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Feb
20

Don’t Tell Anyone About Trancoso

People in the know, know about Trancoso. This is a beach town that is the ultimate combo of laid-back and chic, small-town and big city. But don’t you forget it, here it’s all about the beach. Shops don’t open until 3pm because everyone’s at the beach.

see, that's what I'm talking about

see, that's what I'm talking about

Trancoso is a fishing village on Brazil’s Bahia coast, founded by Jesuits in 1586 as São João Batista dos Índios. Its tiny 16th-century church, is one of the oldest in Brazil. It’s super cute too.

original church

original church

It was basically undiscovered until the Seventies when a group of cool kids from rich São Paulo’s looking for something mellow. They found it, loved it and even brought craftsmen from all over Brazil to build their dream homes here.

Beach

Beach

Sadly that means that high season, December and New Year, Trancoso is to be avoided. Expensive and booked, it’s often referred to as “St-Tropez in the Fifties”. But if you go off-season, it’s magical.  Do it before April though or you’ll get caught in the rain.

The first thing most people do is head to The Quadrado, a large, rectangular “village green” with the all-white São João Batista church overlooking the beach and sea. The green is the center of Trancoso life, filled with capoeira, evening soccer games and kids just hanging out.

the green

the green

Where to stay? Try Wilbert Das’s pousada (hotel), Uxua, pronounced “Ooshua”. Owned by the design director of the fashion company Diesel in Italy, this is a beautiful spot.

It’s basically a number of broken-down fishermen’s cottages which he converted into super fun, unique as hell casas. The furniture and decoration were all sourced locally, and there are surprises everywhere like the television set inside an open old suitcase.

the villas

the villas

All the casas are different  and at the heart of the hotel is the bar, restaurant and a super cool swimming pool.

the pool

the pool

Head on down to the beach and hang out at Uxua’s beach bar, partly made from an old fishing boat, where you can lounge in the sun, eat or sleep always most of your day.

Open later are the beach bars and clubs. Trancoso’s night life feels more like an expensive São Paulo nightclub — beach style. Young women wear high-cut party dresses, the men body-hugging Italian shirts and Bermuda shorts. But thankfully, people leave their Jimmy Choos at home and almost everyone wears flip flops, the better to dance with.

parties never stop

parties never stop

The fun never ends. At 3 a.m. on a Saturday at the Pink Elephant, young women in tight pink outfits with white feather headdresses prance through the club with Champagne bottles and sparklers. The wooden deck shook, with all the dancers. By 4:30 a.m. the sun is coming up and the dancers start to go to bed. And for those of you who want to leave Transcoso, see Espelho Beach – about six miles south, protected by a reef. The water is absolutely flat. Eat fresh fish from a shack there in a mangrove shack of a longtime resident, Silvia Calazans, who will fill you with stories about Trancoso and the celebrities who come there.

Espelho Beach

Espelho Beach

praia-do-espelho

praia-do-espelho

The best hotels

Pousada Etnia Eight bungalows, each in a different ethnic style (Goa, Gypsy, Kyoto…), in a peaceful, verdant and shady setting among palms; decent pool and open-air restaurant

Uxua The super-chic accommodation of choice in Trancoso, with nine beautifully styled casas just off the village “square”.

The best restaurants

Mangia An Italian restaurant whose bear-like chef/proprietor, Martin Molinari, is from Italy via Buenos Aires.

Maritaca A light, airy place with great pizza.

Argentina Parilla The best meat in Trancoso can be found here and is imported because Brazilian beef doesn’t always cut it. Believe it or not.

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