Looking for a unique, undiscovered beach destination for your next vacation or to buy a vacation home before demand drives prices up? Here’s a find for you: check out Praia do Forte, Salvador, (Fort Beach), near Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. Situated about 1¼ hours north from Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, this fantastic beach is closer to the international airport than the city. And since Brazil is in the southern hemisphere, it’s summer there during our winter.
The resort is like many beach resorts with funky stores, but in addition, there are high-end boutiques, art galleries, and jewelry stores catering to an upscale market. It’s a cross between Venice Beach, California, with Bal Harbor, Florida.
The beach is named for a fort situated on a high point on the road overlooking the coastline. It is said to be the only castle in South America (a fort and home combination). Now in ruins, but undergoing repairs, the guide to the castle tells how the occupant owned 10% of the land in Brazil, basically from this point northward, when he built the castle about 500 years ago using Portuguese slave laborers, who had been given the Hobson’s choice of coming to South America as a slave or languishing in a jail in Portugal.
This palm trees that now dominate the area were originally brought by the castle owner from Goa, India, and today heavily infiltrate Brazilian cooking with coconuts and palm oil.
At the resort you can find homes of Brazil’s wealthy alongside rental accommodations from one of many “pousadas” that dot the beach. Roads and services here are up to American standards.
The area has grown significantly due to a turtle rescue project, known as the Tamar project, headquartered on the beach. The project led to tourism, which in turn brought a multitude of shopkeepers. Today a significant permanent population supports public schools and all the municipal services you find in any small city.
You can almost count on good weather year-round. The restaurants are delicious and reasonably priced, as are the accommodations. I found accommodations from between $30 to $75 a night. Some all-inclusive options exist as well. Some of the best-located hotels are Hotel Eco Atlantico, Porto, Pousada Tatuapara, and Pousada Mares do Forte. A Google search yielded many other options.
One disadvantage of this beach is that you cannot fly directly to the nearest airport from the U.S. This disadvantage also can be considered an advantage as it keeps hordes from coming. You need to connect through Sao Paulo, South American’s largest airport, which adds transportation time. The international flights arrive at a different terminal than domestic flights onward to Salvador de Bahia. A 15 minute free bus shuttle between terminals is required. It’s not hard to navigate; good signage is in English. Because it is a bit challenging to get to, you won’t find many foreigners at this beach, allowing yourself to immerse in Brazilian culture and language. Unless you speak Portugese, consider a taxi service to the beach from the airport for about $40. Arrange it through your hotel in advance. Itacimirim Turismo was one taxi company that seemed to have many cars.
I think that a week at this beach is not too long if you enjoy beach activities, shopping and eating well. There were many families here, and I observed children’s activities, assuming your children aren’t intimidated by children speaking another language. Nightlife brings out the crowds; the pedestrian-only boulevards get crowded with folks from all around the area that come here for entertainment.
The beach appears to be very safe, the water is warm, the sand is fine brown, the climate is nearly perfect, and depending on your accommodations, you can be as secluded or as social as you want to be…what else can you ask for! You may even end up buying your own dream home on the beach in this undiscovered paradise of Praia do Forte, Salvador