New Year’s eve last year was spent a little differently. Instead of layering on the winter woolies and dancing into the early hours, this year was spent beach side in a secret location called Barra Grande, Brazil.
On a grassy area outside the hotel, our group of friends all dressed in white sat in a circle listening to live music. We were being serenaded by traditional song and acoustic guitar played by Alex, a local resident of Nirvana Beach Club. He sung, we danced, and we all watched the 1st of January roll in over the Brazilian horizon.
Dressed in the traditional colour of white for good luck, an ambience of peace and love was in the air. After the beachside fireworks lit up the sky at the strike of 12, we waded into the ocean and jumped over 7 waves as ritual of good luck. I felt like I was in a Jack Johnson film clip, somewhere far far far away and very exotic. And far away we were.
Rewind four days, my partner and I had spent 27 hours travelling to the magical beachside location of Barra Grande from Colombia. We left Medellin at 2.30pm to fly to Bogota, then and overnight flight to Rio where we met our friend Priscilla. We all then flew to Salvador and then flew to Ilhéus airport on the coast of Bahia. At 4pm, we rented a four wheeled drive to continue our adventure for 3 hours on a bumpy dirt sand road. And bumpy it was!
We were lucky that Priscilla had been there before and was being our amazing Brazilian tour guide. I’m not sure we would have found this place if it wasn’t for her great driving skills and patience with the bumpy roads. There were no street lights, no road signs and most parts of the road were only wide enough for one car. We did make one minor mistake (my bad) which cost us 30 minutes extra on the road, but that was all part of the fun.
Just after 7pm, we finally arrived at our destination: Nirvana Beach Club. I can’t explain to you the feeling that encapsulated me as we arrived at the gates of our hotel. We opened the gates to the tropical oasis and drove up to the main house where our luxury bungalows awaited our arrival. I couldn’t wait to get out of my clothes I had been in for over 24 hours and jump into the ocean. The only issue was Avianca lost my suitcase back in Rio so I was stranded in the middle of nowhere (literally) with nothing more than my laptop and the clothes I was wearing. I didn’t care at all, I was just so happy we had arrived, safely and in one piece. I could hear a Caprioska calling my name. Phoeeeeebeeeee…….. I’m waiting for you!
Barra Grande is a little piece of paradise located on the south coast of Bahia, in the northeast of Brazil. Situated in the Maraú Peninsula, the area has kilometres of gorgeous beaches and palm trees galore. If you feel like making the same lengthy journey to this far away tropical destination, it is definitely worth the effort. Just in case you’re not lucky enough to have a Brazilian tour guide as one of your friends, here are a few of my tips to help get you there:
WHERE: Barra Grande, Bahia, Brazil.
CLOSEST AIRPORT: Ilhéus
LANGUAGE: Portuguese (and not a lot of English)
CURRENCY: Brazilian Reis
HOW TO GET THERE:
From London, you need to fly to Salvador (no direct flights from London) so you the closest option is to fly to Lisbon. From Salvador you can either take a connecting flight to Ilhéus and drive for the additional 3 hours in a rented car. Alternatively, you can charter a small plane with a group of friends which will fly from Salvador to Barra Grande (approximately £650 for the whole plane).
There are a few car rental companies at Ilhéus airport but nearly all of them sell out of their cars in peak periods. My tip is to pre-book your 4WD well in advance so you don’t have to climb the sand dunes in a smart car (no thanks). You will literally tip over and get stuck. The cost is approximately £280 for the week. Alternatively, you can take a taxi to your hotel in Barra Grande which will cost approximately £50.
One of the faster options is to go to the city of Camamu and cross over to Barra Grande by boat. The ferry takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes and there are routes on a 35/40 minute base. You will then need a connection/pick up to take you to your hotel.
WHERE TO STAY
I can highly recommend Nirvana Beach Club for an intimate traditional setting in a tropical rainforest. A full review of the hotel will come soon. Alternatively, there are loads of beach side bungalows, hotels and traditional inns dotted along the coastline.
Head to my review on Nirvana Beach Club and stay tuned for what you can get up to in Barra Grande.
Hands up if you want to attempt to get here next year?