The most beautiful beaches near Vitória are around the town of GUARAPARI, 54km to the south of the state capital, to which it’s linked by buses running every half-hour. There are dozens of hotels here, mostly white skyscrapers catering for visitors from Minas Gerais (prices are generally in the R$41–180 bracket). If you fancy raucous nightlife and holiday-making Brazilian-style, then Guarapari is the place. On the other hand, if you need to escape to somewhere tranquil, a mere 7km to the south of Guarapari along the ES-060 is the Praia dos Padres, a protected area lapped by a wonderfully green sea. Just south of here, the fishing village of Meaípe has some excellent restaurants; the Cantinho do Curuca is especially recommended for its bolinhos de aipim and moqueca capixaba. Meaípe is also a good place to stay overnight. The Pousada Enseada Verde (27/3272-1376, http://www.enseadaverde.com.br; R$71-120), set on a hillside with views along the coast, is particularly comfortable and has a pool. For something a little more basic, try the Pousada do Sol (27/3272-0079; R$71-120). The beaches around here are amongst the finest in southern Espírito Santo, with a pleasant backdrop of hills covered in tropical vegetation, and they’re extremely popular in the summer.

Twenty kilometres south of Guarapari, the town of ANCHIETA is one of the oldest settlements in the state. Of particular interest here is the imposing Santuário Nacional Padre Anchieta (Mon–Fri 9am–noon & 2–5pm, Sat & Sun 9am–5pm; R$2), which dominates the town from a hilltop position. Built sometime around the late sixteenth century as a Jesuit mission, the complex includes a well-kept museum commemorating the evangelical work amongst Indians of the sixteenth-century Jesuit priest José de Anchieta. An important fishing port, Anchieta is one of the few places along this stretch of coast where life isn’t focused on tourism, and, as such, the hotels here are mainly grim. One exception is the Anchieta (27/3536-1258; R$41-70), a sprawling building dating from 1911 that still offers hints of its days as a “grand hotel”. Heading south along the coast you pass a string of small beaches – some of which, like Praia dos Coqueiros, are quite pretty and not overly developed – before reaching IRIRI, a busy holiday resort about 10km from Anchieta with a mix of low-budget pousadas and holiday homes.