Bobbing in warm water inches above the ragged stretch of reef, I glance around to try and find what had looked like a piece of brown cardboard floating in the sea.
Moments later my heart skips a beat as a tiny head peers out out of the waves a few metres away, looks straight at me and then darts back under.
Feeding on the algae-rich rock, turtles are a common sight for the locals in the tranquil bay of Itaquena, in Trancoso.
But for a beach-starved Brummie whose only experience of the creatures thus far is of the Teenage Mutant Ninja variety, chancing upon the shy reptiles in their natural habitat is an extraordinary experience.
For around an hour we cautiously tread water, excited as we glimpse a head here or a shell or flipper there.
The golden, palm-lined sand of the remote beach remains empty of tourists, most of whom laze on sun loungers further up the coast in luxurious Arraial D’Ajuda, or stroll around the historic colonial centre in Porto Seguro.
Trancoso was “discovered” by hippies in the 1970s and has since become an idyllic retreat that retains a relaxed atmosphere, a safe distance from its noisier neighbours.
The small town marks the separation point between two very different, but equally striking coastal backdrops.
Turn left and you find dramatic rose-hued cliffs. Turn right and a a lush green vegetation awaits. While out to sea, local fishermen cast their nets from painted wooden boats.
The quadrado, or town square, with its pretty church is illuminated by small brightly-painted artesan stores and eateries during the day and twinkling lights and candles beneath a blanket of stars at night.
Our host, Ana, tells us that here in the state of Bahia, everything moves at a slower pace than elsewhere in Brazil. If only this applied to the turtles…