Morro de Sao Paulo (Saint Paul’s Hill), or just Morro, is an island located in the south of Bahia, 60 Km of the capital, Salvador.
The island is part of the Tinharé Archipelago, which is composed of 26 islands and was discovered in 1531 by the Portuguese navigator Martim Afonso de Sousa.
During the 1970s, the fishing village was still very undeveloped and it did not have electricity 24 hours a day, which only came in 1985.
Since then, Morro de Sao Paulo has been discovered by tourists, starting with hippies and backpackers who spread the word and vacationers from nearby towns who visit the island to explore its gorgeous beaches with clear and warm water surrounded by opulent Atlantic forest.
Nowadays Morro is full of foreigners, especially Israeli and Argentinians, who come to enjoy this so-called “Tropical Paradise”.
I visited the island in February of 2016 and liked it a lot!
In this practical guide, updated for 2021, there’s everything you need to know to plan a trip to Morro de São Paulo, including things to do, best beaches, how to get there, where to stay/eat and tours.
7 Best Things to Do in Morro de São Paulo
1 – Wander around the village
Morro de Sao Paulo was founded in 1535 by Francisco Romero and suffered numerous attacks by Dutch and French ships during colonial times because of its importance as a supply chain to the capital Salvador.
The village has a fortress and walls that were completed in 1728, the largest water supply system of colonial Bahia, Fonte Grande, constructed in 1746, and also a lighthouse built in 1855.
One of the best things to do in Morro de Sao Paulo is wandering around the village, that today boasts restaurants, bars, stores, and hotels.
Even though the village has changed with tourism it still preserves some old landmarks and is quite charming.
2 – Explore the beaches
One of my favorite things to do in Morro de São Paulo is beach exploring.
The beaches are in numerical order, have crystal-clear warm water and some of them are surrounded by lush vegetation.
It’s the closest beach to the village, with some natural pools, hotels and restaurants.
I felt like I was in the “middle of the city” on this beach, because there’re some constructions in the background.
The busiest beach with lots of restaurants, cafes, hotels and parties.
Everyone gathers here whether during the day to enjoy the pools or practice sports or at night to enjoy live music and beach luaus.
You can practice SUP and even play footvolley with locals.
It’s the most family-oriented beach on the island, so you can expect some children playing around and plenty of water sports.
- SUP: R$ 30 (US$ 5.50) for 30min.
- Kayaking: R$ 20 (US$ 5) for 30min.
- Contact: Moleke Surf School
From the third beach, everything starts to calm down, with fewer people, less construction and fine accommodations.
This beach has huge pools and it’s very beautiful.
It’s also nice to practice kayaking, SUP, snorkelling and there’s an island close by where you can go diving.
- SUP: R$ 50 (US$ 10) for one hour.
- Kayak + snorkelling: RS 30 (US$ 4) per person for one and half hours to an island close by.
- Dive: RS 150 (US$ 30) per tank at Ilha do Caetá (an island close by).
- Contact: Zimbo Dive Tour.
The best beach in Morro de Sao Paulo!
It’s is very long, 4 km (2.5mi) and perfect for someone who prefers quiet areas.
The water is very warm like all the others and there’re many natural pools.
The best thing is that the only part with construction is the beginning and after that just lush vegetation and few kiosks.
This is one of the most beautiful beaches in Bahia and you can easily spend a full day here, swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing and resting in the shade of the trees.
- Snorkeling: R$ 20 (US$ 4), unlimited time.
- Horseback ride for R$ 60 (US$ 12) per hour.
- Carriage to the fifth beach, R$ 40 (US$ 8) per person.
Fifth beach(Praia do Encanto)
A very exotic beach dotted with many mangrove and dead trees. Because of its remote location, around 10 Km (6.2 mi) from the village, it’s basically empty.
It’s a long walk to get there, but the visit is totally worthwhile.
This beach looks very different from the others.
Just be aware of the tide and that there’re very few kiosks (one or two).
- Book your tour to the Enchanted Beach here. You’ll go kayaking, hiking, and horseback riding on this incredible outdoor adventure.
3 – Go Zip-lining
Morro de Sao Paulo has the highest zip-line in South America, 70m (230 ft.) height and 300m (0.2mi) long.
If you want to seek out an adrenaline rush while on the island you should definitely do it.
The price is very reasonable, R$ 60 (US$ 12), and it provides an awesome view!
It’s open from 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM and you can get more information on its Facebook page.
4 – Watch the sunset
Watch the sunset in Morro is very popular among locals and tourists alike.
The most famous spot to watch the sunset is the lighthouse and every afternoon dozens of people gather on its hills to enjoy this golden moment.
5 – Dance the night away
Morro is also known for its parties and attracts many youngsters because of that.
The most frequented parties are:
Every Monday and Thursday after midnight on the Second Beach.
During the high season, numerous people attend the luaus and everyone is on the beach dancing, drinking caipirinhas and making friends. Smoking weed is also common in those parties.
Teatro do Morro (The theater)
The most traditional party on the island happens on a hill in the middle of the jungle, every Wednesday and Saturday.
Besides food and drinks, Teatro do Morro also offers a big variety of shows like live music, DJs, cinema, poetry, capoeira and fire acrobats.
It starts at 9:00 PM and goes all night long.
Toca do Morcego
One of the busiest clubs in the village with parties every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday during the high season (Fridays and Sundays in low season).
This club has a very privileged location, on a cliff-side, and provides stunning vistas. Because of that, Toca do Morcego also has Sunset parties with DJ, live music and the restaurant is also open at this time.
Located at the Iate Clube, Mama África, one of the coolest clubs on the island, hosts sunset parties on the weekends with DJs that goes until midnight.
Pulsar Disco Club
It’s open every Saturday and hosts different thematic parties. The most popular ones are the Fantasy Fest, Foam Party, Flashback and Kriptonita.
There’s also live music.
PS.:Pulsar Disco Club is currently closed because of the pandemic.
6 – Explore the Tinharé Archipelago by boat
One of the most popular and best things to do in Morro de São Paulo is to take the “Around the island” tour.
You’ll visit Boipeba (Moreré natural pools, Cueira and Boca da Barra beaches), Canavieira (a boat parked in the middle of the river that serves fresh oysters) and some historical landmarks in the city of Cairu.
The tour departs at 9:30 AM and returns at 5:00 PM.
Price: R$ 180 (US$ 35).
Other tours that I also recommend are:
Garapuá: visiting Garapuá Beach, considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the Tinharé Archipelago, and its natural pools.
The tour starts by Land rover driving through the “Ecologic road”, followed by a boat to the pools.
From 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM (it depends on the tide). Price: R$ 100 (US$ 20)
Fonte do Céu hike: a hike through an ecological trail to visit a waterfall and Gamboa. It takes around 1h30min and costs R$ 50 (US$ 10).
Morro Adventure: ATV tour from a Morro to Boipeba and the beaches of Garapuá and Pratigi. R$ 400 (US$ 80) of two people.
Contact: Ney Assunção, Agência Miranda Tur, +55(75)9186-7985 (WhatsApp)
7 – Visit the nearby village of Gamboa
Gamboa is a fishing village near Morro de Sao Paulo. The infrastructure is completely different, very simple and primitive.
It’s a good option for those who prefers a more authentic experience.
The beaches are nice and the hot spot is by the cliffs where you can submerge yourself in a pink mud rich in sulphur and medicinal properties that make your skin very soft.
Because of its proximity to Morro, it’s very common for people to spend the day there, and during the summer there’re also night parties.
You can visit Gamboa by yourself, whether walking by the beach (from 30min to 1h), only at low tide; taking a boat that costs R$ 7 (around US$ 1.35) and takes 15min; or booking a tour.
There’re also some hotels and restaurants in the village and beach kiosks.
These are the seven best things to do in Morro de Sao Paulo and my suggestion is to spend at least 3 full days on the island.
After your visit you will understand why it’s enchanted so many people.
Safe travels and have fun in Bahia.
- Exploring Bahia Region, Brazil
- Restaurants and Hotels in Boipeba
- Bahia South Coast in 20 Striking Pictures
Don’t forget to save these pins for later 😉
Don’t forget to buy travel insurance, which can literally be your lifeline if something happens to you and if your luggage is lost or stolen.
I always use World Nomads Travel Insurance for independent travelers. It’s easy to buy, extend & claim online, even after you’ve left home.
Get your travel insurance here.
Visiting Morro de Sao Paulo
Where is it located?
Morro de Sao Paulo is an island located in the south of Bahia, 60 Km of Salvador, Bahia’s capital (check the exact location here).
How to get to Morro de Sao Paulo?
There are only two ways to get to Morro de Sao Paulo:
∗ From Salvador
You can take a ferry/speed boat to Morro de São Paulo. It departs at 9:00 AM and 14:30 PM and returns at 11:30 AM and 15:00 PM.
Book your ticket online in advance here.
If you prefer, you can book a transfer here. During the pandemic, the departure time is at 7:30 AM and 12:25 PM. Returning at 9:30 AM and 3:30 PM.
∗ From Valença, the closest city to Morro
You can go by the conventional way (boat + bus); it departs 6:00, 6:30, 7:00 AM, after that every hour during the low season and every 30min during the high season, until 6:20 PM.
Prices: R$ 12 (US$ 2.40), from Mondays do Saturdays; R$ 13.5 (US$ 2.70), on Sundays and holidays.
Travel time: 1:30
The other option is the speed boat, that departs every hour from 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
Price: R$ 25 (US$ 5), from Mondays to Saturdays; RS 27 (US$ 5.40), on Sundays and holidays.
Travel time: 40min
∗ From Ilha de Boipeba
You can also get to Morro from Boipeba taking one of the boat tours that are not completely full of people, or taking a boat plus a jeep (R$ 130 – US$ 25).
There’s a new company, Abaeté Linhas Aéreas, flying daily from Salvador to Morro. It’s a very small aircraft and booking in advance is highly recommended.
The flight takes between 15 to 25 min, and costs around R$ 1000 (US$ 200).
Best time to go?
The island can be visited all year round just consider two things:
∗ The busiest time is from Christmas to one week after the Carnival.
∗ From April to July is the rainy season.
The best time for me is from September to December or two weeks after the carnival.
Where to Stay
Some of the hotels in Morro that I recommend are:
- Budget:Farofa Loca Hostel, Che Lagarto Hostel and Pousada Estevão
- Great cost/benefit:Pousada Aquarela, Pousada Caeira and Pousada Bahia Bacana
- Luxury:Vila Dos Orixás Boutique Hotel, Villa dos Corais and Patachocas
Where to Eat & Drink
In the village: Café das Artes, Toca do Morcego, Andina Cozinha Latina and Mediterrâneo MSP.
On the beaches: Sambass Café Restaurante, Restaurante Funny, Restaurante Piscina, Restaurante Varandas and Caipi do Romário.
All visitors must pay an environmental fee of R$ 20 (US$ 5) when entering Morro.
There’s also a port fee of R$ 1.25 (US$ 0.25) and you have to pay every time you take a boat.
You can exchange dollars and euros on the island, but you can get a better rate if you change your money in bug cities, such as São Paulo, Rio and Salvador.
For more information about Morro de Sao Paulo and Costa do Dendê region visit BahiaTursa.
Day trips from Salvador
- Book Your Flight Find deals on airlines on my favorite search engine: Skyscanner. Be sure to read my How to find cheap flights article.
- Rent A CarRental Cars is a great site for comparing car prices to find the best deal.
- Book AccommodationBooking.com is my favorite hotel search engine. But Hotels.com and Hilton Hotels have very interesting reward programs. If you prefer to rent locals’ apartment, the best option is undoubtedly Airbnb. Here is US$ 30 credit towards your fist booking.
- Protect Your Trip Don’t forget travel insurance! I always use World Nomads for short-term trips and SafetyWing for long-term ones. Find out why Travel Insurance: Much More Than a Precaution, a Necessity.
- Book Tours in Advance Book unforgettable experiences and skip-the-line tickets with GetYourGuide or Viator .
- Book Ground TransportationBookaWay offers a stress-free experience with secure payments and no hidden fees. You pay online and receive your itinerary by email.
- Luggage Solutions Rent your luggage with Cargo or if you need to drop off your own luggage and enjoy your time without dragging it all over a city, find a LuggageHero shop here.
- Get a Travel CardRevolut Card is a pre-paid debit card that enables cash machine withdrawals in 120 countries. I’ve been using my Revolut Card for over a year and never paid foreign-transaction fees again. Get your Revolut Card with free shipping here.
- Packing Guide Check out my How to Pack a Carry-on Luggage For a Five-month Trip to help you start packing for your trip. Don’t forget your camera, chargers and other useful travel accessories.