Slow down, relax, the world will survive a few days without you. That message comes across loud and clear when you dock at Morro de São Paulo, a small village on the Brazilian island of Tinharé just south of Salvador. Surrounded by pristine beaches and dense jungle, Morro is one of Brazil’s oldest Portuguese settlements – and it doesn’t look like it’s in any rush to modernize. Cars are prohibited, the primary sources of transport are donkeys and walking, and the only way to get to the town is by boat or light aircraft. You don’t have much choice but to dial it back a bit here.
It’s not as if there’s any need to go far or do much. Great beaches and restaurants are a stone’s throw from most of the accommodation in the village, and young men carting wheelbarrows do most of the heavy lifting, literally, carting luggage and supplies to and from local pousadas (inns) and restaurants. All you have to do is sit back, order a caipirinha, and take in the pleasures of Brazilian beach life.
If you do choose to stray from the beach, Morro sites include the ruins of a fort established in the town in the 17th century to ward off Dutch invaders. A fortress gate just above the dock greets visitors arriving by boat, while a walk up to a lighthouse behind the fort will reward you with spectacular views of the island. Back in town you’ll find the large Nossa Senhora da Luz church, which reportedly helped fool the Dutch into thinking the Portuguese had a viable presence on the island.
Or you can just stay in your pousada, relax, and watch the world go by. My wife and I took in great sunsets from our balcony every evening, and every morning the sun rose again to greet us, a reminder that the world survived another day without us.