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Praia do Forte beach town

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The coast of Brazil is renowned for its outstanding natural beauty. In the north-east of the country, which juts out into the Atlantic Ocean towards Africa, you will find vast stretches of unspoilt fine sand beaches, where white sailing boats glisten in the sunlight as they cut through the tranquil turquoise water.

Praia do Forte is a small seaside town an hour north of the city of Salvador, in the north-eastern state of Bahia. Once a small fishing village, it is now popular with holiday-makers, and at the weekend people living in Salvador visit the area to unwind. The town retains a low-key feel, with small, distinctive hotels, and good restaurants. Everything in Praia do Forte is within walking distance: although only a few hotels have direct beach access, the sea is never far away. Around 5km to the south of Praia do Forte is the tiny village of Itacimirim, where fishing boats bob up and down on the clear, shallow water of the bay. To the north, the village of Imbassai is just 10km away. Both can be visited easily by taxi, and offer long stretches of quiet, attractive beaches, which are suitable for swimming and snorkelling.

A number of outdoor activities are offered in the area, including horseback riding, water sports, kayaking, quad-bike tours, sea fishing and whale-watching excursions between July and October. It is worth visiting the nearby Sapiranga Reserve, a 600 hectare region of coastal rainforest, where there are guided walks to spot the local birds, animals and plant-life. Sea turtles nest along this stretch of coast between October and February, and in January and February tiny baby turtles can be found scuttling frantically towards the water. Turtles can be seen year-round at the TAMAR Project (hyperlink) visitor centre in the heart of Praia do Forte. For a more relaxing stay, massages and treatments can be arranged in town. Praia do Forte is an ideal place to sample typical Brazilian cuisine, especially seafood dishes. In the evening, sip a refreshing caipirinha whilst watching the brilliant red sun setting on the horizon.

Established over 30 years ago, the TAMAR Project is a very worthwhile and successful initiative working towards the preservation of endangered loggerhead, green, hawksbill, leatherback and olive ridley sea turtles. The organisation runs social awareness projects in the community, promotes sustainability and conducts research into turtle behaviour and trends. There are now over 20 TAMAR bases in Brazil, covering over 1000km of coastline. In Praia do Forte, there is a visitor centre on the beach, next to the lighthouse in the town centre. The centre is orientated towards children and families, but is worth visiting to see these impressive species in the flesh. The centre also houses fish, a nurse shark and rays. Guided tours are usually only conducted in Portuguese; however most of the information boards have English translations.