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Todos os Santos Bay, the largest bay in Brazil, is a popular destination among sailing enthusiasts. Boat trips regularly depart from Salvador and the other cities in the Reconcavo Baiano area. Salvador, considered by some the best base in the Northeast for water sports tourism, regularly hosts international regattas.

The Mar Grande-Salvador Crossing Race is held here every December, when dozens of competitors plunge into the water to swim the 12 kilometers from Itaparica Island to Barra Beach.

Itaparica, Ilha dos Frades, Ilha da Mare, and other islands in the bay can be reached by public catamarans and ferries that depart from São Joaquim terminal (next to tile Market of the same name; Avenida Oscar Pontes, 1051, Água de Menino).

Baía de Todos os Santos is one of the best places in Brazil for diving: the average water temperature is 26°C (79°F) and visibility is as great as 20 meters. In addition to the teeming marine life of the reds, there are about forty sunken ships under the waters of the bay. Fifteen of them can be reached by boat from Barra Beach.

Map of Todos os Santos Bay in Bahia

Map of Todos os Santos Bay in Bahia

Map of Todos os Santos Bay

Particularly worth visiting is the Portuguese command vessel Sacramento, which sank in 1668 to a depth of 30 meters (100 feet), and the 180-meter-long (590 feet) Greek cargo ship Cavo Artemide. The Germania and the Bretagne, both of which sank in 19th century, are 150 meters (490 feet) from Praia do Farol beach in only 8 meters (26 feet) of water and can be reached by swinm1ers. Some agencies organize night trips.

The homage paid to Iemanjá in the Rio Vermelho neighborhood annually on February 2 (see Rio Vermelho) is not the only religious boat procession in Salvador.

Continuing a tradition that began in the 18th century, on the morning of the first day of the new year dozens of small boats take to the bay’s waters in honor of Bom Jesus dos Navegantes (Jesus, protector of sailors).

The retinue congregates at Nossa Senhora da Conceiҫão da Praia Church, in the Comercio neighborhood, and processes to Nossa Senhora da Boa Viagem Church, in the neighborhood of Barra.

Map of Baía de Todos os Santos in Portuguese

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lIha de Itaparica offers a tranquil atmosphere and a beautiful view of the city, and is only 20 minutes by catamaran or 50 minutes by ferry.

The island is divided into two municipalities, Vera Cruz and Itaparica.

The Vera Cruz coast, which faces Salvador, is known for its natural beauty-Visitors usually come ashore at Mar Grande and make their way to the quieter beaches of Barra do Gil, Penha, and Conceiҫão , which are nonetheless dotted with resorts, summer condos, and guesthouses.

The Itaparica municipality is home to some photogenic historical sites and the Bom Despacho ferry terminal. There are several pleasant squares in the town center. Sete de Janeiro Square commemorates the events of January 7, when regional troops resisted the Portuguese in the War of Independence.

There is also a fort, old homes, and other historic buildings, including the Igreja de Sao Lourenzo, built in 1610. Praҫa da Quitanda, a square full of bars and restaurants with outdoor tables, is a lovely place to sit and enjoy the sunset.

On weekends there are long lines for the ferry to Itaparica. The island can also be reached by car, via a bridge near the town of Nazaré das Farinhas.

From Salvador, go west on the BR-324 highway and then take BR-101 south through Nazaré das Farinhas. The 292-kilometer (181-mile) drive is only worth the effort, if you are planning on visiting the south coast as well.


If you are on Itaparica Island during Holy Week, it’s worth going to the town of Cacha Pregos and finding a spot on a boat to Feira dos Caxixis de Nazaré.

That fair is held in Nazaré, a 16th century town in Reconcavo Baiano. Market vendors sell distinctive ceramics from Maragogipinho, located 10 kilometers (6 miles) from Nazare on the banks of the Rio Jaguaripe River.

Red clay is used to make vases, water jugs, decorative objects, and caxixis, miniatures popular with children. There are 110 hotels, but anyone wishing to stay overnight can do so in neighboring Santa Antonio de Jesus, 32 kilometers (20 miles) away. If you are coming from Salvador, you can skip the boat trip and simply drive 216 kilometers (134 miles) southwest along BR.-324 to reach Nazaré.


The Reconcavo Baiano region encompasses 33 municipalities in the area surrounding Todos os Santos Bay.

The town of Cachoeira, on the west bank of the Rio Paraguaҫu river, is home to many important examples of colonial baroque architecture. Across the river from Cachoeira is São Felix; the two towns are connected by the Ponte Dom Pedro II bridge.

Both towns are approximately 116 kilometers (72 miles) from Salvador. Among the symbols of their former status as economic powers are its churches. Igreja Matriz de Nossa Senhora do Rosario (Rua Ana Nery) was built between 1693 and 1754. Take a moment to look at the tiled murals in the main chapel and the fine nave ceiling. Besides the 18th century Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Conceiҫão do Monte (Largo do Monte), attractions include the Casa de Oraҫão (House of Prayers) , which is also known as Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Carmo, and the Igreja da Ordem Terceira do Carmo (Rua Inocencio Boaventura), which was built in 1778 and is currently under restoration.

Tobacco became a lucrative agricultural enterprise in neigh boring São Felix. The baiana known as Nega sets up stall in the square every afternoon to sell her famous abarás and acarajés.

São Felix and Cachoeira can be explored on foot in two days.



The town council chamber and prison building was constructed between 1698 and 1712 and was last renovated in 1789. In 1822 it served as the seat of the Bahia state government; today it houses the Town Council Chamber and the Museu dos Escravos (Slave Museum). Notice the robust walls made of stone and whale-oil mortar: they were built to withstand frequent flooding of the Paraguaҫu River. Praҫa da Aclimaҫão, Centro.


The Museu Regional de Cachoeira, located in a lovely house built in the 1720s, exhibits furniture from the 17th,18th and 19’h centuries, as well as a large collection of documents, photographs, books, and newspapers connected to the town’s history.

As you enter, notice the mark on the left hand wall near the stairs; it illustrates the level reached by river waters during the last flood in 1989. Praҫa da Aclimaҫão, Centro).


The Irmandade da Boa Morte (The Sisterhood of the Good Death) was established nearly 250 years ago by freed female slaves.

It is one of the few confraternities in the Americas devoted to final days of Our Lady. It brings together women over the age of fifty for the traditional Nossa Senhora da Boa Morte festivities, which take place in the sisterhood ’s headquarters on August 13th 14th and 15th.

Celebrations include processions, samba, capoeira performances, and an abundance of local dishes, including feijoada, vatapá, caruru, cozido (a meat and vegetable stew), and maniҫoba (manioc leaves with pork and sausage).

The event is one of the main draws around the world for self-consciously „black tourism“ and every year it attracts visitors from Africa and the United States. The sisterhood’s buildings house a memorial to Our Lady, a colonial style chapel, and an exhibition room. Rua Treze de Maio, 32, Centro.


The faҫade of the early 18th century São João de Deus Hospital building is an imposing presence in the Cachoeira town square. The Igreja do Hospital São João de Deus church is annexed to the hospital. Praҫa Doutor Aristidis Milton, Centro.


Capela de Nossa Senhora d’Ajuda, the oldest chapel in the city, was built between 1595 and 1606.

Simple and unadorned, it honors Our Lady of Ajuda, the patron saint of sugarcane plantations. Slaves revered her and used to place her statue on the chapel steps to calm the waters of the Paraguaҫu River during flood season.

The Festa de Nossa Senhora d’Ajuda festivities, held at the beginning of November, include a ritual washing of the stairs, as well as masses, capoeira and samba performances, and traditional afoxé presentations, which include music-accompanied parades of African-style dancers. Largo dajuda.


The streets of Cachoeira are home to artists and artisans who find their inspiration in Reconcavo. In the 1960s, Louco created statues of orixás and Catholic saints fr’om wood. After his death his son Louco Filho (Rua Treze de Maio, 18, Centro) continued his work and has trained his own students, including Fory (Rua Treze de Maio, 31), Dory (Praҫa Ivone Bessa Ramos, 13), Mimo (Rua Manuel Paulo Filho, 1) and Doidão (Rua Ana Nery, 42).

African culture is also the subject of woodcut prints by Davi Rodrigues (Rua J. J. Seabra, 68, centro). Examples of these artists‘ work can be seen at Cafe Pouso da Palavra, a pleasant bookstore and art
gallery (Praҫa da Aclamaҫão, 8, Centro).


Boat trips on the Paraguaҫu are typically long (up to three hours) and often tiring.

The boats depart from the Cachoeira port quays. The first site on your tour will be the old Engenho Vitória sugarcane plantation; it’s best to pass on this optional stop as the ill-kept buildings are more beautiful from afar than close up. Further on, is Igreja de Santo Antonio church in the village of São Francisco do Paraguaҫu.

The mid-17th century church is beautiful. São Francisco do Paraguaҫu can also be reached by heading west along highway BA-026 toward the town of Santo Amaro; it is 47 kilometers (29 miles) from Cachoeria, 22 of them on dirt road.


The 1830 sobrado houses a collection of nearly 13,000 pieces associated with the German artist Karl Heinz Hansen, known locally as Hansen Bahia. Hansen embraced Brazil with such devotion that he changed his name to honor the state that was the central theme of his vast number of works. He died in 1978, and bequeathed most of his work to cities of Cachoeira and São Felix. In the Fundaҫão e
Museu Hansen Bahia, the most impressive examples of his work are the woodcut prints entitled O impressor e a musa (The Printer and the Muse),and the untranslated series Flor de São Miguel. The
house where he lived in São Felix is now a museum that preserves his furniture and other possessions and educates visitors about his life’s work: Foundation: Rua Treze de Maio, 13, Cachoeira. Hansen Bahia`s House: Ladeira Santa Barbara, São Felix.


Santo Amaro da Purificaҫão still bears traces of the prosperity that made its name known in the days of the sugar barons.

The historical Casa de Camara e Cadeia (Council Chamber and Prison) and the Convento dos Humildes convent, both built in colonial style during the 18th century, are surrounded by modern conmlercial buildings. The town comes alive during the first two weeks of May for Bembé do Mercado festivities.

The samba de roda, popular at that festival, is a performance of music and dance that originated here. If you are traveling toward Cachoeira and São Felix along BR-324, Santo Amaro lies on the way, 70 kilometers (44 miles) southwest from Salvador.


The Bembé do Mercado festival celebrates the signing of the Lei Áurea, which officially abolished slavery on May 13, 1888. According to legend, on the first anniversary of the signing, former slaves flocked to Praҫa do Mercado square to celebrate.

Instead of speeches, all that could be heard was the beat of bembé, a drum whose name is a distortion of candomblé.

On the following day offerings were made to the goddess Iemanjá. Since then, the ritual has been repeated on the first fortnight in May. Today, the celebration includes music and traditional dances like the maculele, capoeira, and samba de roda.


The imposing baroque faҫade of the Igreja Matriz de Nossa Senhora da Purificaҫão hints at the ornate interior and its seven altars.

The nave and sacristy walls are covered with Portuguese tiles and the ceiling painting depicts the purification of Mary. Between January 23rd and February 2nd celebrations, masses, and processions associated with the Nossa Senhora da Purificaҫão festivities bring the town alive with sound and color. Praҫa da Purificaҫão, Centro.


The small village of São Francisco do Conde, 66 kilometers (41 miles) from Salvador, was founded in 1697 around the Igreja e Convento de Santo Antonio church and convent. Last renovated in the early 18th century, the church is in dire need of restoration but is still worth a visit.

The central nave is decorated with Portuguese tiles, and the sacristy and altar depict scenes from the Bible and the life of Saint Anthony.

Todos os Santos Bay travel Guide and tourism information such as accommodation, festivals, transport, maps, activities and attractions in Bahia, Brazil – Brazil Travel Guide

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