IOS - Ilhéus


Hail Jorge

By Ricardo Freire

Brazil may have been discovered in Porto Seguro, but it was imagined in Ilhéus. Without Jorge Amado, his fishermen, his working girls and his cocoa farming upper classes, the country would certainly have a much less colorful idea of itself.

The cocoa industry is going through a new phase. After the large plantations were decimated by the witch’s broom plague, today Ilhéus dedicates its cocoa industry to fine varieties destined for the international gourmet market. Another of the city’s recently-discovered vocations is also sophisticated: Ilhéus has become a high-tech center. And to the North, Itacaré was transformed into a Mecca for both eco and luxury tourism.

The historical center, however, still recalls Amado’s characters. And the coast, largely untamed, reminds us of the Bahia and the Brazil we most like to imagine.

O que fazer em Ilhéus

Downtown, near the cathedral, is the Jorge Amado Block – there, you can visit the house where the writer spent his childhood, the cabaret that inspired the burlesque show in Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon, and a restaurant that aims to reproduce the Vesuvius bar run by Nacib the Turk.

Don’t forget to take a tour of a cocoa farm – you’ll learn everything there is to know about chocolate production. If you can, talk to one of the travel agents at your hotel about scheduling a visit to the Una Ecopark (31 mi/50 km), an Atlantic Forest reserve traversed over suspended walkways.

The Olivença district (20 km/12 mi to the south) has chalybeate thermal springs and the beach with the most infrastructure, Batuba. The beaches of Itacaré are 75 km (47 mi) to the North, and the centenarian houses of Canavieiras, on the coast of the Jequitinhonha River, are 125 km (78 mi) to the South.