Itacaré

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The sun sets over Itacaré on Feb. 9, 2006. Taken by C. Spencer Beggs.

Itacaré is a municipality in the cocoa zone of the state of Bahia in Brazil, south of Salvador. It is located 70 km north of Ilhéus where the Rio de Contas, which comes from the Chapada Diamantina, meets the Atlantic Ocean. Itacaré has about 27,000 residents. Out of these, approximately 50% live in the rural interior. A mixture of races - Amerindian, black and white - can be seen in the features of the natives, called "nação grapiúna", who Jorge Amado affectionately referred to as "the captivating people of this land". was founded as a Portuguese colonial settlement, originally called São Jorge dos Ilhéus, in 1532. The town was a notorious hangout for Dutch and Portuguese pirates during the early colonial period and later became a hub for the cocoa planting and a port for whalers. It was officially given city status in 1881.

After a massive blight of Vassoura de Bruxa (Witch's broom) devastated the region's cocoa crops in the 1980s, Itacaré has depended mostly upon tourism. It is a popular destination for surfers, hikers and ecotourists. The town has a series of beautiful small cove type beaches and other picturesque beaches further along the coast. Itacaré is on the edge of a national park, one of the last large expanses of Atlantic rain forest left in Brazil.

The change from sleepy agrarian town to tourist hotspot has not been an easy one, however. Locals recently won a hard-fought campaign to stop land owners who wanted to charge for access to the beaches.

Access to one of the most pristine beaches, Prainha, has been blocked by a hotel/condominium development called Sao Jose Eco Resort. Both Prainha and Sao Jose beaches are now accessible by foot, free of charge.

Despite development in the area, it remains a hub of Bahian culture. Many tourists visit Itacaré to take part in the local Capoeira circles and eat traditional Brazilian food. The town is flooded with revelers during New Year's and Carnival.

Itacaré has been mentioned as one of the worlds top 10 best small towns [1]

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Coordinates: 14°16′41″S 38°59′46″W / 14.27806°S 38.99611°W / -14.27806; -38.99611