"The world is like that -- incomprehensible and full of surprises", said Brazil's favorite author, Jorge Amado in his book "Gabriela, Clavo y Canela". A native of Ilhéus, it is clear that Amado was inspired by his own city during his writing career. It may not be obvious at first -- or even a second -- encounter with this bustling city but the famous author was right, Ilhéus is full of surprises.
Colorful buildings and mansions influenced by the Portuguese gives tourists a feeling of being back in the 15th Century during the era of the cacao (cocoa) boom. Oddly angled streets, a town square, small and large resorts, outdoor cafeterias and restaurants... each one delightful and unique.
It's difficult to debate where in Bahia people are most friendly but Ilhéus surely ranks top on the list. Don't be shy, strut around the town's center, a mixture of trendy clothing shops and antique bookstores, then pass by the Cathedral de São Sebastião to take in some culture. And don't miss the Jorge Amado Museum for more facts and fun.
Ilhéus is surrounded by the Atlantic Forest and boasts several attractive white-sand beaches that are all well worth exploring. There are more than twelve beaches but if you're searching for some first class surfing and beach hanging then Olivença is the place.
This village is known for its high level of surfing and the national championships that are held at Batuba beach. And if the swell is low, go take a bath in Olivença's healing water of Tororomb. After a pleasant swim, grab a bite at one of the many exciting restaurants and bars
And before departing, make sure to stop at Acarajé da Irene on Avenida Soares Lopes. Quite accurately, they claim that their acarajé is the best in Bahia.