I have been coming to Morro De Sao Paulo since 1993 and even if it has become more and more touristy over the years, it’s still my favourite spot in the world for doing nothing but chilling out.
I have been to +70 countries in my life and travel more than 300 days a year, so I see a lot of beaches. I have come across a lot of beaches that I love, but Morro De Sao Paulo in Northeast Brazil is special to me.
Morro de Sao Paulo has no cars.
The number one reason why Morro De Sao Paulo is just a little better than almost all other beach places is that the place has no cars. Many beach towns are destroyed by having busy highways right next to the beach. It’s noisy, you need to use land for parking lots and you just get all these annoying types who is not in to the beach, but just want to drive their car up and down the street in the hope that someone will look at them and their car. I like to be in a place, where the only noise that wakes me up is the sound of the waves and the samba reggae from the nearest bar. And this is exactly what I get on Morro De Sao Paulo.
The wheelbarrow capitol of the world.
Because there is no cars on the island, due to the size of the place and the elevation, many tourists are not happy to carry their luggage from the pier, where the boats arrive to the hotel. That has created jobs for dozens of local guys, who transport luggage for the tourists in wheelbarrows to and from their hotel. It’s quite funny and quirky to watch all this constant wheelbarrow traffic coming through town and I just love it. More than 100 people get employment from something that creates no air pollution and no noise pollution.
Postcard like beaches.
On Morro De Sao Paulo you have 4 main beaches and they are called number 1, 2, 3 and 4. Or in Brazilian Primera Praia, Segunda Praia, Terceira Praia and Quarta Praia. The number 2 beach is especially pretty, as it curves just the way a real bounty beach should and have the palm trees put in a way that just makes it perfect. This has turned the place in to the hotspot these days and some of my old friends from the early 1990’s will probably miss the days where we only had 3 little bars on the beach, but it’s still pretty and highrise construction has been kept away from the place, so I am not complaining. We still have the other beaches on the island, where you can escape the upper class crowd.
And when I compare the place to some beach places like Phuket, Bali and Surfers Paradise (should be called Surfers Shithole), where the beaches don’t see sun several hours a day because ugly highrise buildings blocks the sun, then I am really happy that Morro De Sao Paulo has not gone down that alley.
I have also come across beaches in southern Brazil that has turned in to condo nightmares. But because Morro De Sao Paulo is an island that has so much elevation that paved roads are quite hard to build, the place has stayed really nice.
And then you have the advantage that the island is mainly visited by Brazilians and other South Americans, giving it a Brazilian vibe. I’m not really in to these islands where almost all the tourists are westerners and the people from the actual country you visit are only the people who serve you food and drink. Morro De Sao Paulo has more than 90% South American tourists and I love that. Brazilians ans Argentinians are a great crowd to hang out with too.
getting to Morro De Sao Paulo.
Morro De Sao Paulo is connected by boat with the big city Salvador. It’s a catamaran ferry that takes about two and a half hours. You can also go to Morro De Sao Paulo from the smaller town Valenca, which is closer to the island. There you can chose a fast boat or the slower boats that carry goods to the island. If you are prone to being seasick, then I would recommend taking the boat from Valenca as that is a fairly easy ride, while the catamaran ferry ride from Salvador can be quite bumpy.
So if you want a beach place, where you have tourist facilities like accommodation in all price ranges, a good choice of restaurants, a decent nightlife, but would like to avoid traffic noise, Mc Donald’s, highrise buildings and such, then I would recommend Morro De Sao Paulo.
It’s touristy, but it’s touristy in the way that I don’t mind.