We left Salvador and took an 8-hour bus ride south down the coast to Ilhéus. We upgraded to the nicer coach bus so it was pretty comfortable (minus the drunk “woo girl” who had 10 cocktails prior to our 9am departure). Once she passed out, we enjoyed the countryside while binge watching season 1 of Empire. Then in Ilhéus a driver we arranged prior took us the final hour drive to Itacaré where we’d stay for 8 nights.
Itacaré is a great little surf town with a laid back vibe. Our main goal while visiting was to attend surf school and learn enough to allow us to rent boards in other places as we travel. We stayed in a cute pousada (guest house) across the street from the beach and a short walk into the main part of town with all the restaurants. We had two full days to rest up before surf school which we spent beach hopping, taking hammock naps and trying new types of caipirinhas.
Then Easy Drop surf school began bright and early. We’d meet each morning at 7am then head to the beach of the day depending on the wave report. We surfed at two beaches – Pontal (a quick boat ride across the river) and Engenhoca (a 15-minute drive then a 1 mile hike through a jungle like forest while carrying your board). We’d first warm up and practice proper form on the sand then spend the next 3-4 hours trying not to die catching waves. Both of us took surf lessons in Hawaii so we thought we knew what we were getting into but quickly realized learning on a longboard is much more challenging than the huge Styrofoam boards we used on the big island. The instructors filmed all of the surfing so at the end of each session we did an hour long video review to get feedback. This was immensely helpful in making us better. When looking at the week, the first few days were rough with lots of bruises and wipeouts but towards the end of the five days we were able to get up on a ten or more waves each day and felt more confident. All in all, we have mad respect for surfers – it ain’t easy!
Our package through the surf school also included yoga and Portuguese classes each day (spoiler alert: we still suck at Portuguese but can now tell whether we’re ordering shrimp or beef at a restaurant – winning!). And speaking of menus, we tried some delicious new Brazilian food while in Itacaré. Highlights include Moqueca (a stew with seafood, onions, garlic, coconut cream, etc), Tapiocas (similar to a crepe but thicker and made with tapioca flour – filled with various meat/cheese/veggies), Queijo de coalho (cheese on a stick cooked over open coals and sprinkled with oregano..great beach snack), and Acai bowls (not new to us but even better here in Brazil).
We also met was some really great new friends who did surf school and stayed at our same pousada. Most were from Sao Paulo and also spoke English which allowed communication to be much easier. We enjoyed many meals and drinks together throughout the week and they were a big help in providing travel recommendations which will help shape our remaining time in Brazil and elsewhere in South America.
It hasn’t even been two weeks on the road yet, but we both feel like we’ve already been gone for months! At the time of writing this we’re on a flight to Rio de Janeiro where we will spend the next four nights. More to come. Tchau!