Santa Clara

Ilha de Boipeba, Bahia, Brazil Book from

Reviewed by Will Hide
Rustic guesthouse set in a lush tropical garden, a short stroll from a fabulous beach on the unspoilt island of Boipeba
Probably the last time you'll wear shoes on Boipeba is when you step off the small boat that makes the 5-minute trip from the mainland. Jump directly onto the beach and make the short walk up the shaded path to Pousada Santa Clara. From here on in, it's barefoot, carefree luxury all the way.

You'll be greeted warmly by the owners and shown along a wooden pathway to your charming, simply furnished room, hidden among lush foliage and banana trees. There's an open-air library with a collection of books and magazines, and a bar-restaurant serving breakfast and dinner where people gather to chat and drink in the evening. Around the back, up some stairs in a tree-top massage room, local resident Norma takes chill-out to another level. There's no pool, but you won't need one - the "Bounty Bar" beaches are superb and the sea gratifingly warm, all just 50m away.


  • The owners, brothers Charles and Mark, extend a really warm, personal welcome
  • Simple, laid back charm with a fun ambiance
  • Great restaurant - easily the best on the island
  • Tree-top massage room
  • Miles of deserted beaches and friendly locals - the island of Boipeba is one of Brazil's best-kept secrets


  • It's not easy to get to, but the distance from the mainland has helped Boibepa remain pristine, and the owners can send private vehicles to pick you up from Salvador or Ilhéus
  • Not directly on the beach but it's only a minute's walk away
  • On Boipeba 8pm is the new midnight: if you want buzzing nightlife, stick to Ibiza
  • Most of the rooms don't have AC or other mod cons, but they do have fans

Best time to go

Carnaval in Salvador (the biggest outside Rio) takes place either in February or March, depending on the year. Brazilians say if you want to watch go to Rio, if you want to take part go to Salvador. Boipeba would make a fantastic spot to chill out in afterwards. The rainiest months are May-July.

The Pousada closes each year for a few weeks, normally during June - please check for exact dates.

Our top tips

Take plenty of cash as there are no banks on the island. Biting insects aren't a huge problem, but they do exist so bring so mozzie-spray. Bring lots of suntan lotion (and aftersun) - the sun here is fierce, and in Salvador suntan lotion is much more expensive than at home. You'll make the owner, Charles, very happy if you bring a copy of the Economist for him, and any other magzines you've finished with will be gratefully accepted in the library.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Guesthouse
  • 12
  • Restaurant and bar (closed Mondays)
  • Over 2s welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym


The 12 rooms are simply furnished but charming, colourful and perfectly suited to the local environment. Four of the rooms have air conditioning, but you don't really need it anyway as the open windows capture the breezes coming in off the sea rustling through the luxuriant foliage, or you can cool off in your hammock on the veranda or terrace outside. All rooms have hot showers, mosquito nets, a ceiling fan and a small fridge, as well as outside hammocks (one room, number 11, also has an inside hammock). There's no TV and certainly no need for a safe.

I inspected most of the rooms and came away with the impression that none had a particular advantage over another and all were equally pleasant; room 3 is good for a family as it has a double bed and 2 single beds around a corner, plus an additional outside shower, and is perhaps more private than others being somewhat tucked away at the back of the property. Rooms 7 and 8 are on 2 levels (8 can sleep 4 people, 7 just 2.) I loved mine, room 4, for the way the light flooded in in the morning, with birds providing a natural alarm, and for its terrace, perfect for an afternoon siesta swinging gently in the hammock.

Features include:

  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Mosquito net
  • Terrace
  • Terrace
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet


Mark used to own a small café in Vermont, and he and his team do a fantastic job in the kitchen making breakfasts (delicious juices, coffee, bread, cakes, local coconut-infused rice pudding dusted with cinnamon, and cooked local Bahian specialities) that will fill you up way beyond lunchtime.

For dinner (not available on Mondays) there are delicious 3-course meals. Even if you think you're full after the main course, you'll magically find room for a homemade brownie or slice of pecan pie, and one of the 10 varieties of homemade ice cream - I'd recommend the white chocolate and the honey. Starters might include aubergine with mozzarella, crabcakes, or Vietnamese lobster rolls; main dishes could feature lobster ravioli, prawns with tangerine sauce, or homemade linguine with ricotta, rocket and fresh tomatoes. There's always a vegetarian option and lots of seafood.

For lunch, you might want to walk an hour along the beach to meet Guido, who cooks seafood dishes over a simple fire under a palm tree. Just in front of Pousada Santa Clara there are several very simple beach restaurants offering beer and snacks, while in the village (a 10 minute walk away) there are a few laid back places offering tasty local dishes such as moqueca (fish or prawn stew). Or you can take a boat 20 minutes through the mangroves to the floating oyster restaurants where dinner is directly beneath your feet, washed down with a large beer.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby


  • Lie on the beach catching up on all the books you meant to read but never got round to

  • Learn the difference between a caipirinha and a caipirosca

  • Walk an hour and a half along deserted beaches and through coconut groves to the tiny hamlet of Morere

  • Hike through the Atlantic forest or follow the trails around the coast

  • Meet the local fishermen and their families - visiting homes, schools, enjoying soccer matches

  • Take a boat trip to the floating oyster restaurants or around the island

  • Go horse riding, or canoe through the mangroves

  • Swim and snorkel in the natural shallow pools offshore

  • Go night-shopping in the village (a 10-minute walk away) and stop for a tapioca pankcake by the football pitch on the way home

  • Get a holistic massage from Norma in the tree-top massage room

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Kayaking
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures


Children are welcome and most rooms have extra beds (room 3 has a double bed and 2 single beds around a corner). There are no special facilities for children, but they (and parents) will love the freedom that an island like Boipeba affords.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Extra Beds Available

Kid Friendly:

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