Atop a bluff overlooking an enchanting stretch of coastline, Arraial d’Ajuda is a peaceful tourist village with indisputable appeal. Its narrow paved roads and dusty lanes wind beneath large, shady trees, with lovely pousadas and open-air restaurants hidden among the greenery. Solid, brightly painted facades surround its plazas, and the air remains tinged with the scent of tropical vegetation.
Arraial D’Ajuda has a lot of importance in the history of Brazil. During the beginning of the reign of Manoel I, between March 9 and April 22, 1500, about fifteen hundred Portuguese crossed the Atlantic, embarking on nine ships, three caravels and a small ship with supplies. It was the Second Portuguese India Armada, the largest fleet. They sailed the Tagus with 13 ships, but on March 23 one of the ships disappeared without a trace.
On April 22, 1500, after 42 days of travel, the fleet of Pedro Alvares Cabral saw “a great mountain,” to which the captain named Monte Pascoal and named the land the Land of Vera Cruz. The next day, on April 23, the fleet reached the land and Captain Nicholas Coelho became the first Portuguese to set foot on the new continent and to communicate with a small group of Tupiniquim Indians, who belonged to the Tupi-Guarani. Porto Seguro was headquarters to one of 15 captaincies that King John III created in an attempt to divide Brazil and promote colonization and administration.
The first Mariano Sanctuary of Brazil, is located 5 km south of Porto Seguro. The Arraial D’Ajuda is a tribute to Thomas de Souza and the first Jesuits who arrived here in 1549, with his 3 ships: Conceição, Salvador e Ajuda, which would be names of the cities and their first churches. The Church of Our Lady D’Ajuda is on a hill above the sea, built in 1551. The image of Our Lady D’Ajuda that is on the pediment of the church has been venerated with pilgrimage since the middle of the sixteenth century. It was around this church that the village that was formed got its name. The miraculous spring is protected by a simple construction, the slope that leads to the hill. The beauty of the town has attracted visitors from around the world, especially after the 70s. Walk on the beautiful beaches or sit on the cliffs filled with various colors. Reefs form natural swimming pools of calm and greenish waters.
Within this mystical atmosphere in the mid-70s, the alternative wave shook the conventional structures: people backpacking through, those wanting a world to reinvent, people in search of a dream, they finally found the perfect place in Arraial, and the native people were kind and respective to their exuberant nature. Since then, many who have came here, have decided to put down their roots, working and contributing to this paradise and making it what it is today: travelers from around the world visit, which gives the Arraial D’Ajuda a universal face.
Nowadays, its popularity has spawned hundreds of pousadas and restaurants catering to all budgets. During high season, the small town is overrun with vacationers and a young Brazilian crowd drawn to the regular roster of beach parties, concentrated around Praia Parracho.