See the highlights of each island of Brazil’s first capital
“Ah, eu vim de Ilha de Maré, minha senhora / Pra fazer samba na lavagem do Bonfim.” Have you ever heard this song? It is an excerpt from a song by Walmir Lima who, in the voice of Alcione, projected the name of Ilha de Maré to the national scene in 1977. But did you know that, in fact, Ilha de Maré belongs to Salvador? And it ‘s not only this one. The capital of Bahia has two other insular parts: Ilha dos Frades and Bom Jesus dos Passos.
In other words, fulfilling the dream of many couples in love of going to a paradise island is possible in the capital of Bahia. Located in the suburbs of Salvador, they are known for their fine sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and beautiful landscapes. The islands of Salvador are just these three. Itaparica Island (Itaparica) is in another municipality, as is Morro de São Paulo (Cairu).
To visit the places, you can take boat or speedboat trips organized by several tourist agencies in Salvador. Another option is to rent a boat and take a private tour. There is still a more economical way which is to access the islands through the passenger terminals.
If you are in Salvador, you can visit each island in one day, but it is also possible to stay on the islands for a more complete experience.
Check the information below and plan your trip
Ilha de Maré (Maré Island)
This island has 11.01 km² and, according to the IBGE, has 4,236 residents. The place is simple and originated as a village of fishermen and quilombolas. It is famous for its moquecas, especially the peguari one. One of the most important symbols of the island is the Chapel of Nossa Senhora das Neves, built in colonial style in 1552 (one of the oldest in Brazil) and home to the island’s patron saint. Other highlights are the beaches of Itamoabo, das Neves, Praia Grande, Santana and Botelho.
How to get there? The crossing to Ilha de Maré can be done through the São Tomé de Paripe Waterway Terminal, in the suburb of Salvador. It lasts about 20 minutes and you will get off at Praia das Neves. Transport costs R$8 per person. The crossing is made daily until 5pm and depends on weather conditions. From there, it is possible to take boats to the other beaches with independent boatmen to take tours around the islands.
Ilha dos Frades (Frades Island)
With only 733 residents, Ilha dos Frades is the largest in Salvador in terms of extension. There are 13.63 km². Beaches, lagoons, waterfalls, mountains and typical Atlantic Forest vegetation, including pau-brasil, make up the scenery of the island, which has 15 points. In each of them, there is a beach. The best known are Loreto, Paramana and Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe. Two important buildings on the island are the churches of Nossa Senhora do Loreto and Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe.
How to get there?
You can leave the Nautical Tourist Terminal, in the Comércio district. The crossing takes about 1 hour and is made only with schooners, which go towards Ponta de Nossa Senhora.
Prices range from R$35 on. From any of the beaches on the island, it is possible to take independent boats to travel to the other beaches. The boatmen stay at the arrival terminal where it is possible to negotiate the price.
Another way is to leave the Madre de Deus Maritime Terminal (it is necessary to leave Salvador on the BR-324, going through a toll that charges R$ 2.90) to Paramana beach where boats leave for Ilha dos Frades. The fare costs R$ 6.40. The crossing takes about 20 minutes. Boats depart every hour from 7 am to 5 pm.
Ilha de Bom Jesus dos Passos (Bom Jesus dos Passos Island)
The smallest among the three islands of Salvador, Bom Jesus dos Passos has an area of 0.45 km² and 1,465 residents. The place lives on subsistence agriculture and fishing. The most popular beaches are Pontinha and Ponta do Padre, but, unlike Ilha de Maré and Ilha dos Frades, there are no wide strips of sand. The local cuisine is one of the highlights, especially for the seafood caught there.
How to get there: access is via boats departing from the Madre de Deus Maritime Terminal. The crossing takes about 15 minutes and costs R$ 6.40. The boats leave Madre de Deus every 30 minutes, from 7 am to 8 pm. It is possible to make the official crossing of the Terminal or charter a boat for a day trip.