Was that a rainforest nymph or Alessandra Ambrosio running barefoot across the Quadrado? In Trancoso, a fishing village cum fairy tale getaway in Brazil’s Bahia province actually comes off as one of the most unique places on earth. Like a page out of a storybook, this frozen-in-time speck of a resort town is very far (at least two flights plus a beyond bumpy two hour drive through the Discovery Coast’s Atlantic Forest Reserves) off the beaten path, making it all the more posh.
Village life is centered around the aforementioned Quadrado, a horseshoe-shaped town square edged with a rainbow of candy colored houses, some of which are artisan shops, others restaurants with plein air seating, a few yet are rustic chic hotels (UXUA is top of the list). The bucolic grassy clearing at its center is dotted with happily roaming horses, sturdy donkeys pulling wooden carts, and little old men selling the essentials - flowers, fresh coconuts, acai. At one end you’ll find the quaint 16th century São João Batista Catholic church; venture ten minutes further on foot and you’ll arrive at the small but pristine beach, which is divided in two by a crystal clear river – AKA, heaven. Palm shaded thatched roof huts serve fresh seafood and caipirinhas, the closest thing to a beach club on offer. As night falls, the Quadrado’s cocoa trees are festooned with lanterns as incognito billionaires position themselves at Ristorante da Silvana and Maritaca’s best tables for the evening’s people watching.
While Rio is renowned for wall-to-wall beach bunnies and dusk to dawn parties, Trancoso takes Brazilian seaside life at a more languorous pace – sun worshippers trickle in at 2PM, shops open at about 5 o’clock and dinner is an hour before midnight, give or take. Expect to be patient – service is lackadaisical, English is spoken at below a bare minimum, and ATMs, which rarely function properly, can be counted on one hand. On that note, its best to bring wads of extra cash – don’t be fooled by the chilled atmosphere, because this fantasy town is going to cost you. Yet, relaxation and tranquility should be the mindset here – enjoy a spa treatment or take a cooking or capoeira class if you really must do something. That is, if you don’t go during high season – the weeks surrounding Christmas and New Year’s Eve – when anyone who is anyone choppers in from Sao Paolo or flies the fashion nest (Naomi Campbell, DVF), promptly decamping to the town’s best villas for champagne fueled revelry. Join them in kicking off the Southern Hemisphere’s summer to ring in the New Year by jumping seven waves, whilst making seven wishes, wearing head-to-toe white, as is tradition.
Indulge in laid back dressing for a trip to this bastion of serenity – essentially you need only to pack a couple kaftans (extra points for white), a sundress or two (Mara Hoffman would do you well), a few tops (crochet!), jean shorts (and we mean shorts), bikinis (yep, Brazilian cut is best – try local favorite Lenny), hand-crafted jewelry (wooden bangles, beaded lariats), and if you insist on wearing shoes, only Havaianas or leather sandals will do – no heels please. Braid your hair in to boho plaits and keep the makeup minimal to highlight your now bronzed skin. Feel free to channel your inner Gisele, because in Trancoso, life is but a dream.