By Alison McGowan
June 5, 2008

Pousada Estrela do Mar is a simple, unpretentious, pousada with an Irish/Brasilian flavour, located in the Farol da Barra area of Salvador. Rooms are whitewashed basic, with no phones or cable TV, but they are clean and comfortable and have all the important things like air conditioning, ceiling fans and a minibar. Downstairs at the reception there are great staff with a wealth of information on what to do and where to go locally, and although there is no pool or bar there is a comfortable area with internet and free tea and coffee 24 hours, where you can meet and chat to other travellers.

Location-wise Barra is great for those who want to be relatively close to the historical centre (20 minutes by bus or taxi), but also want to be by a beach. The pousada itself is only half a block from the Farol da Barra bus-stop (where airport buses stop), the same distance from the beach and only a block from a good number of restaurants and bars.

About the location
Salvador is simultaneously hot, chilled and laid back. And nothing like the south of Brasil! Home to the largest influx of slaves in the country (nearly five million between the 16th and 19th centuries) its population remains predominantly black and local customs reflect and incorporate African traditions in religion, culture, dance and dress.

The city has grown tremendously over the last thirty years and with a population is now well over 3 million, the usual problems have all arisen. For many years the historical centre around the Pelourinho was a no-go area and the area around Barra also went into a steep decline. However many of the historical buildings in the centre have now been refurbished, policing is much better and recently the Barra area around the pousada seems to have gained a completely new lease of life, with lots of new bars opening. One thing is for sure – the vibe in Salvador is something else completely, and the tropical spirit in the air totally contagious.

Not to be missed
– A walking tour around the Pelourinho historical centre
– Local seafood at the Portal do Mar and Cabanas do Cely
– Local music on Friday and Saturday nights at Habeus Corpus
– The sunset from the lighthouse naval museum in the Farol da Barra
– A swim in the Porto da Barra where the sea is super calm

Getting there without a car
The best way to get to Salvador is definitely by plane. I did it once by bus from Rio and it is not a pleasant trip, even if (like me) you like buses. The bus takes about 36 hours; the plane only 2, and there are often cheap deals available with TAM and GOL.

Salvador airport is quite a long way to the centre and taxis are expensive – around R$70. The journey takes approximately 50 minutes. However there is also an airport bus marked Pca da Se, which goes along the coast road and will drop you off at the Farol da Barra, half a block from the pousada. Cost is R$4

Starpoints at the Pousada Estrela do Mar

* Location – close to Barra beach and all the bars, but down a quiet street with minimal noise
* Sean, and his excellent staff, all of whom are helpful, knowledgeable, and English speaking
* Great for singles, couples, families and gay-friendly.
* Excellent value for those on a restricted budget

Try a different place…
– if you want to be in the historical centre (e.g. Pousada do Boqueirao)
– if you want more sophistication, a pool, and a less crowded beach (e.g. Pousada Encanto de Itapoan)
– if you want a power shower, telephone, cable TV or 24 hour service!

Alison is a British writer, musician, and marketing consultant, based in Rio de Janeiro. She can be contacted on Visit her blog at

Previous articles by Alison:

Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Vivenda, Rio de Janeiro
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada da Terra, Minas Gerais
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Mirante de Pipa, Rio Grande do Norte
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada do Caju, Alagoas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada da Amendoeira, Alagoas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Estalagem Caiuia, Alagoas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Lagoa do Cassange, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Ponta do Muta, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Santa Clara, Boipeba, Bahia

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