63km (39 miles) SW of Salvador

To really get away from it all (as if the rest of Bahia wasn't relaxed enough) consider the ultimate beach holiday in Morro de São Paulo or the even more remote little village of Boipeba. Built on an island only accessible by boat or plane, these small beachside villages are blissfully isolated -- no cars, no lights, no motorcars, though luxuries abound. The main mode of transport is your feet; wheelbarrows double as taxis transporting everything from luggage to food and drinks for the evening beach party.

Tip: Plan your trip from April through June to take advantage of low-season rates and enjoy peace and quiet in destinations such as Morro de São Paulo, Boipeba, and Barra Grande. However, call ahead to check if your chosen hotel is open. Many owners schedule their own vacations during these quiet months.

By sea, the best approach is by catamaran, leaving from behind the Mercado Modelo in downtown Salvador. A 2 1/2-hour boat ride brings you to Morro (as the locals refer to it), located on the island of Tinharé. As you approach, you'll notice the outline of a large hill (morro is "hill" in Portuguese) and the remnants of an old fort. Upon arrival locals with wheelbarrows vie for your business, offering to take your bags to your pousada for R$5 to R$10 per bag -- bargain hard and you should be able to get it for R$10 per wheelbarrow. A steep uphill trail takes you from the docks to the main village, which consists of only a handful of sand-covered streets. The main (sand-covered) street, called Broadway, leads from the main square down to the beaches. The beach at the bottom of the main street is called First Beach (Primeira Praia), followed by Second Beach (Segunda Praia), Third Beach (Terceira Praia), and so on. Most of the pousadas are on Second and Third beaches. The island itself is still lush and green, and the beaches vary from busy and fun to almost deserted.