Porto Seguro ’s beach culture is concentrated on the 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) of low scrub and palm-flanked coastline that spread north from the city center. As far as urban beaches go, you could do a lot worse. The sand is sugary and white and the water, protected by reefs, is not only child-friendly but comes in unreal shades of jade and aqua.
Curuípe, Itacimirim, Mundaí, Taperapuã, Ponta Grande, and Mutá are the names of the beaches that reach up from Porto to Coroa Vermelha, 13 kilometers (8 miles) to the north. The first few are packed with barracas, including the famous super- barracas, that are total entertainment complexes. By day, these offer lambada and “lambaérobica” classes, water sports, and Internet access as well as food and drink. By night, their multiple stages host musical performers and DJs that whip the crowd into a sweat to the throbbing strains of axé, forró, pop, and techno.
The biggest, loudest, and hippest of these are Tôa-Tôa (at Praia Mundaí), Axé Moi, and the granddaddy of them all, Barramares, at Praia de Taperapuã. More sedate is the relatively distant beach of Mutá. From the traffic circle in the center of town, numerous municipal buses go north along to coast to the sleepy town of Santa Cruz de Cabrália. At night, you’re better off taking a cab than waiting around in the dark.
Going north along the coast from Porto Seguro  the beaches become more deserted and unspoiled. From Santa Cruz de Cabrália (25 kilometers/16 miles north), a boat trip across the Rio João de Tiba (ferries leave every half hour from the port) brings you to the rustic and surprisingly under-visited fishing settlement of Santo André. Its kilometer-long coastline of empty beaches and swaying palms is quite compelling and makes a nice antidote to Porto’s urban beach scene. Even further north, you’ll hit the surfer’s paradise of Guaiú and Mojiquiçaba.