Ti and Fe watching the rain over Itaunas

Best things to do in Itaunas, the capital of the Brazilian dance “forró”

This post is also available in: Português

You will find in this article a complete guide of the best things to do in Itaunas, in Brazil, a super chilled out fishing village located in the Espirito Santo State. Despite its small size, there is just so much to do around, such as visiting its beautiful beaches, swimming in the river, climbing the dunes, eating at the charming restaurants and more. Itaúnas is also famous for hosting one of the largest forró festivals (the Brazilian dance music genre) in Brazil.

If you are travelling around Brazil or road tripping along the Brazilian coast, make sure to stop by in Itaúnas! You will absolutely love it.

Aerial view of Itaunas in between the rivers
Aerial view of Itaunas in Brazil

Itaúnas is a fishing village in the north of Espírito Santo State, almost on the border with Bahia State (800 km/500 miles north of Rio de Janeiro). We went there following the recommendation of friends while we were on our road trip in Brazil, from São Paulo to Trancoso (1500 km/940 miles) and it was one of the greatest surprises of the trip.

We knew almost nothing about Itaúnas and what we found was a very charming village, surrounded by a wonderful nature with beaches, rivers, trekking paths and with lots of things to do.

a vegetation and the dunes in Itaunas

Itaúnas is part of the Conceição da Barra district and has not many inhabitants. However, it’s during the FenFit, Festival Nacional de Forró de Itaúnas (Itaúnas National Festival of Forró, in English), that the village welcomes up to 100 thousand people for a week of non-stop forró dancing.

And for those wondering what is Forró, this is a very popular Brazilian music and dance originated in Brazil’s north-eastern states. If you never tried it before, it can be quite hard to dance, however, if you are lucky enough to be in Itaúnas during the festival, you will surely find many people willing to teach you some forró.

We were in Itaúnas in January, when no festivals were going on and, frankly, it was pleasing to be able to enjoy the calm side of the place too. In any way, going to Itaúnas is surely a good hint at any season of the year.

Ti and Fe watching the rain over Itaunas

Best things to do in Itaunas Brazil

We spent three days in Itaunas and managed to explore the region relatively well. Check below all the tips we have on the best things to do in Itaúnas, as well as where to stay and how to get over there.

Visit the old village and the dunes of Itaunas

Not everybody knows, but Itaúnas has not always been on the same site. The village used to be right by the beach. However, because of the actions of the wind and deforestation of the region, the old village was buried and it currently lies under the dunes. This disaster forced the whole village to move to the other side of the Itaúnas River, where they remain up to now.

an aerial view of the dunes of Itaunas shaping the old village buried underneath the dunes

the church in white and blue of Itaunas
The new church at Itauna’s main square

It’s still possible to see some remnants of the old village under the dunes when walking about them. That’s the case of the old church that there used to be over there, which has parts of its structure showing. You also find some objects in the midst of the sand, such as porcelain and even bones from the old cemetery.

Watch the sunset and sunrise from the dunes of Itaúnas

 

sunset overview from above with Itaunas city and the sea

The dunes of Itaúnas are a compulsory stop for the early morning and late afternoon for at least once in your visit to this charming old village. It’s from the top of them where you will have the best view of the sun rising behind the sea and setting behind the village – the current one.

Spend the day at the Itaunas Beach

the beach of Itaunas with the wave breaking in the sand

You find the Itaunas Beach just in front of the dunes, with its refreshing sea and more than 25km of extension. The Itaunas Beach has a wild look, but it does have restaurants, bars and kiosks by the sea, in case you fancy some food or drinks.

Visit the Riacho Doce (Sweet Stream)

Just about 16km away from Itaunas you will find one of the most beautiful places of the region, the Riacho Doce. This stream marks the division of the states between Bahia and Espírito Santo. In this place, where the river meets the sea, providing a beautiful panorama, you have the option to start your day in the river and end it in the sea.

Visit the Costa Dourada (Golden Coast)

a crab coming out of the beach

Just 30km away from Itaúnas, already in the state of Bahia, you find the Costa Dourada, with many gorgeous beaches surrounded by cliffs quite specific from this part. As our next step was towards this direction, we skipped visiting Costa Dourada and ended up not visiting it at all – yet. But we constantly heard of the beauty of this place.

The way to Riacho Doce and Costa Dourada is a dirt road, so be aware of the weather to avoid rainy days as well as the state of your car.

Trekking in Itaunas Brazil

the entrance of the Itaunas Park

Ceated in 1991 and included in the UNESCO Heritage Site the year after, the State Park of Itaunas has many paths to explore the nature. Just when you leave the village, you find the head office of the park. You are welcome to step in and speak with the people from there to see the best trekking path for you.

Enjoy the delicious restaurants of Itaúnas

the entrance of the restaurant in Itaunas

As Itaunas is a touristic village in Brazil, there are plenty of restaurants for you. One of the most famous ones is the Restaurante do Cizinho (Cizinho’s restaurant). It has many varieties of dishes, mainly seafood. Even though it was well-recommended to us, we didn’t eat over there as it was a bit over our budget. Yet, here we pass on the recommendation.

If you, just like us, are after budget restaurants in Itaunas with the best cost-benefit, here it goes the list of the places we went:

  • Moqueca de Robalo com camarão from Beira Rio Restaurant – 18USD and it serves two or even three people.
  • Fish with pesto sauce in the Dona Tereza Restaurant – 5USD
  • Executive Lunch from the Recanto do Enéas – 4USD
  • We really wanted to try the shrimps baked in the coconut, which is apparently a dish exclusive to the Céu-Mar Restaurant, but we didn’t have enough time. If you go (or have been) and try (or tried), do let us know your thoughts about it.

Attend one of the main Forró festivals of Brazil

drawing of people from north-east Brazil

Itaúnas gave birth to the popular Brazilian dance music genre known as “forró pé de serra”, which is a segment of the traditional Brazilian forró.

That’s because every year, in July, the village welcomes the FenFit, the Festival Nacional de Forró de Itaúnas (Itaúnas National Festival of Forró), considered one of the main festivals of forró of Brasil.

On the way to Itaúnas, we gave a ride to a local who knew forró really well. He told us that during the FenFit, Itaúnas gets “forrozeiros” from all the corners of Brazil and the world, and the parties go on all night long every night.

It really incited us to attend this event at some point.

Where to stay in Itaúnas: hotels, guest houses and campings

Rooms and the swimming pool of Pousada Holu em Itaunas

There are many different options of accommodation in Itaunas, for all tastes and budgets. We stayed at the Pousada Holu, which has a great cost-benefit, let alone being one of the best rated hotels at Booking.com. The place has clean and comfy rooms, each one with a hammock and a few with a terrace. The Pousada Holu also has a swimming pool. And the breakfast, home-made and delicious, is included in your staying.

The owner, Guilherme, is extremely kind and nice. He is always ready to provide information and tips about Itaúnas to his guests. Check prices and availability of the Pousada Holu over here.

Check here other options of hotels in Itaunas, or use the map below for your search:


Booking.com

How to get to Itaunas

aerial view of the car driving in a dirt road surrounded by nature

The nearest airports to Itaúnas are the one in the city of Vitoria (Espírito Santo State), 260 km away from Itaunas; and the one in the city of Teixeira de Freitas (Bahia State), 170km away from Itaunas.

From these cities, you can:

  • Take a bus to Conceição da Barra e from there another bus to Itaúnas. It is also possible to make this very same route from Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais State);
  • Find a ride in BlaBlaCar app. As we were driving, we offered rides along the way and it was great;
  • Rent a car and drive yourself. We recommend renting it with Rental Cars, an online platform that search and compare within the world’s main car hire companies. We always find the best prices for our travels with them. Use the tool below for checking prices and availability for your trip:

Fernanda sit on the bench of Itaunas square

We hope this guide about the best things to do in Itaunas Brazil helps you to make the best of your trip in Brazil. This fishing village is very special and we are sure you will love to visit it.

If you have any questions or suggestions, leave in the comment below or get in touch with us. We would love to hear them! And if you are also visiting Rio de Janeiro during your time in Brazil (of course you are!), make sure to read this article with the best things to do at night overt here.