Praia do Forte – A Brazilian Tropical Paradise
Praia do Forte is many people’s idea of the classic Brazilian beach destination – miles of soft white sands washed by gentle waves and fringed by tall, waving palm trees. This tropical paradise also has an offshore reef which protects the beaches from Atlantic waves, and allows the shallow waters to warm up in the sun. With warm temperatures year-round, and sun most days of the year, the proximity to Salvador makes it an ideal place to spend a few days relaxing after touring other parts of Brazil
Praia do Forte has far more to offer as well as the beaches and the reef. The name means Beach of the Fort, and the historic Garcia D’Ávila Castle was one of the first fortifications in Brazil. The ruins make a shady wander from the beach. The little lighthouse is also worth a walk for views along the beaches. The 13km of beaches are also worth exploring, while the reef plays host to many colourful fish that can be seen feeding all day. Praia do Forte’s calm waters and shallow make it an ideal place for snorkelling, even for those who have never tried before. There are also boat trips for whale-watching and deep-sea fishing, and also scuba diving operators in Praia do Forte for those who want to explore further out in the Atlantic Ocean.
Perhaps the most popular place to visit by the beach is the Praia do Forte Sea-Turtle Sanctuary, run by Projeto TAMAR, the government agency that specialise in protecting these magnificent creatures up and down the coastline of Brazil. The beaches of Praia do Forte see night-time visits from the females, who crawl up the sand to lay hundreds of eggs, which they then bury before returning to sea. This takes place from May to September, and the project organise surveillance of the nesting sites by local fishermen as a means of involving local people in the protection of the turtles, rather than endangering them as happened previously. The sanctuary itself allows a close up look at some of the species that are kept for research and remedial reasons. A visit to speak to the staff is always worthwhile when staying in Praia do Forte, as they also know the likely places to view the hatching of the baby turtles. Between September and March, the turtlets break out of their eggs and flap their way down the beach until they are taken out to sea by the waves. Turtle encounters are one of the special reasons to visit Praia do Forte.
Turtles are the most famous but certainly not the only wildlife to see around Praia do Forte. The humped-back whales that visit between July and October now have their own project – the Projeto Baleia Jubarte. The project runs whale-watching boat trips while monitoring them as numbers increase along the Brazilian coastline and these huge creatures return to areas from which they had disappeared.
The Sapiranga Nature Reserve is a protected area of Atlantic Rainforest, with trails, river and waterfalls away from the heat of the sun. The shade of the trees is home to sloths, armadillos, snakes and caimans as well as many birds and butterflies, and you can hire bikes to get around (or away!) more rapidly. You can also hire buggies for the trails, and canoe around the creeks of Timeantube Lake.
Praia do Forte has developed from the quiet fishing village into an international resort, although done with enough care taken for the environment of the area to retain the natural splendour. However much or how little you prefer to do around Praia do Forte, every evening should be warm enough to enjoy Bahian cuisine amongst the palm trees, under the stars and with the sound of the waves for company.
Suitable Destination For: Those who want to relax in paradise after a tour of Brazil, or a visit to Salvador and other parts of Bahia; those who enjoy close encounters with marine life, especially the sea-turtles but maybe also hump-backed whales as well as tropical fish.
Best Time to Visit: Praia do Forte is a tropical beach, temperatures rarely dip below 25˚C during the day. April and May have the heaviest rainfall, with June and July also catching some heavy bursts. Holiday periods such as New Year and Carnaval are especially busy, with January and February in general attracting many Brazilian tourists.
Essential Sights & Activities: The 13km of beach; the Praia do Forte reef; Projeto TAMAR; Sapiranga Reserve.