Arembepé is a small beach and coastal town in the state of Bahia, Brazil. It lies about 50km north of Bahia's capital, Salvador, and is an excellent beach retreat from the hectic city life.
Arembepé is one of the small towns along the Coconut Coast (PT: Estrada do Côco) in the prefecture of Camaçari which has its claim to fame because of the hippie movement in the late 1960s and 1970s. Arembepé became known as an enclave for hippies and attracted several well-known personalities during this era.
Since then, Arembepé's popularity has declined, and today it is a quiet beach town that retains many elements of the traditional fishing way of life. Unlike its more touristic counterpart further along the coast, Praia do Forte, Arembepé has an authentic vibe, relatively untouched by international and regional tourism, largely only receiving visitors during the weekend from the neighboring Salvador. As such, it is unlikely to find anyone in Arembepé who speaks English or any other language but Portuguese, although one might have better luck communicating in Spanish.
It is relatively easy to drive to Arembepé as it lies almost directly along the highway BR-099. Look out for the sign for Arembepé, or more noticeably, a large sign for Camaçari.
Buses leave the main Rodoviaria in Salvador approximately once every 40minutes, and the journey takes about an hour. Alternatively, buses also leave from Terminal Françes (along Avenida Françes, near Mercado Modelo in Cidade Baixo) at the same frequency. Companies that ply this route are Linha Verde (white buses) and BTU (red buses). Bus tickets cost about R$4-6 and can be bought on board.
The town is small enough to be explored on foot, with most shops, restaurants and accommodations being clustered around the main plaza. Other beaches are also easily reached on foot, although there are a readily available supply of taxis and moto taxis for those who prefer not to walk. Buses do not operate within the town, although they provide easy access to surrounding towns.
- Beaches. With a long stretch of coast unspoiled by trash and other eyesores, Arembepé's beaches are a fantastic sight to behold - clean shores dotted with coconut trees and clear, translucent waters. Some of the more popular beaches to visit are Praia Barra do Jacuipe, Praia do Arembepé, Praia Genipabu, Praia Jaua and Praia do Pirui. During low tides, Praia do Pirui turns into a piscina natural (natural swimming pool) where one can swim without worrying about strong currents. edit
- Aldeia Hippie. About 3km from the main plaza, Aldeia Hippie is a remnant of Arembepé's hippie days, which attracted the likes of Janis Joplin and Nick Jagger during the peak of the hippie movement. Some hippies still live there, making and selling a variety of handicrafts and jewelry. Visitors are free to explore and learn more about the alternative lifestyle. Aldeia Hippie also offers accommodation for those wishing to spend a few days in a rustic environment. edit
- Projeto Tamar, ☎ 3624-3694 / 8127-0038 / 9979-0392 ([email protected]), . Monday to Sunday, 9am-5pm. Extended opening hours to 6pm in summer. A preservation center for endangered species of turtles in Brazil where one can learn more about conservation efforts. The reserve houses several adult turtles and incubators for eggs. Staff are friendly and will share information about the turtles. Daily feeding at 1600hrs. R$5. edit
- Weekend Market. On weekends and holidays, the main plaza in the town is transformed into a marketplace where vendors sell local delicacies and handicrafts in the evening. edit
- Surf. Arembepé's beaches are perfect for surfing, and it is possible to surf most of the day. Beginners can take classes as well - just inquire with the lifeguards on the beach or ask any of the surfers on the beach. edit
- Meditation and healing workshops and courses, Área de Proteção Ambiental do Rio Capivara, ☎ (071) 3624-2340/ (071) 9908-4700 / (071) 8817-2711 ([email protected]), . Located a 10 minute drive from the town's centre, Sitio Folha d'Agua is a natural retreat and tranquil sanctuary for those seeking inner peace and well-being. One can participate in creative workshops, healing sessions or courses related to meditation and relaxation as well as engage in wellness therapies. Visitors are admitted by prior arrangement only. edit
Other than the usual beach fare of swimwear, sunglasses and floppy hats, visitors to Arembepé can purchase local handicrafts from street vendors. There are also shops selling fishing and surfing equipment, clustered around the main plaza.
Acarajé is a typical Baian dish consisting of deep fried patties made of bean paste, served with shrimp and salad - absolutely delicious and available at most restaurants, but the more adventurous should sample some sold by the street vendors.
Moqueca is a rich seafood stew with coconut milk, usually prepared with the catch of the day or assorted shellfish provided by the local fishermen.
Coco Gelada is fresh green coconut which makes for a refreshing drink and snack on hot days. Usually plucked from coconut trees growing along the coast, the coconut water is refreshing, and the flesh within is a tasty but healthy snack.
- Restaurante do Nerluza. Located right on the main plaza. Serves delicious food at very reasonable prices. On Fridays, they serve moqueca as the dish of the day (besides other dishes), but arriving early is important as they usually sell out by 1330hrs. R$10-15 for dish of the day. edit
- Restaurante Fogao de Lenha. Comida caseira (buffet where you pay according to the weight of your food) that offers a decent selection of Brazilian dishes - rice, beans, meats, pastas, salads. edit
- Mar Aberro, Largo de São Francisco 43. A good but pricey restaurant with an excellent location right on the beach. Serves very good bacalhau a brasileira, and manjar makes for a good dessert. R$45-55. edit
There is no shortage of drinks in Arembepé with many vendors selling beers on the beach. On weekends, little stands appear around the main plaza selling cocktails, ranging from the usual caipirinhas and vodka colas to more exotic Baiana drinks.
Nightlife in Arembepé is mostly limited to weekends or holidays, during which the entire main plaza is transformed into a open air nightclub, with people blasting music from their cars. Cheap beers are also available for sale on almost every corner.
- Bom Bar. Attracts a lively local crowd most days with cheap beers and bar snacks as well as TVs that show football games. edit
There is a decent selection of small pousadas (guest houses) in and around the main plaza of Arembepé. They usually accept walk-in visitors with no need for prior reservations, especially during the low season. Because they are mostly family run businesses, they afford travellers with a comfortable homely feel.
- Pousada A Capela, Praia do Pirui, lote 11, ☎ 11 99257-9675. Charming, clean pousada which opens out to a gorgeous stretch of isolated beach. Good, attentive staff and great breakfast. edit
- Pousada Vilamar, Rua das Flores. Nice, simple pousada with decent amenities and friendly staff. Location is convenient and close to the main plaza. edit
- Pousada Aguas do Pirui, Rua do Pirui. Good pousada with excellent service and breakfast. Short distance from main plaza. edit
- Information Point (PT: Posto do Informaçoes). 10am-5pm. Provides information of the entire coastal stretch, but lacks any maps of the town itself. Has lots of information on pousadas and restaurants in the area. edit
- Praia do Forte Also along the coast, a bigger town with a larger selection of restaurants and pousadas, but also more tourists.
- Mangue Seco Quiet little beach village whose main attraction is the sand dunes
- Guarajuba Excellent beach
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