It first captured the imagination of Brazil's "creative elite" in the late 1980s, and they've been visiting ever since. But the little seaside town of Trancoso is still wonderfully unspoilt, said Pilar Guzmán in Travel + Leisure, balancing "bohemian cool" with "the powerful presence of the natural world". Perched on a forested bluff above a glorious beach, it was founded by Jesuits in the 16th century, and then forgotten by the wider world until the 1970s, when hippies and surfers began visiting. These days, celebrities mingle with wealthy holidaymakers from São Paulo on its huge central green – the Quadrado – but its sheer isolation (it's three hours by plane and car from the nearest big city, Salvador) has protected it from urban sprawl and "overtourism".
There are no cars on the Quadrado, and no international chains among the boutiques and restaurants that now occupy the colourful old fisherman’s cottages around its edge. In the evenings, locals play football on the grass before its simple 16th century church, and at night, the canopies of its ancient trees are lit with hundreds of lanterns. Opened in 2009, Trancoso's first luxury hotel, Uxua Casa, faces onto the green and occupies a further 11 rustic casitas – all crafted with the help of local artisans – in the lush grounds behind. The hotel also operates a beach bar, a few minutes’ walk away, through a mangrove forest and over a "rickety" wooden bridge.
For those hoping to stay right next to the ocean, there's a "swanky" new resort a ten-minute drive outside town. The Fasano is a recent outpost of the "stylish" Brazilian hotel group of the same name, and consists of 40 modern villas set beside a near-deserted stretch of beach. With golf buggies on hand to ferry you between the resort's spa, two restaurants, a huge pool and more, it's a great place to relax for a few days – and a good base for adventures along the wild coast to the south.
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Correction, 6 October: This article previously referred to the Fasano as the hotel group's newest outpost; this has been corrected to reflect that it is one of its most recent new openings.
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