Life in Trancoso revolves around the Quadrado (the town’s grassy, 300-metre-long central square) and the paradisiacal white sandy beaches that flank the coast below.
In reality, the “beaches” are one seemingly endless stretch of white sand that run all the way up to Porto Seguro in the north and further than the eye can possibly see to the south. Every few kilometres the beach is interrupted by estuaries, whose fresh water mingles with its salty marine cousin, creating natural swimming pools in the sand.
In true tropical style, the beaches are bordered by the lush vegetation of the mata nativa (native rain forest) and towering palm trees. The colour of the sea is an ever-changing palette of blue-green hues: ultramarine morphs into azure; cobalt and sapphire cede to cerulean; turquoise glints with jungle-emerald highlights.
A long stretch of reef out to sea offers protection against the Atlantic Ocean beyond, and the gently rolling waters are ideal for swimming and water sports. Here below are some beaches you should try while in Trancoso:
Praia dos Nativos
The closest beach to Trancoso, Praia dos Nativos is a 10 to 15-minute walk from the Quadrado (though the return, uphill trip might take a little longer). A dirt track leads down from near the 16th century church through the mangroves and thick forest foliage before depositing you on the fine white sand. Once there, you can choose from one of the lidos or walk a little and find your very own stretch of beach. Chic beach bars and restaurants provide sustenance and itinerant capirinha and coconut water vendors are always on hand to supply refreshment. Praia dos Nativos is the closest beach for Thinking Travellers staying at Casa dos Arquitetos, Casa Biribandos and Casa Inga'.
Praia do Rio da Barra
About 3km up the coast from Trancoso, just below the golf course, is Praia do Rio da Barra, named after the river which bisects the beach. Less frequented than Praia dos Nativos, thanks to its relative distance from the main inhabited centre (but still only a 10-minute drive away), Praia do Rio da Barra has one bar-restaurant and some fresh water pools created by the river. Immersing yourself in these pools while looking out to sea and soaking up the atmosphere is an unbeatable way of relaxing. If that weren't enough, you can also have a massage and rent kayaks.
Terravista Beach and Praia da Lagoa Azul
Below the Terravista Golf Course (a 15-minute drive from Trancoso) is Terravista beach, the closest to Casa Fabula, Casa Tatajuba and Casa Aquarela. Served by a couple of beach shacks, there is a wilder, more elemental feel here and if you walk a bit further north, you will come to the cliff-backed, surf-rolling Praia da Lagoa Azul, which is yet more isolated. It is a great spot for paragliding, which can be arranged on the spot. If you like to have a long stretch of sand virtually to yourself, these beaches are worth a trip.
Praia dos Coqueiros
A short stroll south along Praia dos Nativos will take you to Praia do Coqueiros, so-called thanks to an impressive copse of coconut palms that rise above the beach. Sections of reef lie close to the beach, creating calm pools of water and interesting snorkelling opportunities. A couple of beach-front restaurants provide excellent lunch options and bars specialise in coconut based refreshments garnered from the trees that give the beach its name.
Praia Rio Verde
Continuing our beach walk a few hundred metres further south we will soon find ourselves on Praia Rio Verde, a pristine, relatively unfrequented stretch of sand. Thinking Travellers staying at Casa Areia and Casa de Sapê have this wonderful beach at the end of their gardens.
Praia de Itapororoca
Just south of Praia dos Coqueiros is the impressive beach of Itapororoca, which, like its neighbour, is home to natural reef pools at low tide. Local fishermen often cast their nets nearby and it's fascinating to watch them work. Our villa, Casa Baleia, opens out directly onto Itapororoca beach.
Praia Itaquena is a 20-minute drive south from Trancoso. A large section of coastal reef protects the beach, which is famed for its shallow, sheltered waters and natural low-tide pools, making it a favourite with snorkelers. Out past the reef, the sea provides some decent waves for surfers. There are a few beach bars and restaurants for anyone feeling peckish after a morning’s activity.
Praia do Espelho
With all the glorious beaches on Trancoso’s doorstop, you might question whether you want to spend 45 minutes driving on bumpy dirt tracks to get to Praia do Espelho. However, on arrival you will probably decide that the trip was worth it, as Praia do Espelho is considered as one of Brazil's most beautiful beaches, with fine white sand, more of those natural reef pools and a pair of excellent restaurants, all framed by the vibrant green of the mata nativa and a host of exotic coconut palms.