March 26, 2008

Family Surf Camp...

Head to Itacaré, Brazil to EasyDrop Surf Camp from September through March (the high season), when the surf is gentle and the weather is dry, with temperatures generally in the 80s and 90s. Reaching Itacaré is tricky—around 15 hours inflight and over land—but the trip is jet lag–free. Nonstops to São Paulo from several U.S. cities (including New York City, Houston, and Miami) usually depart in the evening and land in the morning, and São Paulo is just one hour ahead of EST. Take a one-hour taxi ride from São Paulo–Guarulhos International Airport to Congonhas Domestic Airport for the two-and-a-half-hour flight to Ilhéus. (Depending on flight frequency, you may have to stay in São Paulo for a day. Itacaré is a 90-minute drive from Ilhéus—arrange a pickup with your hotel, and keep an eye out for the monkeys crossing the road on small footbridges overhead. And there's no need to rent a car. Everything is walkable or a short $5 to $10 taxi ride away.

The Surf Camp package includes six days of instruction and all the gear, and can be booked à la carte or with accommodations at Girassol. For ages 6 and up. From $495 (without accommodations) to $742 (in a double at Girassol in high season) per person; (55) 73-3251-3065. With five main beaches and dozens of tiny ones. Visit Praia da Tiririca to scope out the local surf scene, or Praia da Ribiera to hone your skills on beginner-level waves. A 20-minute walk will take you to the spectacular Praia de Jeribucaçu.

Where to stay:
Girassol, Run by a warm, friendly couple, EasyDrop's affiliated hotel is just steps from Praia da Concha beach. The 10 rooms are simple and clean, each with air-conditioning and a refrigerator. The lush, hammock-strewn garden is the perfect spot for recalling the day's events with fellow surf-campers. From $41 a night for a double in low season to $130 a night for a four-person room in high season (children under 5 are free); (55) 73-3251-2089.
Ilha Verde, A quiet hideaway near the forest, this pousada has seven rooms (and a bungalow) that feel homey and tropical, with vibrant walls, local pottery, and mosquito-netted beds. Capoeira, yoga, and samba classes are offered, as well as in-room massages. From $100 a night for a double in low season to $420 a night for a four-person bungalow in high season; (55) 73-3251-2056.
Txai Resort, (pronounced Ta-shy): The luxe wood-stilted bungalows have an earthy, modern look, with huge bathrooms and outdoor showers. On site are tennis courts, two pools, and a spa. Service is highly attentive. From $300 a night for a double in low season to $900 a night for a six-person bungalow in high season; (55) 73-2101-5000.

Where to eat:
Restaurante Tia Dete, a hole-in-the-wall that serves the best Bahian food in town, including shrimp moqueca (a rich coconut milk-based stew) and crispy fish seasoned with lime. Avenida Castro Alves, Centro; (55) 73-3251-2379.
Grão de Bico, an indoor-outdoor vegetarian shack, decorated with tables fashioned from surfboards, where you can get a tasty veggie burger and fresh mango juice for less than $5. Rua Pedro Longo 138.
Boca de Forno, is the go-to place when the kids balk at fish stew, this pizza joint has a lively atmosphere, fast service, and delicious thin-crust pizzas. Rua Lodônio Almeida 108; (55) 73-3251-2174.
Info. from Cookie Magazine.

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