Ilha de Boipeba
Boipeba Island is one of the islands of the Tinharé archipelago, in the county of Cairu, in the south of the state of Bahia. Surrounded by the ocean on one side, and the Inferno River estuary on the other, this island is of rare natural beauty, home to a great variety of ecosystems.
The island has been recognized by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve and as a World Heritage Site. Thanks to its unique natural setting, the island is part of the Environmentally Protected Area of the Islands of Tinharé and Boipeba.
Boipeba is the perfect place for travelers who prefer to spend their holidays looking for peace and quiet, seeking relaxation and rest while being close to nature. The place is ideal for disconnecting for a few days, enjoying the beaches in the shade of coconut palms, hiking and walking on beach and inland trails, or boating or canoeing to deserted beaches. For those looking for a little fun, there are a many bars and restaurants in the village of Boipeba.
M'boi pews is a Tupy Indian word which means flat snake, in reference to a variety of sea turtle, giving the name to the island of Boipeba.
Founded by Jesuits in 1537, Boipeba is one of the oldest sites to be colonized by the Portuguese in Bahia. There are four villages found on the island - Velha Boipeba, São Sebastião, Moreré, and Monte Alegre.
The only access to the island is by water - sea or river transport. River boats are used more frequently than boats on the open sea, as the calm waters of the estuary offer more safety for travelers. At the same time, river access can be made more difficult due to shallow waters and sand banks which need to be expertly navigated.
No cars are permitted on the island - all transport is on foot or by tractor. This helps to protect the environment and helps to promote a more ecoclogically-minded tourism.
Boipeba is home to a dense Atlantic rainforest. With its salt marshes, sand dunes, extensive mangroves, and paradisiacal coconut-palmed beaches and reefs, it is a world of ecological diversity.
The reefs are found up and down the coast, sheltering the beaches from waves and ocean currents. These wide reefs are full of canals and shallow pools.
Flora and fauna are rich in varieties of coral, algae, fish, mollusks, sea urchins, starfish, and other sea life. There are sea turtles found in the region, and spawning eggs can be seen on beaches around the island.
The forested areas of the island are home to much of the indigenous animal life - including numerous species of birds, armadillos, fox and reptiles.
Climate and Temperature
Tropical temperatures make it possible to travel to Boipeba throughout the year. It is warmer between October and March, and as of April, the climate is milder. Rain falls mainly between May and July. In this period, it can raiin for a few days, but the sun eventually bursts through cloud cover to dry things up. With warm temperatures, you can swim in the ocean waters all year round.
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On the island there is no bank or ATM. Banks with ATMs can be found in Valença. Most of the hotels, restaurants and shops accept credit cards, but it is advisable to bring some cash with you.
Telephone and Internet
The island has a network of phones and internet services, and signals from several cell phone carriers can be picked up.
Electricity 220 V
Electricity is brought to the island by underground cables. Note that unlike most cities, the voltage is 220V.
There are several minimarkets, bakeries and small gift shops in the village center. Stores are generally open in the morning from 8 to 12, as well as from 2 to 8 pm.
Boipeba has a small health clinic up in the main square - Praça Santo Antonio, open Monday to Friday from 8 am to 12 and from 2 to 5 pm. Emergency services are available 24/7. There is also a pharmacy downtown, and no special vaccination is required for this region in Brazil.
As there are no cars on the island, luggage is transported with wheelbarrows or with the help of tractors between villages. It is advisable not to bring unnecessary items. In local shops, you can buy everything you need at a reasonable cost. Lightweight clothes and shoes, as well as sandals, are appropriate for tropical temperatures. Not all roads are illuminated with street lamps, so it's a good idea to carry a flashlight or mobile phone with flashlight app.
The Island of Boipeba is a peaceful place with little or no security issues. Still, it is advisable not to leave your belongings on the beach unattended. The safest place for documents and money is always your hotel or lodging. If you need any help, there is a small police bureau in the village center.
Velha Boipeba, with Santo Antonio Square at its center, is the most important village on the island, with a population of about 2,000. Fishing has traditionally been the primary economic activity, although with the development of tourism in the last 10 years, more economic opportunities for locals have arisen.
The Church of the Holy Spirit, originally built by the Jesuits in 1610 and then enlarged during the 19th century, is the the most important historical monument found on the Island of Boipeba.
Video about Velha Boipeba
This village is found on the Atlantic coast, between Ponta dos Castelhanos Beach and Velha Boipeba. Today, Moreré is the second most visited spot on the island, with several guest houses, bars and restaurants opening up. There is no pier for boats to dock, so all maritime arrivals and departures, both guests and merchandise, take place at the beach, with the aid of canoes.
The village of São Sebastião is found on the southern tip of the island, off a small bay near Ponta dos Castellanos. The alternative name for the village is Cova da Onça, literally jaguar´s cave. The name comes from stories told by the local population of an existing cave, which was used by the Jesuits as a hideaway when under attack from the local indigenous populations.
The island of Boipeba has a coast protected by coral reefs. The tranquil ocean waters are perfect for swimming, diving and enjoying boat excursions. Boipeba has several sand beaches with coconut plantations dotting the landscape, allowing you to sun on the beach or relax in the shade of palm trees.
Tour around the Island of Boipeba
The boat trip around the island of Boipeba goes to the natural reef pools, the Ponta dos Castellanos Beach, the sandbar at Coroa Grande, and the village of Cova da Onça.
The tour starts at the Boca da Barra Beach in Velha Boipeba and the first stop is the natural pools of Moreré, formed during low tide. These pools are full of fish, lobster, starfish, octopus, as well as corals and underwater plants.
Ponta dos Castellanos is a deserted beach with a coral reef. The site received its name because of the Spanish galleon Madre de Dios, which sank there in the 17th century.
Coroa Grande is a sandbar found in front of the Rio dos Patos, formed during the low tide.
São Sebastian, also known as Cova da Onça, is the second largest town on the island, with about 800 inhabitants who live mostly from fishing.
Cova da Onça got its name because of a cave found near the village.
In the village of Canavieiras there are several floating bars offering fresh oysters to tourists.
Vídeo Passeio Volta Ilha
On the canoe trip through the mangroves you can see many birds, mostly egrets which feed on fish, crabs and shrimp.
The red mangrove is the most common in the region, a place where you see crabs walking on the roots to protect themselves from blowfish. Sea bass and mullet as well as other ocean fish reproduce in the mangrove.
Vídeo Canoe Trip
Hikes in the Forest
The inland areas of the island still have some forested areas where you can find a wide variety of trees, lianas, orchids, birds and wild animals.
The Serrão is a lowland swamp where rain water accumulates and where you find organic material mixing with fine sand.
In the forested areas, the Piassava Palm Tree grows in the shade of other trees.
From the village of Monte Alegre you have a beautiful view of the island and of the mainland. The dry sandy soil is ideal for the cashew and mangaba fruit trees.
The Mata Grande has large trees such as the Jataipeba, a durable and solid wood used in shipbuilding.
Vídeo Hikes in the Forest
Celebration of Iemanjá
Every year, on the second of February, a maritime procession takes place. Fishing boats and speedboats are laden with flowers and gifts for the Goddess of the sea, Iemanjá. Iemanjá represents Creation, and like a great mother, she always has her arms spread open to welcome those in need.
Video Celebrations of Iemanjá
Celebration of the Holy Spirit
Once a year the community of Boipeba celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Christian community. This event takes place seven weeks after the Easter holiday.
The festive period lasts for nine days and begins with the raising of the church flag, accompanied by hymns and chants. Each night masses are celebrated at the Church of the Holy Spirit.
On Pentecost Sunday, a festive mass is celebrated, followed by a procession of the Divine Holy Spirit through the streets and neighborhoods of Velha Boipeba.
The next day a procession of boats takes place in honor of San Francisco.
During these days there are cultural events on the streets of Boipeba. Participants include Boipeba Bumba Meu Boi, The Boipeba Capoeira Group - Axé Bahia, and the Aro-Brazilian Religious Association, who join together for the symbolic washing of the stairs leading up to the Church of the Holy Spirit.
During the first three decades of Portuguese colonization, the Bahian coast provideda support system for the route to India. At that time the luxury products from Asia - silk, carpets, porcelain and spices - were much more profitable than the products of the new colony. Both the small and larger natural ports were used for supplying water and wood, in addition to providing sites for making small repairs on ships.
The coast of Bahia was inhabited by indigenous Tupi nations: the Tupinambás, the Tupiniquins, and the Aimorés. The islands of Boipeba, Cairu, and Tinharé were inhabited by the Tupinambás, and the city of Ciaru was the largest indigenous metropolis of the region. The name Cairu comes from the Tupi word aracajurru, meaning house of the sun.
The Portuguese colonization of the country began in 1516. The Bahia coast was divided into 3 captainships, and later subdivided into 5. In the 18th century these captainships were incorporated tino the Crown, and the grand captainship of Bahia became the headquarters of government.
The Franciscans were the first of the religious orders to establish contact with the New World, with the objective being conversion. It was the Jesuits, however, who were to play a greater role in colonization, arriving in 1549 from Portugal, accompannied by the first Governor of Brazil, Tomé de Souza. In addition to their school in Salavdor, they immediately established residency in Porto Seguro and in Ilhéus.
Branching out from these sites, they settled in many villages not too far away. In 1563 Mem de Sá granted the Jesuits land near Camamu, where in the same year the Jesuits founded two village-residencies, in both Boipeba and in Camamu.
In the 17th century this region began to develop a role in the production of both food and construction material for the city of Savador, as well as for the sugarcane-growing plantations around the bay. The village of Boipeba grew, as colonizers fled the continent, fearful of Aimoré raids. The village became an official settlement between 1608 and 1610.
For three centuries the economy of the Bahian coast was exclusively one of extraction. At first the target was brazilwood which was highly valued by European dye merchants. Afterwards wood was extracted which was used for both naval and urban construction. Trees were cut down mostly along the central portion of the Bahian coast, between Ilhéus and Valença.
The economy of extraction included the harvesting of fibers from palms, examples being both piassava and dendê palms fronds, both used for thatching. Sugar cane production was developed during the 17th century in Camamu, and the growing of manioc spread to the bays of Tinharé and Camamu, especially on the islands, far away from indigenous attacks. Other crops, such as cocoa, coffee, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper, were introduced in the 18th century.
In 1631, on the Morro de São Paulo, due to its strategic position near the entrance to the Bay of All Saints, a fortress was built by order of Governor Diogo Luís de Oliveira. The fortress was enlarged in 1730, becoming one of the largest fortifications on the Brazilian coast.
At the end of th 18th century, the settlement of Amparo, on the banks of the Una River, became a town named Valença (1799), with its territory separated from the County of Cairu. The first large industry implanted in the state of Bahia was in Valença, the Todos os Santos Textile Factory, which was inaugurated in 1847 on the banks of the Una River. By 1848 the factory was already producing 600 rods of fabric per day while employing 100 workers. The factory is still in operation today.
The Franciscan Convent of Cairu
Much information about the history of the region and of the municipality of Cairu are well documented in the work entitled FRANCISCAN CONVENT OF CAIRU, written by José Dirson Argolo, edited by MONUMENT/IPHAN.Access to the book in Portuguese