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On the banks of the Rio Caravelas, in the extreme south of Bahia, lies CARAVELAS , an attractive colonial town that makes an ideal farewell or introduction to Bahia. Founded in 1503, it became an important trading centre in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Today both the town and its nearby beach are – despite the growth of tourism – very relaxing places. Caravelas is the jumping-off point for the Parque Nacional Marinho dos Abrolhos , one of the best places in Brazil to see exotic marine life, including – at certain times of year – humpback whales.
Apart from organizing your trip to Abrolhos, there isn't much to do in Caravelas, but it's an agreeable place to wander around. Most of the interest lies in the streets between the river and the rodoviária, which is on Praça Teófilo Otoni in the centre of town. One block to your left as you come out of the rodoviária is the lively Praça Quinze. Another block further on and running parallel to the river is Rua Marcílio Diaz, which becomes Rua Sete de Setembro and eventually leads to the beautiful Praça de Santo Antônio . This is definitely the architectural highlight of Caravelas and contains the eponymous Igreja de Santo Antônio , which you may – if you're lucky – find open.