Trancoso Travel Guide

Espelho is one of Bahia’s loveliest beaches, a vivid collage of blue water, creamy yellow sand, red cliffs, and lush green forest. Driftwood and coconuts wash up with the tide. Rivers and streams emerge from nowhere to snake into the sea.

Run by the Pousada Etnia, this shop has Osklen bikinis and swim trunks; colorful tops and dresses from Rio’s Cantão label; and a good selection of hats and handbags.

The second-oldest church in Brazil was built by Portuguese settlers in 1586. Its defiantly plain façade—broken by a door, a window, and a wooden cross—is a fitting image for this place of uncomplicated pleasures.

Rent a car at the airport—it’s an hour to Trancoso—or hire a driver ($113) through Mangue Alto Turismo. Owner Henrique Costa speaks fluent English and knows the region well.

Among the diapers and canned hearts of palm are dozens of Havaianas at only $6 a pair (a fourth of the cost on the Quadrado).

João Calazans, a.k.a. Calá, was an original Trancoso biribando. His ceramics, shown at his studio on the Quadrado, are among the best in town.