Trancoso
Overview

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.

Stay

Where to stay

Indulge

Indulge

DINING

Hot spot Maritaca is equally as famous for its wood-over baked thin crust pizzas, rich pastas and delicate carpaccios, as it is for its upscale clientele. Sushi Trancoso serves its namesake, highlighting the influence of Brazil’s native Japanese population with fresh local fish. A mix of world and jazz music set the scene for hobnobbing at Masala, a perennial meeting place featuring a blend of Thai, Indian and Chinese dishes. For upscale Portuguese fare plus a sizeable cachaca list, head to date night at the cliff side El Gordo, which also affords poolside seating and a supreme view of the river and ocean. Claiming to hold the original secrets of Bahian home style cooking has worked for Restaurante Silvana. Perfect for people watching, a table here is the ideal place to start a night out – be sure to ask a local for the secret Sunday special, as they are the only ones who know about it. Last, but certainly not least, hire a private driver for an hour’s ride to remote beach, Praia do Espelho (named ‘mirror’ for its calm as glass water), for Silvinha’s lunch. Not much more than a beach hut, grab a table on the open-sided loggia and wait for the fresh-from-the-sea delicacies to start arriving - the day’s catch is what’s on order – there is no set menu. Be sure to call in advance, as this hidden gem is slowly but surely being discovered by gastronomes and vacationers the world over.

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NIGHTLIFE

Pé Na Praia is a barracas, or beach lounge, on Rio Verde, popular with the young, toned and tanned. Stroll by for a sundowner or make a night of it after dinner. If you’re in to whiling away the afternoon taking bikini selfies and dancing to international DJ sets, booze fueled Tostex is for you. Para-Raio is another hipper-than-thou spot that has been flooding Trancoso with electronic beats from its famed parties for twenty years. Monkey Bar's tropical palm garden sets the stage for a romantic cocktail hour à deux.

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Explore

Explore

If you vacation in Brazil, you’d better come back with a tan (but very tiny tan lines!). Trancoso boasts some of the best beaches in the in country, such as Praia dos Nativos, popular with sunbathers, while the surfers head to Praia de Itaquena for perfect 5 ft. waves. A day kayaking on secluded Praia do Rio da Barra is idyllic, but if you prefer more of a scene and a cerveja to wash it all down, check out Praia dos Coqueiros for plenty of beach shacks and restos, while Praia do Espelho is not to be missed for both its namesake natural effect (its called ‘mirror’ for its calm as glass water) and a lunch at Silvanha’s. If you’re with a group, try an afternoon biking, trekking or skin diving, but if its romance you’re after, a horseback ride along the beach with your main squeeze and some local cowboys if for you. Giddy up! In town, the Quadrado is the center of life, morning till night. Take a moment of reflection at the São João Batista church, watch the local kids practice futebol, take a capoeira class, and visit the shops. When you’ve had enough, hit your hotels spa. The rest of the time, its eating, drinking, seeing and being seen.

SHOP

Where to Shop

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Shopping is centered around - you guessed it - the Quadrado. With the steep import taxes, its best to choose domestically produced souvenirs and indulgences. To bring a little piece of Trancoso home, the best buys here are decor, with Divinos, Bela Estampa and Marcenaria Trancoso stocking mostly hand-crafted pieces. The big names in Brazil fashion – like Olsken – are here, too.

Shop the Destination

Mara Hoffman Cutout Tie-Front Romper $195.00
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Ettika Pom Pom Choker $39.00
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Kisuii Maia Lace Shift Dress $350.00
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Le Specs The Prince Frameless Mirrored Aviator Sunglasses $89.00
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Cecilia Prado Daciana Triangle Bikini $218.00
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Lila Eugénie Floral Crochet Wrap Dress $300.00
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Adriana Degreas Ruffled silk crepe de chine maxi skirt $695.00
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Ancient Greek Sandals Apli Eleftheria snakeskin-effect leather sandals
$320.00
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Nannacay Margarida Woven Tote $325.00
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Adriana Degreas Floral-print bikini $295.00
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Lisa Marie Fernandez Mira Flunce Maillot swimsuit
$395.00
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Alexandre Birman Clarita Gingham Sandals $495.00
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DANNIJO Ipyana woven, oxidized silver-plated and Swarovski crystal earrings $295.00
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Tooshie Reversible Triangle Bikini Top $135.00
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Tooshie Reversible Side Tie String Bikini Bottom $135.00
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Mara Hoffman Exclusive Lace-up swimsuit $245.00
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