Find out where Caraíva is located, what are the best things to do, the best time to visit this paradise, and find everything you need to plan your trip to south Bahia in Brazil!
The district of Caraíva in Bahia, is part of the municipality of Porto Seguro and it has become a tourist destination increasingly sought by Brazilians, and for a good reason. Founded in 1530, the oldest village in Brazil offers incredible experiences such as watching the river meeting the sea, spending the day on deserted beaches, enjoying the starry sky or even experiencing the indigenous culture. One thing is for sure, Caraíva is the perfect place for those who want to disconnect from the outside world and get connected to their inner selves through contact with nature.
If you are considering visiting this paradise, this post will be your complete and faithful guide to understand how to get to Caraíva, where to stay, what to do and where to eat. Besides, we will give you enough reasons to add Caraiva to your travel itinerary in Brazil.
Where is Caraíva, when to go and for how long to stay
Where is Caraíva?
Caraíva is a Brazilian seaside village, part of Porto Seguro city in the state of Bahia. It is located 60 km away from the city center – a 2 hours’ drive. If you want to depart from a closer origin, you can get there from Arraial d’Ajuda in about 1 hour and a half, driving for 54 km. But to stay really close to Caraíva, the ideal scenario is to leave from Trancoso and drive for 1 hour – or 36 km – that will go by like magic when you see what waits for you at the destination.
Where is Caraíva on the map:
Which airport is the nearest to Caraíva?
The nearest airport to Caraíva is the Porto Seguro Airport (Iata: BPS).
Why to visit Caraíva, Brazil?
If you like remote destinations you will love Caraíva! It’s a place where you will have a lot of contact with nature, by swimming in the sea, on a boat, floating on the river, visiting an indigenous community in the middle of the forest or admiring the shooting stars at night. With a limited internet connection, Caraíva is a perfect place to put problems aside and get connected to your inner self.
When to go to Caraíva, Brazil?
The sun shines in Caraíva for almost all year around, but during the winter months, between June and August, there are higher risks of rain.
The best months (but also the busiest) are between December and January, when temperatures are around 29ºC. It is worth mentioning that during these months the water temperature is between 25ºC and 30ºC, making the experience even more perfect.
Weather in Caraíva
We risk saying that 5 days is enough to get to know the main attractions of Caraíva, but the place is so amazing that it’s really worth staying as many days as you can to enjoy every bit of it.
How to get to Caraíva, Bahia
The arrival itself is already an adventure, involving a bumpy dirt road and even a boat crossing. First of all, you need to arrive in Nova Caraíva – a village on the banks of the Caraíva River – where the crossing to the famous village of Caraíva takes place and where cars are not allowed. Here are all the steps to to get there:
How to get to Caraíva by plane
If you arrive by plane, Porto Seguro Airport (BPS) is the closest. Then you can take one of the routes below.
How to get to Caraíva by car
Leaving from Porto Seguro, you can rent a car, take the ferry to Arraial d’Ajuda, and take the Estrada de Trancoso (BA-001) to Nova Caraíva, a journey that takes approximately 2 hours. Leaving from Trancoso, the journey takes about 1 hour.
In Nova Caraíva it will be necessary to leave the car in the parking lot, for R$ 20 per day (it is always worth trying to negotiate the price) and then make the crossing by boat:
|Mean of Transportation||Cost R$ (January/21)|
From R$115 / day
|Crossing by ferry from Porto Seguro to Arraial d’Ajuda||R$18 to R$22 per vehicle, including the driver + R$4,50 per extra passenger|
|Parking lot in Nova Caraíva||R$20 / day|
If you prefer, you can take a taxi or transfer.
Leaving from Porto Seguro Airport, the taxi to Nova Caraíva costs R$ 400 (one way) and the transfer from Grupo A.R. costs R$ 1000, round trip for up to 2 passengers and you can choose to return on another date. If you are leaving from Trancoso, the taxi will cost R$ 240, one way.
Uber is a one way option, but you strongly risk the driver declining it due to the distance or charging an additional amount to cover ferry costs and the return without a passenger. On the way back from Caraíva to Porto Seguro, it will be almost impossible to find app drivers in the region.
|Mean of Transportation||Cost R$ (Jan/2021)|
Taxi from Porto Seguro Airport to Caraíva
|R$400 one way – up to 4 people|
|Taxi from Trancoso to Caraíva||R$250 one way – up to 4 people|
|Transfer from Porto Seguro Airport to Caraíva||R$1000 one way – up to 2 people|
How to get to Caraíva by bus or van
If you choose to go to Caraíva by bus or van, you must first arrive in Arraial d’Ajuda, as both depart from the Terminal das Balsas (Ferry Terminal).
To arrive in Arraial you can take an Uber from Porto Seguro Airport to the ferry, and make the ferry crossing by foot, which is free for pedestrians.
The bus company that takes you to Caraíva within 3 hours of travel is Águia Azul, and each way costs around R$ 16. Pay close attention to the schedules as there are only 2 buses per day (on Sundays, there’s only 1).
If you choose to go to Caraíva by shuttle van, the price leaving either from Trancoso or Arraial d’Ajuda is R$ 35 each way, the advantage of the van is that the journey ends up being faster, but sometimes they fill up the van early and leave before the scheduled time. Here is the contact number of 2 vans in Caraiva (they only speak Portuguese though):
Diego + 55 (73) 98101-2645
Costinha + 55 (73) 99913-4608
|Mean of Transportation||Cost R$ (January/21)|
|Bus from Arraial d’Ajuda to Caraíva||R$16.10 one way|
|Bus from Trancoso to Caraíva||R$14 one way|
|Van from Arraial d’Ajuda to Caraíva||R$35 one way|
|Van from Trancoso to Caraíva||R$35 one way (you need to book one day in advance)|
When you arrive in Nova Caraíva, you will see a parking lot where the buses/vans leave their passengers and from there you will need to take a boat to the village of Caraíva. In addition to the cost of R$ 5 for the boat trip (each way), there is the optional charge for the Ecoticket: a fee of R$ 10 per person that helps in the preservation of the village, which really needs our help because it has an extremely fragile ecosystem.
|Mean of Transportation||Cost R$ (January/21)|
|Crossing by boat from Nova Caraíva to the village of Caraíva||R$5 one way|
How to get around in Caraíva
After crossing the river, you will need to walk to your accommodation, usually the lodgings offer a map with directions on how to get there. The village is small and everything there is done on foot, above the soft sand.
Upon arriving at the village you will find some people offering transportation to the hotel through wagons pulled by donkeys. As we seek to be conscious travelers, we do not recommend using them. These donkeys already need to transport garbage and many other things around, so we can spare them from carrying us. We recommend you to bring a backpack or handbags with only the essentials (light summer items), you will find out that this service is totally unnecessary. We talked about it in our stories, come check it out.
LMTM tip: I traveled to the south coast of Bahia with a wheeled suitcase. Knowing that it would be difficult to take it to Caraíva, I talked to my accommodation in Trancoso and they authorized me to leave my suitcase there while I was away for a few days. So I took to Caraíva only a backpack and a handbag with what I needed for my stay. You can try to do the same, but don’t forget to confirm with your accommodation if they offer this type of benefit, being it located in Porto Seguro, Arraial or Trancoso. =)
Check out some curiosities about Caraíva:
▪️ Electricity became a reality in Caraíva only in 2007 and all the cabling is underground. Today they have 90% coverage, but it is still common to experience a blackout.
▪️ Internet signal in the village – so far – is not good enough for anyone who is a digital nomad and depends on a good internet connection to work.
▪️ Most entrepreneurs of Caraíva are from outside the region. Boteco do Pará is one of the few ventures created by a native who hires only local family members.
▪️ Many natives sold their land in the village to some businessmen, and went to live in Nova Caraíva.
▪️ The district is very close to the Monte Pascoal National Park, a region that is home to 9 indigenous villages.
Things to do in Caraíva
Would you like to know what are the best things to do in Caraíva? Check out this list with 17 options:
The House “Smile, you are in Caraíva”
I bet you’ve seen a picture of someone in front of this house, which is actually a clothing store. In addition to being an icon of the village, the house is really charming and, let’s face it, it is impossible not to smile while being in Caraíva.
The house is located on Rua do Cruzeiro, close to the boat crossing point.
Barra Beach (Praia da Barra)
Watching Caraíva River meeting the sea is one of the countless natural beauties of Caraíva and this spectacle can be experienced at Barra Beach. The tip of sand that makes this experience possible is located 5 minutes walking from the center of the village and offers sunbathing chairs for you to choose whether you want to relax in front of fresh or saltwater, just order yours at Barraca do Nando.
The color of the sea depends a lot on the tide, because if the river ends up invading the sea, the water gets darker, just like the opposite. To top it off this amazing experience, it is worth watching the sunset, which will certainly be one of the most beautiful you’ll see.
Caraíva Beach (Praia de Caraíva)
Near the river is Barra Beach, but all the rest of it is called Caraíva Beach. If you keep on walking for a few minutes you will find a gorgeous and empty beach, just for you. For those who fancy a good walk by the sea, in 11 km you reach the Corumbau River – where you can take the boat and make the crossing to the paradisiacal Ponta do Corumbau – taking advantage of the path to get to know the beaches of the Indigenous Reserve of the Pataxós.
If you love a blue sea and tranquility, Satú is a must-visit beach during your trip to Caraíva. The beach is 4 km away from the village and to reach it you have to go to Barra Beach and cross the river on foot, swimming or by boat (for R$ 5/one way), depending on the tide. After this little adventure on the crossing, you need to walk another 3km – about 1 hour – to reach Bar do Satú.
If you walk for another 15 minutes you will find three beautiful lagoons – and this is not the only surprise on the way. From the second one, it is possible to pass clay over your body, wait for it to dry and bathe in the lagoon’s warm fresh water. Get ready to feel more relaxed than ever after that spa day in the middle of nature.
For the brave ones, it is possible to walk another 6 km and reach Espelho Beach, but it is important to pay attention when returning. We highly recommend you to follow the tide table and leave Bar do Satú before the tide comes back in so you can pass safely through an area of rocks.
If you are looking for a day of pure fun in Caraíva, then Prainha is the destination, since the place is where the float-cross ride leaves from. The rental of the float costs R$ 50 and it is possible to ride it in two ways: floating alone down the Caraíva River – which takes about 1h40 – or asking a motorboat to pull you, arriving in about 40 minutes at the beach (the best option).
Another curiosity is that, for some years, Caraíva celebrated Carnaboia during the Carnival, in which all the revelers floated down the river. It seems like a fun idea, but it was suspended due to the excessive intake of alcoholic beverages by the participants, so we recommend you to drink caipirinhas after the ride as it is a very dangerous combination.
São Sebastião Church
São Sebastião Church is considered one of the oldest churches in Brazil and is safekept by the Historical Heritage Authority. Caraíva’s beautiful chapel was built with whale oil and bones, shells, stones and sand, and celebrates Masses every Sunday at 10am and 7pm, Wednesdays at 7pm and Saturdays at 7pm.
Porto do Boi Indigenous Village
For those who like to really immerse into the local culture, it is worth visiting the Aldeia Porto do Boi. On this tour it is possible to learn about the culture of the Pataxós (one of the several indigenous ethnicities in Brazil), dance with them, bathe in herbs, eat fish baked in a patioba leaf, taste the puba flour, and much more.
To get there, you need to hire a boat for R$ 100, plus pay an extra R$ 70 as an entrance fee at the village. The tour is back at 1pm but on the way back, you can ask the boatman to take you to Satú or to Busca Vida Bar.
Barra Velha Indigenous Village
6 km from the south of Caraíva, you can reach Aldeia Barra Velha, also known as Aldeia Mãe (Mother Village, in English) because it was the first indigenous village in the region. There are about 500 Pataxós families who have their income formed, basically, by selling their handicrafts and the manufacture of their flour, whose method of preparation has been the same since the time of colonization.
The village is pretty large and it has schools, a hospital and several other structures that were added as time went on. Anyone who wants to visit this special place, don’t think twice, as the entrance is free and the experience is very rich.
Espelho Beach (Praia do Espelho)
Although Espelho Beach is part of Trancoso, many tourists visit this famous paradise from Caraíva. To get there you have to walk to Barra Beach, cross the river by boat (costing R$ 5) and walk another 9 km, passing by some unforgettable landscapes. It is also possible to arrive at Praia do Espelho by car, bus (Águia Azul) or with vans from agencies that usually work only during the high season, but it is worth mentioning that the road has a lot of holes, so prepare yourself for a shaky ride.
Despite being close to Caraíva, Corumbau is a district of Prado, which has several beautiful beaches and, during the summer, it is possible to go scuba diving. Ponta de Corumbau is the most famous beach in this region due to its strip of sand that, during low tide, becomes more of a sand bank. With several food spots, the place is great to see a beautiful landscape and enjoy the whole day.
To get there you can hire a buggy or go by boat. The buggy costs R$ 100 per person and they accept cards, and if you are going in a group of 4 people it’s possible to negotiate the tour for R$350. You can also add an extra stop at Barra Velha Village on the way back.
A unanimous tip that we received was to eat at Canal do Pampo. We ordered the highly recommended Goinha’s Octopus Rice, which costs R$ 170 and although it claims to serve 2 people, it serves up to 3. We also tried the Peixe na Pedra (Fish on the Rock) which is made in soy sauce and ginger, with white rice, farofa and banana puree on the side, which is the second most requested dish there and it costs R$ 130. To drink, it is worth asking for a caipirinha of pitaya with passion fruit or pitaya with lemon and get refreshed spending only R$ 23.
Bar Busca Vida
The famous Brazilian cachaça Busca Vida, which is produced in the interior of São Paulo state, also has its name at a bar in Caraíva that can only be reached by boat. The Busca Vida Bar has a very cozy atmosphere, delicious food and, of course, a huge variety of cachaças to be tasted to the sound of live music that is usually present at night.
Sunrise and Sunset
I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite things to do is always watching the sunset, especially in places as magical as Caraíva. Watching the sun painting the sky at Barra Beach and hiding between the river and the sea is an experience that will never be forgotten, and it is even more delicious while drinking a traditional caipirinha and eating the famous stingray pastel at Boteco do Pará.
Visit nearby districts
Take advantage of this trip to spend a few days in the nearby districts: Trancoso, Arraial d’Ajuda and Porto Seguro. Some people also take the opportunity to go further south and visit Corumbau and Curumuxatiba. Every corner of southern Bahia is worth it, enjoy everything you can around these wonderful lands.
Doing absolutely nothing
Caraíva is one of those perfect places for you to activate your airplane mode and just “do nothing”. The atmosphere of the place is very pleasant, so take the opportunity to think about your life, read a book, chat with those who are with you in this paradise and with the local people, walk around the village and maybe get into a musical gathering at the end of the afternoon to sing.
Things to do in Caraíva at night
Here are some suggestions of what to do in Caraiva at night:
Look at the stars
If the sky is clear, enjoy looking at the stars in some dark corner of the village or at the beach, because it is not that often that we have the opportunity to be looking at the starriest sky in Brazil, right? Another irrefutable gift that Caraíva offers us.
Beco da Lua is the place where the nightlife happens in Caraíva. In addition to offering varied cuisine and delicious drinks, live music and forró are the highlights of the night, so if you fancy dancing to the rhythm of the village, this is an unmissable item on your list.
Live music in bars and restaurants
Just like Beco da Lua, most bars and restaurants in Caraíva offer live music, mainly during the high season, to raise even more the energy of the village. When you go out for dinner, make sure it will be a night like no other.
LMTM Tip: When going out at night, make sure your phone is completely charged because you’ll need to use the flashlight to be able to walk in the streets of Caraíva, which are very dark since there is no public lighting.
What to take to Caraíva
To help you decide what to pack for your trip to Caraíva, we made a short list:
- Sunscreen and repellent (At a store called Ghayia, in Caraíva, it’s possible to find biodegradable repellent, I bought one for R$ 66);
- Cap and hat are indispensable items;
- Long-sleeved T-shirt with UV protection (This can be a great ally for long walks);
- Ointment for insect bites;
- 1 pair of flip-flops (This is the only shoe you will be wearing. Leave the flat sandals aside as they get ruined by the soft sand);
- Cash money;
- Backpack instead of a wheeled suitcase;
- A toothpick to clean your toenails;
- A sponge to clean your feet at the end of the day.
The last two items seem a bit weird, I know. But believe me, they will be necessary!
Where to eat in Caraíva
There are great places to eat in Caraíva, get to know some of the best restaurants in the village:
Boteco do Pará
Boteco do Pará is known in the region as a great place to eat stingray fried pastel and to visit during the sunset, for staying by the river. Pará, owner of the bar and native fisherman from Caraíva, leaves it every day at 4 am in the morning with his boat to guarantee the freshest fish.
To give you an idea of prices, each small pastel costs R$ 12 and you can find 600ml beers from R$ 18 to R$ 20. Keep in mind that you will probably eat at least 2 pastéis.
Want some really delicious food? Or have a perfectly prepared lime caipirinha? At Caraíva Cachaçaria you will find dishes such as the Lamb Risotto (R$72) – which I loved -, you can taste tapioca dices with rennet cheese and pepper jelly for R$20, have caipirinhas for R$20-24 and, you will find a great list of cachaças to choose, besides being able to enjoy live music.
A great option for those looking for a cheap place to eat in Caraíva is Esfiha Caraíva, where you can find opened and closed esfihas at a cost of R$ 10-12 each. I tasted the chicken one and it might have been one of the best esfihas that I’ve ever eaten!
Tapioca and Acarajé da Paty
At Tapiocaria da Paty you can taste sweet and salted tapiocas for about R$25 each, I had a Nutella with banana one and it was very well filled. Other delicious options that you’ll find there are acarajé and açaí.
In addition to the ones I’ve mentioned, other recommendations I got from locals are: grilled fish at Koa Restaurant, Pizza do Porto, Mediterranean food at Jacaranda and Central Cuisine, which apparently serves very good food at a good price.
Where to stay in Caraíva
I had the fortunate opportunity to stay at Pousada Terra during my trip to Caraíva. The lodge is 31 years old and it was opened 2 years after the arrival of the owner, Elenice, in the village.
With an area of 5,000 m², the lodge has a small garden with fresh spices for guests, as well as a water filter so that the guests can fill reusable bottles and avoid unnecessary use of plastic. For the same purpose, the bathroom waste is wrapped in newspaper instead of plastic bags, showing their great concern for the environment.
The breakfast is amazing and makes my mouth water just by remembering it, always with fresh cake and impeccable tapiocas, made by the lovely staff. In fact, what most impressed me about this place, besides the sustainable initiatives, were the people from Pousada Terra, I feel that I made friends for life (I swear I almost cried when I left).
- At the Barra Beach region it’s highly recommended to walk around wearing flip-flops at all times, as there are reports of sandworms in that area. These little larvae can make you itch like crazy, so watch out.
- The only 3G signal that works in the region is from Vivo (a Brazilian telecom company) and it is only strong on the beach, but in the rest of the village, there is not even telephone signal.
- The wi-fi in the region is precarious and the lodges usually have the best services, but still, they are very sensitive to rain or wind.
- In Caraíva, everything is connected to the tide and you really need to understand how it works to decide the best time to walk around the beaches, so we recommend downloading the Tides Near Me app.
- There is no ATM in the region and you’ll need money in cash to pay the boatmen, vans, or even to get more affordable deals. Most establishments accept cards, but the internet can fail and ruin your payment. Some places charge 10 to 20% to deliver money back in exchange for any payment made in credit card, so tourists can have some cash while being there.
Sustainable tourism in Caraíva
As always, we end our articles with some tips, so that you can put them into practice for a more responsible tourism, and Caraíva, in particular, needs us to be extra aware so that this ecosystem, which is super fragile, manages to remain beautiful and magical for us, for the residents and for the environment for a long time. Check out our tips:
1) Do not use the donkeys, either to transport yourself or your suitcase: As mentioned earlier, with planning we don’t need this service and we can save animals from suffering.
2) Contribute to the local community: Whenever possible, give preference to consuming products and services offered by the natives. That way, you’ll make sure that the people who are enjoying the economic advantages of the destination are the people who need it the most.
3) Be aware of your garbage: Waste management in Caraíva is super complex and the city of Porto Seguro does not have a waste recycling program, so we recommend that you avoid producing garbage on your trip, and that you:
- Give preference to canned drinks: as the glass is heavy and voluminous, this makes a proper disposal even more difficult. Besides, glass bottles can break and get lost in the soft sands of the village, and you may even be the person who will step on the shard afterwards. The cans are light and, because they have a higher value, they are usually recycled.
- Make an effort to choose products without packaging, or wrapped with paper: we know that plastic is a major enemy of the oceans, and without recycling it is very likely that the packages ends up there. In case you end up having plastic packagings to dispose, if possible, take them with you to throw away in another city that has a recycling program.
I bet you got curious about this paradise and now can’t wait to visit it, right? I left Caraíva in love with every second I spent there and I guarantee you it won’t be any different with you. Enjoy without moderation, with environmental awareness and have a great trip!
- The values mentioned in this article are from December/2020 and January/2021 and can change at any time, they have been shared for reference only.
Agradecimento: Our stay at Pousada Terra was given as courtesy, but you can rest assured that all opinions expressed here are completely honest and based on our own experience =)
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