e Coroinha.

Every afternoon dozens of people gather on this hill to enjoy this golden moment. There’s a very nice bar and lounge where you can have some drinks while admiring the view.

5 – Do water sports

While on the beach, what about doing some water sports? With miles of coastlines and a river, there are no excuses to engage in some water activities in Itacaré.

You can go swimming, surfing, rent a kayak or a Stand-up paddle board. But the most popular water activity in town is the Hawaiian canoe, which can be practised on the Contas River and mangroves or in the ocean.

If you want to do water sports while in Itacaré, head to Praia da Concha, which has the perfect sea conditions and where most of the tour companies are.

Praia da Concha, Itacare, Bahia, Brazil
Praia da Concha, Itacaré

6 – Take some surf lessons

Surfing is one of the best things to do in Itacare. Because of its great and consistent waves, the town is one of the top surfing destinations in Brazil and has held many surfing competitions.

If you don’t know how to surf, here’s a golden opportunity to spend your vacation surfing on paradisiacal beaches surrounded by the Atlantic Forest. 

You can find some surfing schools in the centre, such as Easy Drop and The Surf’s Cool, at Jeribucaçu and Praia da Tiririca (Pipe Surf School and Brother’s Surf School), one the best beaches in Itacaré for surfing.

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7 – Eat plenty of ‘Comida Baiana’

The food in Bahia is amazing!

I’m saying that not only because it’s my home state, but because it’s very rich and has plenty of African, Portuguese, and indigenous influences.

When you’re in Itacaré you must try Moqueca, an extraordinary stew made with coconut and palm oil, and served with rice, pirão and farofa (both made with cassava flour), and acarajé, a fried crispy cake made with beans and onions.

You should try also some fruits, such as cacau, umbu, cajá, acerola, cupuaçu and açaí.

Moqueca de siri served at Restaurante Berimbau, Itacare, Brazil
This ‘Moqueca de Siri’ (Crab stew) served at Berimbau Restaurant was fantastic!

8 – Sip one or two exotic caipirinhas

You might be familiar with caipirinha, the Brazilian world-famous cocktail made with lime and cachaça (“Brazilian rum”).

In Itacaré you will not only find the classic one but also caipirinhas and caipiroscas (with vodka instead of cachaça) made with exotic local fruits served on a cocoa shell.

The best caipirinhas you find at Almirante Drinks on Pituba Street. They have a wide selection of flavours, and my recommendation is to try the cacau and graviola (soursop) or cupuaçu, cajú and abricó da mata. They are sweetened with cocoa honey and are very exquisite.

Almirante Drinks, Itacaré, Bahia, Brasil

9 – Enjoy the lively nightlife

If you’re looking for things to do in Itacaré at night, you won’t be disappointed! The town has a busy nightlife, and you can grab some drinks while dancing the night away listening to DJs or live music.

The hottest nightlife spot in Itacaré is Rua da Pituba, a pedestrian-only cobbled street that boasts many restaurants and bars with live music, such as Squash Bar e Pizzaria and Espaço Aberto.

Some people walking on Pituba Street at night, Itacare, Brazil
Rua da Pituba

Other places that are worth checking out are the lovely Passarela da Vila, another pedestrianised street with bars and restaurants, and the “Orla”, the seafront promenade that holds many important events in Itacaré, including the NYE and the carnival.

Passarela da Vila, Itacaré, Bahia, Brazil
Passarela da Vila

10 – Treat yourself to a beach club

Do you want to upgrade your beach experience in Itacaré? If you answer “Yes, please”, you should go to a beach club.

The town has three lovely beach bars: Echo Beach Club, São José Beach Club and Itacarezinho Beach & Lounge.

Framed by coconut trees and boasting a fantastic infrastructure with two swimming pools and an excellent restaurant, São José is undoubtedly the best option. It’s located on a horseshoe-shaped beach with natural pools and a small river on the outskirts of Itacaré.

Pericles Rosa wearing a beige hat, sunglasses and blue shorts on a lounge chair at Itacarezinho Beach and Lounge, Itacare, Bahia, Brazil
Itacarezinho Beach & Lounge is also very nice!

11 – Cool down on a waterfall

If you want to cool down in the refreshing waters of a waterfall during your trip, you might be pleased to hear that there are about five waterfalls, in and around Itacaré, that you can visit: Cachoeira da Usina, Cachoeira Bom Sossego, Cachoeira do Cleandro and Cachoeira de Tijuípe (the last two are located on private properties and a fee must be paid.)

If you want to pick one, I recommend Cachoeira de Tijuípe, located on Rodovia Ilhéus-Itacaré, 23 km (14.3 mi) away from the city centre. It has great infrastructure with a restaurant and outside tables, hiking trails, and kayaking tours.

Cachoeira de Tijuípe, Itacare, Bahia, Brazil
Cachoeira de Tijuípe

12 – Go on a white-water rafting experience

Do you want to spice up your Itacaré trip? What about going on a white-water rafting experience?

De Contas River, which flows into the sea in Itacaré, is considered one of the best rivers in Brazil for rafting. The 1.8 km route features five rapids, graded 3 and 4, and it’s filled with fun and excitement.

Going on a white-water rafting experience is one of the best things to do in Itacaré for adrenaline junkies. Don’t miss it! You can book your tour online or with a local travel agency.  It costs R$ 160 (US$ 32).

People on a boat doing a white-water rafting on Rio de Contas, Taboquinhas, Bahia, Brazil
Photo credit: Paraíso Turismo

13 – Visit a cocoa farm

Located on the Cocoa Coast, Itacaré is enveloped by the little remains of the ‘Mata Atlântica’, an Atlantic rain forest that once stretched up and down Brazil’s coastline.

The Atlantic Forest in the South of Bahia survived mostly because of the cocoa plantations (cocoa needs to be under forest trees to protect it from direct light), as this region was the largest cocoa producer in the world in the 1920s.

Despite the crisis and years of abandonment of many farms due to the plague, there are still cocoa farms in this region, and you can visit some of them, such as Fazenda Vila Rosa and Fazenda Santa Ana.

Visit a cocoa farm is not only an opportunity to learn more about the fruit that shaped this society and how the chocolate is produced but also to taste one of the best chocolates in the world.

Fazenda Vila Rosa, Taboquinhas, Bahia, Brazil
Photo credit: Fazenda Vila Rosa

14 – Watch a ‘Roda de capoeira’

Strong links to Western Africa are evident throughout Bahia, from the African-derived samba to the cuisine and the development of the martial art of capoeira by African slaves.

If you have never seen people playing capoeira, a mix of fight and game with elements of dance, acrobatics, and music, don’t miss out while in Itacaré.

It’s common to see a ‘Roda de Capoeira’ (people playing capoeira) on Passarela da Vila and public squares, particularly on festivities dates. But you can also head to a Capoeira School, Tribo Bahia and Filhos de Zumbi, to watch a capoeira class and listen to its infectious music.

15 – Go on a canopy tour adventure

If you haven’t taken a canopy tour yet, why not do it in Itacaré?

Conduru Arvorismo provides exhilarating zipline, rappel and treetop walk experiences amidst spectacular natural settings across Praia da Ribeira.

It consists of a network of suspended trails interconnected in the forest canopy with diverse difficulty levels and many activities. You will learn interesting features about the forest ecology, walk on treetops, find rope nests, cross bridges and fly over the beautiful Ribeira Beach.

Taking a canopy tour is one of the best things to do in Itacaré for children and adults alike.

A man zip lining over Ribeira Beach, Itacare, Bahia, Brazil

This is my Itacaré guide and I hope this post will help you to plan your trip.

After your visit, you will understand why it’s one of my favourite resort towns in Brazil.

Safe travels and have fun in Bahia.

I always recommend that you buy travel insurance! It can literally be your lifeline if something happens to you, or your luggage is lost or stolen.

Itacaré Guide: How to Get There, What to Do, Where to Stay & Eat 1

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