You’re clearly thinking outside the box if you are looking for a beach vacation in Salvador. Take that as a compliment by the way. Lots of people think of Rio de Janeiro first, or perhaps São Paulo, although Salvador has been becoming more popular in recent years. It’s not hard to see why, so if you’re looking for some romance we’re going to help you find the best beach in Salvador Bahia for couples.
If Salvador Dali is the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Salvador, well, you are in the wrong country for a start. Salvador Dali was a Spanish artist who lived and died in Spain. The Salvador we are talking about is in the state of Bahia in the northeastern part of Brazil. Salvador is the capital of Bahia, and you may see it referred to as Salvador de Bahia, Salvador da Bahia, or even São Salvador da Bahia de Todos os Santos. Bit of a mouthful! We’ll just call it Salvador.
There are many things to do and lots to see in this colorful city, packed with culture and Portuguese colonial architecture. With temperatures in the eighties pretty much all year round it’s no wonder that people flock to the beaches to cool down. Salvador is on a peninsula, with the South Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Bay of All Saints to the west. There is plenty of coastline to discover, so let’s get to it and find the best beach in Salvador Bahia for couples.
Did you know? Salvador means “savior”.
Porto da Barra Beach
Porto da Barra is possibly the best beach in Salvador Bahia for couples. If you are both into having fun! As the name implies, it is located in the Barra neighborhood. Barra is in the southwest of Salvador. Facing west into the bay this is a great spot for swimming because the water is calm. The Fort of Santa Maria borders the beach on the southern end. This beach is popular with families and water sports enthusiasts. Due to its west-facing position it is a fantastic location to enjoy the sunset. Look out for the men with watering cans. No, they are not trying to cultivate seeds. They are watering the sand to make it cooler for you to walk on!
If you are a couple in search of fun and a lively atmosphere then this beach would suit you nicely. You can rent chairs and umbrellas (from the men with watering cans) and there is a selection of restaurants and bars nearby when you are in need of refreshment. Plenty of hotels in Salvador are located in the popular neighborhood of Barra, in this southwestern corner of Salvador, so undoubtedly there will be lots of tourists here as well. Especially if you visit during high season. However, if you prefer your beaches slightly less crowded and are in this area already, then you will find a smaller narrower beach to the left (south) of the fort.
Praia do Farol da Barra
Take a map of Salvador and look at the most south-westerly point. You will notice the Farol da Barra – the Barra lighthouse. This is actually one of America’s oldest lighthouses, dating back to 1698. Catch it at night when it is lit up.
Praia do Farol da Barra is a beach on the southern coast, just around the corner from Porto da Barra. You can walk between the two beaches in around fifteen minutes. Praia do Farol da Barra is also in the Barra neighborhood and the lighthouse marks its most westerly point. The most easterly point is marked by a large statue of Jesus Christ – el morro de Cristo.
The beaches of Salvador may not rival some of the other beach resorts we have looked at, or do they? That is down to you to decide. We think this one comes pretty close. It could be the best beach in Salvador Bahia for couples who want to be in the middle of the action, but have some space to move. Praia do Farol da Barra is south facing so the water is the Atlantic Ocean now, but it is still calm and a great spot for swimmers, especially at low tide. Bigger than the previous beach, it shouldn’t feel as crowded, even though it is still in the Barra neighborhood.
You can rent beach chairs and umbrellas here too. Being in Barra, again you aren’t far from refreshment opportunities. Several bars and restaurants nearby serve food or opt for a takeaway that you can eat on the beach. You can buy cool drinks on the beach too. At sunset, turn to the west and marvel at the beautiful setting sun behind the lighthouse. That is a lovely photo opportunity right there. The Farol da Barra is a museum as well, which might be a welcome respite from the heat of the day. Climb up inside to enjoy beautiful views.
Local tip: if you feel like an adventure you might be able to find the hidden beach. Just to the north of Porto da Barra, around the corner from the lighthouse, is a small stretch of sand that appears and disappears with the tide.
Known for being the endpoint for Carnaval, the neighborhood of Ondina is a few kilometers on from Barra. Carnaval is celebrated in many different places, Ondina being just one of many. For example, Peru also has Carnaval – almost six thousand kilometers away from Salvador.
Although not the most visited area of Salvador (unless it is Carnaval time of course), Ondina is quite popular with tourists and it is home to some of the big chain hotels in Salvador. People come here for the zoo and botanical park amongst other things. The beach is visited by locals and visitors staying in one of the nearby hotels. If you are looking for a quirky photo opportunity then visit the Monumento das Gordinhas.
The beach itself is a great area to sit back with a cold drink in hand and soak up the relaxed beach atmosphere. There are numerous restaurants within easy walking distance and some of the hotels open their facilities to non-guests. There are some shops nearby too. Although not packed with things to do or see, it’s the best beach in Salvador Bahia for couples to visit if you want to leave the busy Barra area for a little while and not have to travel too far. As it is so close, you can get here easily by bus from Barra. The sea can get a little rough at Ondina, so beach shoes are advised if you want to go into the water.
Praia da Paciencia
Only about one kilometer from Ondina Beach is Praia de Paciencia, located just in the neighborhood of Rio Vermelho. Located between Ondina which we have already mentioned, and Amaralina, this neighborhood is famed for its trendy vibe. There are numerous live music bars and food stalls selling Acarajé – delicious fritters made with black-eyed peas and shrimp. Check out Largo de Santana, a really popular place for a fritter feast.
Praia da Paciencia is a sandy beach located in a small cove, with rocky outcrops at either end. Mainly frequented by locals it is a nice place to visit if you want to get off the tourist track for a while. Although during the high season you will be able to hire beach chairs if you wish, you won’t find beach bars, restaurants, or shops that you might associate with the larger and busier beaches. But that’s why you’re here right? The beach is below street level so do be careful with your belongings, but this is a lovely area to while away a few hours by the sea and the sunsets again, are beautiful from here.
When you have had your fill of beach time fun, the local area of Rio Vermelho is well worth checking out. Romantic dining won’t be hard to find. This neighborhood was home to the writers Jorge Amado and Zelia Gatai and their house and garden is a top attraction here in Salvador.
Praia do Buracão
Praia do Buracão is also in the hip Rio Vermelho neighborhood not far along the coast from Praia da Paciencia. It’s maybe the best beach in Salvador Bahia for couples looking for a party vibe, mainly at the weekend or when live music is playing in the Blue Beach Bar, talked about below. Praia do Buracão is popular with the LGBT crowd. Tourists staying in one of the nearby hotels in Salvador also enjoy it. It is not visible from the road so you probably wouldn’t find it by chance unless you asked someone local. This helps to keep it fairly quiet although it does get busy, especially at weekends. Partly due to its size – it is quite small compared to the other beaches we have mentioned so far.
But its popularity is also down to the Blue Beach Bar. This bar serves drinks and food with a beautiful outlook onto the beach and the ocean. A perfect place to enjoy a romantic meal with a gorgeous view. The best time to go here is during the week. Weekends are busy and service can be affected, so it’s best to avoid these times. Check opening hours before you go. But you can just enjoy the beach if you wish. There are many other restaurants and bars that can be reached within a fifteen-minute walk.
Praia de Itapuã
Maybe the best beach in Salvador Bahia for couples is lined with palm trees In which case you need to travel approximately fifteen to twenty kilometers north of Salvador city center and the Barra neighborhood, up the eastern coast. Praia de Itapuã is one such beach. There are still some beach facilities here but with less of the manic city vibe. Is it one of the best beaches? That depends on what you want from a beach. But what you will find at Praia de Itapuã is white sand lined with palm trees, and beach huts selling snacks and drinks. It is a large enough beach that you should be able to find a quiet spot for some peaceful seclusion.
The neighborhood of Itapuã has its roots in fishing but is today known as an area with a laid back vibe with a deep love of music. Restaurants serving Moqueca stew (a typical fish stew made with coconut milk from Salvador) are not to be missed. Vegetarians need not worry as many establishments do a vegetarian version of Moqueca as well, but do check before booking a table!
The rocky headland at the northern corner creates a small bay area but if you are keen swimmers looking for peaceful water it may not be the best beach in Salvador. It is known to have quite strong waves sometimes. This makes it a good spot for surfing but not necessarily a peaceful swimming location. If you do want to swim here then it is best to check the forecast before you go. As is typical with a lot of beaches, early morning is often the calmest time as far as the ocean goes. At the northern end of Praia de Itapuã just around the rocky headland is the Itapuã lighthouse. It’s a striking column of red and white and makes a pretty backdrop for photos. It was built in 1873 and still guides boats around the rocky shoreline today.
Stella Maris Beach
Round the corner from Praia de Itapuã Beach is Stella Maris Beach, located in the neighborhood of the same name -Stella Maris. Many of the beach hotels in Salvador are found in this area, fronting on to Stella Maris Beach. It’s a favored location for travelers and residents alike because it is not far from the airport. It is considered to be quite an upscale neighborhood. The beaches in this neighborhood are known for their barracas (beach bars) and are popular with tourists and locals.
The sandy beach of Stella Maris is characterized by rock pools that you can see when the tide is out. Because of this, enter the water carefully when the tide is in, as the rock formations are hidden in the water. This is a scenic beach with soft white sand and tall palm trees. Eat at the beach restaurant or stroll to a number of local bars and restaurants. It’s a great beach to see the sunset from and the general vibe is relaxed and friendly.
The best time to visit the beaches of Stella Maris for swimming is early morning before the waves get up. The water is clear and calm at the time. When the waves roll in, you can try surfing or bodyboarding, or just sit back with a Caipirinha in hand and watch those that are. Stella Maris means “Star of the Sea” and the beach here is certainly one of the stars of the Salvador coastline.
This beach is almost the northernmost beach in Salvador, also in Stella Maris. It’s approximately a forty-minute drive from the Barra area. Golden sand and palm trees await you here.
Flamengo (not to be confused with the area of the same name in Rio de Janeiro) Beach is in front of the Parque das Dunas ecological nature reserve – worthy of a visit while you are in the area. Spot some of the birds and learn about the animals found in this part of the world. As with all the beaches on this stretch of coastline, the water can be rough so if you want to swim be aware of the current conditions. If you are happy to lie back on the sand, relax, and people watch then this is a great choice. Some of the rock formations produce little water pools at low tide – ideal for dipping your feet in to cool off from the hot sand.
One of the best beaches for beach clubs, there are two restaurants/beach clubs on this beach. Perfect for when you are feeling peckish or need to get out of the sun for a bit. They are called Barraca do Lôro and Barraca de Pipa. Relax in the shade, listening to music, while you enjoy your food and a cool drink overlooking the ocean. Barraca de Pipa Beach Club has sun loungers and sofas so you can luxuriate in a romantic chilled day with drinks brought to you on the sand. Barraca do Lôro is known for its seafood. If you can get a table near the front of the terrace you can gaze over the ocean and soak up the Brazilian beach atmosphere while you eat. Beach sellers walk up and down daily offering their wares – trying the cold coconut milk comes highly recommended!
As with most places, weekends can get very busy! There are plenty of hotels in this area so tourists and locals alike flock to this beach every weekend. If you can visit during the week, then do. Unless you don’t mind a busier atmosphere.
Praia do Forte
Praia do Forte is located on Ilha de Itaparica. Okay, not strictly speaking in Salvador, but this island of Itaparica is a must-do for couples looking for some romance. In the Bay of Saints, off the coast of Salvador, there are actually three main islands you can visit in the bay. Ilha de Itaparica, Ilha dos Frades, and Ilha de Maré.
What beats taking a boat ride to far-flung shores to while away an idyllic day? While we admit it isn’t really that far-flung (Ilha de Itaparica is located only ten kilometers off the coast of Salvador), there is something undeniably exciting and romantic about traversing the ocean to step foot on new shores.
Ilha de Itaparica is home to approximately forty kilometers of white sandy beaches. You will be spoilt for choice when you get there. Take a ferry ride from Salvador and be on the sand in around one hour. Top tip: decide where you want to head to before you arrive so you don’t waste precious time once there. For example, Praia do Forte is located on the northern tip and is a good location to catch the sunset. Take a picnic, lay back, and enjoy the clear waters. The earlier you get there the better, although if you want to catch the beautiful sunset, you’ll need to decide if you have the patience to wait all day. You may be better off arriving later.
Praia de Cacha Pregos is one of the best beaches, if not the best beach here, though it is quite a way down the island. If you can make it work, we’d recommend visiting here. There are lots of tours you can go on that will give you plenty of time to explore the beaches of Itaparica, and some of them combine the Ilha dos Frades – the island of Friars – as well. You can find tours to the islands from Salvador for around US $30 per person. Most of the hotels in Salvador will be able to recommend trips for you. Bear in mind that some of the tour guides only speak Portuguese.
And the best beach in Salvador Bahia for couples is…?
The answer to what is the best beach in Salvador Bahia for couples is subjective. Different couples will think different beaches are best. But one thing for sure is that if you are staying in any of the hotels in Salvador, you will have your pick of beaches. From laid-back palm-fringed coves to stretches of sand packed with chairs and umbrellas. It’s not surprising when you consider that Brazil is the largest South American country. It is far bigger than the likes of Colombia or Peru.