By Simone Sousa Leandro| Translation: Julia Melim
A true Paradise in the middle of the “Baía de Todos os Santos” (All Saints Bay), which is considered an ecological reserve since 1982, the “Ilha dos Frades” (Priests Island), shelters many beautiful natural resources. Just to begin with, the very name of the island attracts the attention of the most curious visitors.
The Island belongs to the city of Salvador, in its 1.335 hectares, where we can find the presence of palm trees, lakes, waterfalls and a typical vegetation of Mata Atlântica (Atlantic Forest). Because it’s so close to the capital of Bahia, the Island attracts many tourists that come to experience the urban lifestyle of Salvador, but end up heading there for the weekend looking for shade and cool water, and a delicious dive in the ocean.
The Island was given this name because of the priests who came to Brazil, and as history tells us, Indians captured two missionary priests who were trying to turn them to Catholicism. Since then the people in the region have been calling it the “Island of the Priests.” Besides the many churches we can find on the Island, there are also sugar mills in the region from the colonial era, which according to the villagers was where the slaves were left during quarantine.
Besides experiencing the legends told by the locals, the tourists can explore the ecotrails, where they will find the Mata Atlântica (Atlantic Forest) typical vegetation, and if they are feeling adventurous, they could even go in the waterfell to feel the cool waters. During the low tide they can also walk along the island on its white sand.
The calming waters contribute to the scenery with beautiful corals that turn the sights into a true Paradise. The most popular beach is the Ponta de Nossa Senhora (Mother Mary’s Corner), where schooners go by constantly, which is the perfect spot for nature seekers. The “mar” with mild waves is perfect for families and children. On the sand, tents serve ice cold beer and seafood appetizers (huuummm…). The North of the Island is very busy, where most of the schooners use as a type of port.
Whoever wants to go to this little piece of Paradise of only 6 kilometers, should take the opportunity to hike the Morro de Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe (Saint of Guadalupe’s Hill), where you can also visit the ruins of a church of the same name. From there, you have the best view of the beach. Another option at the Island is water sports, like diving, snorkeling, or even fishing.
There are two ways to get to the “Island of the Priests,” which are through the main touristic port in Bahia called “Terminal Turístico Náutico da Bahia”, that costs around R$35 to R$50 per person (*2012), or going through Salvador through the highway BR-324, towards “Feira de Santana,” which is only 32km until BA-522 toward Candeias and another 20 km going to Madre de Deus. Whichever way you choose, you will arrive at the schooners that will take you to the Paradise island of Ilha dos Frades… in the state of pure magia: Bahia.