Coconut trees sway gently in the warm breeze and a sandbar stretches far into the green-blue ocean at Ponta do Corumbau, one of the most pristine and scenic beach destinations in Brazil.
A district of Prado, one of best towns for humpback whale watching in Southern Bahia, Ponta do Corumbau is at the mouth of the Corumbau River, part of a mangrove ecosystem.
This bit of paradise, with its traditional fishermen communities, is still not too easy to reach (Corumbau is an indigenous word for a faraway place). The dirt roads get potholes after the rains and the best way is by boat. The area remained nearly untouched by tourism until luxury and charming pousadas opened in the area, mainly since 2000.
The beach gets even more beautiful during the low tide, when the sandbar is exposed. Ponta do Corumbau is close to Monte Pascoal National Park and the hill - the first sign of land seen by the Portuguese who discovered Brazil - can be seen in the distance.
It's easy to arrange a boat tour up the river, to nearby coral reefs or to humpback whale watching spots (from July to November), or go snorkeling at neighboring Tauá Beach. The indigenous Pataxó village is also close by.
How to Get to Ponta do Corumbau:
Ponta do Corumbau is about 73 kilometers (45.5 miles) north of Prado. When you book a pousada, ask about transfers.
There are boats to Ponta do Corumbau from Cumuruxatiba and Caraíva. Day tours of Ponta do Corumbau are available; in Curumuxatiba, look for Aquamar (73-3573-1360) and in Caraíva, contact ANAC, the local resident association.
Traveling by car from BR-101, the best (dirt) road into the area is through Itamaraju (about 67 kilometers, or 42 miles).
The dirt road alongside the shore through Barra do Cahy from Cumuruxatiba is more subject to potholes. Check conditions locally before traveling.
Where to Stay:
The gorgeous Tauana, by Portuguese architect Ana Catarina, has been sold and is now a private hotel for the owners and friends. But there are still fine places to stay on the beach, as well as more convenient options for budget travel.
- Pousada Fazenda São Francisco do Corumbau
Formerly a farm, hence the fazenda in its name, the boutique pousada has ultra comfortable bungalows, an attractive pool, and fine cuisine (organic vegetables are grown on the property) to compose its charming brand of luxury travel.
- Vila Naiá
The luxury hotel, recommended by Condé Nast Johanssens, has finely appointed bungalows and a naturally ventilated lounge - named Quadrado, or Square - with marble flooring and eco-friendly walls and roof.
- Loin de Tout
Far from it All: the French name of this beachfront guest house evokes Corumbau's name and origins. Owner Martine Renwart receives guests in a house with three well ventilated double rooms with private bathrooms and fans, a dining room facing the ocean and an exterior living room under the tropical almond trees.
- Village Jocotoka
The area's first hotel, opened in the 1980s, has a pool and a beach lounge.
- Pousada Corumbau
With bungalows and guest rooms, the pousada farther from the village than the rest is a less expensive alternative for stays on Ponta do Corumbau.
- Pousada Vivenda Xawã
Moderately priced and near the village center, the pousada (the name is pronounced sha-oo-AHN) has 16 guest rooms, a bar, a restaurant and a pool.
- Pousada Verabeli
Unfussy guest rooms with A/C, TV, private bathrooms and mini refrigerators; a pool, a barbecue grill area, a sauna, a bar and a restaurant are the amenities at this budget-friendly pousada.
Bahia's Whale Coast:
The Whale Coast (Costa das Baleias), in the southernmost tip of Bahia, includes the towns of Prado, Alcobaça, Caravelas, Nova Viçosa and Mucuri. This stretch of the state shoreline borders the Discovery Coast, so called because it's where the Portuguese first landed in Brazil.
Humpback whale watching; the Abrolhos Marine National Park, comprising the eponymous archipelago with volcanic islands, coral reefs and mangroves; beautiful beaches with cliffs (falésias) and coconut groves; and town centers dotted with colonial houses and churches are some of the top attractions on the Whale Coast.