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Beaches in Recife

The coast of Pernambuco is 187 km long, and one of the most beautiful in Brazil. All the beaches are at a short driving distance from Recife - São José da Coroa Grande, the beach farthest to the south, is less than two hours away; Carne de Vaca, near Paraíba, is a bit more than one hour away. Pick your beach and have fun.

Recife Beaches
Located in the middle of the Pernambuco Coast.

The Boa Viagem beach, in Recife, is probably the best known urban beach in Brazil, theme of songs and movies; Boa Viagem combines warm water and fine sand with the infra-structure of a modern metropolis prepared to welcome tourists.

Recife is located at roughly the middle of the Pernambuco coast; so, the beaches of Pernambuco may be divided in the northern coast (from Recife to the border with Paraíba) and southern coast (from Recife to the border with Alagoas).

Boa Viagem Beach.

This is the most famous beach in Recife. Boa Viagem goes from the Pina, in the north, to the beach of Piedade, in the south; from end to end, Boa Viagem is about 7 km long.The beach is protected by a line of natural reefs, after which the city was named.

When the tide lowers, many natural pools are formed all along the shore line; also, during low tide, you can walk on the top of the reefs, which are wide and flat enough but slippery. During the high tide periods, the reefs are fully covered by the water. Even if you are able to, make sure you don't swim or surf past the reefs, as there have been cases of attacks by sharks. Restaurants are not allowed on the sidewalk of the beach. You will have to go across the avenue to eat in a restaurant.

There are only kiosks, which sell coconuts, soft drinks and snacks as cooking is forbidden. On the sand beach, not even kiosks are allowed. However, you don't have to bring your own food and drink: most recifenses make use of the barracas and the ambulantes. A barraca is an informal business, in which the owner places a few chairs on the sand and stands by, selling beer, drinks, water (occasionaly, some food - best avoided).

Chairs are usually free, provided you buy something; the owners of the barracas have been there for quite a long (there is a fight for those points), and are usually well known by their patrons. However, as this business is informal (there is no price table), make sure you ask for prices before sitting down, to avoid the tourist mark ups.

Ambulantes are the people who walk up and down the beach offering all kind of stuff, including food. You will be offered cashew nuts, raw oysters which are good, and cheap, fried shrimps, fried fish, natural sandwiches, caldinhos (small portions of liquidified soups), codornas eggs (small eggs of a Brazilian bird, said to have aphrodisiac effects), several fruits, ice cream, etc. Besides food, the ambulantes will also offer you every kind of stuff, like artcrafts, hammocks, hats, CDs and sunglasses.

The seven kilometers of Boa Viagem can be divided in a few zones. The extreme south, close to Piedade, is frequented mostly by locals. Services here don't catter for tourists; expect lower quality at lower prices.

The stretch between the far south and the Praca de Boa Viagem is often referred to as Setubal. It's also mostly frequented by people living in the neighbourhood, but most of them are of the middle class. In this area, the sand strip is narrow, because of the advance of the sea (and despite the efforts of the government to prevent it); when the tide is high, very little dry space is left.

From the Praca de Boa Viagem northwards, spanning about 4 km, is the most frequented zone of the beach. Most hotels and pousadas are here, either in the main avenue or in nearby streets. A good part of middle and upper classes of Recife lives here, and, of course, they also come to the beach.

The sand strip is wider here, leaving more space for football and volley courts. The walkway has several spots for gymnastics; it's also the preferred area of joggers. The high concentration of tourists attracts plenty of businesses (restaurants, shops, services, etc) and ambulantes; also, this is the best policed area in Recife. This Recife webcam shows this area of Boa Viagem.

Porto de Galinhas Beach.

Porto de Galinhas is one of the most famous beaches in Brazil; according to magazines and travellers, it is THE best beach in Brazil.

Porto changed from a fishermen village to the playground of Brazil's richest and most famous to become, in recent years, a popular vacation spot for domestic travelers. The origin of the name is well known. Porto de Galinhas means "Port of Chickens" in Portuguese. In the second half of the 19th century, the Brazilian government imposed restrictions to the commerce of slaves, which were widely used as manpower in the sugarcane farms around Recife to circumvent the prohibition, the "black ships" (which transported slaves from Africa to Brazil) looked for other places to harbor, far from Recife. One such place was in the bays around Suape and Ipojuca, about 60 km to the South of Recife. When a ship arrived in town, as it was prohibited to mention slavery, the word spread as "there are new chickens in the port"; hence, the place gained its name Porto de Galinhas.

In 2006, the readers of Viagem e Turismo (Voyage and Tourism), one of the most important travel magazines published in Brazil, elected Porto de Galinhas as the best beach in Brazil. More impressive is the fact that this was the 6th time in a row that Porto is awarded the prize; ever since Viagem e Turismo started this survey, Porto de Galinhas has won all the prizes in this category. Several other magazines rank Porto as, if the not the best, one among the best beaches in Brazil. According to V&T, a few points distinguish Porto from the others.

Porto is in the northeast of Brazil, near the Equatorial line, which means sunny weather, warm sea, permanent breeze; Porto is of easy access, under 100 km from a major city, Recife, with all its infrastructure, including a modern airport; Porto has a multitude of hotels and restaurants, catering for pockets of all sizes; this touristic infrastructure gives visitors all the comfort they want, leaving out stress and violence. The beach and the village of Porto de Galinhas are situated in the municipality of Ipojuca; the economy of Ipojuca had been thriving in recent years thanks to the boom of tourism, and now, with a new oil refinery being built, Ipojuca is going to become the city with the second largest economy in the State of Pernambuco.

Access to Porto is via two highways, BR-101 and PE-60. Federal BR-101 goes from the airport to the vicinities of the Suape Port, and is double laned all the way; State PE-60, about 20 km long, has many more curves and only one lane each way. The village of Porto de Galinhas is very small; indeed, only a couple of streets with a central square, called Pracinha. The village concentrates restaurants, shops and the residences of the local dwellers; most hotels occupied spaces along the beach, both North of Porto (towards Muro Alto) and South of Porto (towards Maracaípe).

Also, it is from the village visitors depart to boat and buggy trips to the beaches in the neighbourhood of Porto. All of the commerce in Porto is within a couple of blocks of the Pracinha. Further out, in any direction, and the city is purely private homes, hotels, and pousadas. The principal streets are Rua da Esperança, Rua dos Navegantes, Rua das Piscinas Naturais, and Rua Beijupirá. Rua da Esperança runs from the extreme edge of town to the beach, and the other three are perpendicular to it. Porto de Galinhas is an isolated resort town, and a booming one at that. Everything costs two or three times what it would in Recife.

A room in a pousada, that would cost R$20 or R$30 per night in Olinda, costs R$50 to R$100 in Porto de Galinhas. A simple lunch of meat, macaxeira, rice, and beans would cost R$3 Recife, and costs R$8 in Porto de Galinhas. The locals buy everything that they need in Recife, and if you plan to stay for more than a day, you should do the same.The nature of Porto de Galinhas can change on holiday weekends (and there is no shortage of long weekends in Brazil). In particular, when a holiday weekend is combined with a high-profile concert in nearby Maracaípe, hordes of partiers from Recife descend upon the city, irritating the locals and filling all available space. Prices soar at pousadas and hotels.

Beaches on the Southern Coast of Pernambuco.

Piedade

The name means "Piety". The Piedade beach, urban, is located in the city of Jaboatão dos Guararapes, which makes border to the south of Recife. The Piedade beach is an extension of Boa Viagem beach, with many bars, restaurants and other fun options.

A small difference is that, while hotels in Boa Viagem are separated from the beach by an avenue (Avenida Boa Viagem), the hotels at the beaches of Jaboatão (which also include Candeias and Barra de Jangada) have a direct access to the sand. Another difference is that, because there are fewer hotels (and tourists) in Jaboatão, the beaches are frequented mostly by locals.

Candeias

Also an urban beach of Jaboatão, Candeias, with 3 km of extension, is also similar to Boa Viagem beach. Candeias has few hotels, but a good number of good restaurants by the beach.

Barra de Jangada

Near Recife, very quiet. Good for those looking for tranquility.

Itapuama

Beautiful beach, strong waves. It used to be a point for surfing, but, because of sharks, the activity was forbidden. Distant 45 km from Recife. Itapuama offers a camping area. Access: BR-101 south, PE-60, PE-29.

Paiva

Distance 46 km from Recife. The beach is semi-desert, and is not protected by the reefs. Near Paiva, there is a well of black mud, that is believed to be healthy for the skin. Access via Itapuama beach.

Pedra do Xaréu

The name means "Stone of xaréus"; xaréu is a kind of fish which abounds in the area. Semi-desert beach, with a few kiosks offering meals and drinks. Protected by reefs, which causes the formation of natural pools during the low tide.

Enseada dos Corais

The name means "Corals Cove". The beach is protected by the reefs; the waves are small, and natural pools are common. Several condos have been built around this area; the beach becomes busy in weekends and holidays. Distance from Recife: 47 km.

The beaches of Enseada dos Corais, Gaibu, Calhetas and Paraíso belong to the municipality of Cabo do Santo Agostinho.

Gaibu

Also protected by reefs, the beach of Gaibu has tranquil waters, small waves. Many bars and restaurants along the beach. Gaibu was discovered by hippies in past years, and to date maintains an air of freedom.

Calhetas

This is one of the most beautiful beaches in Pernambuco and Brazil. Many palm trees, crystal clear waters. Calhetas is a preferred destination for practioners of diving and submarine fishing. Distant 49 km from Recife.

Cabo de Santo Agostinho

Not a beach, but a city many beaches belong to. There are some observatories, from where one can have a vision of a large part of the coast, from Recife to the Port of Suape.The city preserves many historic buildings, such as the Fortress of Santo Agostinho (stage of battles between Portuguese and Dutch) and the Church of Nossa Senhora do Nazaré, which date back to the 16th century.

Beaches on the Southern Coast of Pernambuco.

Carne de Vaca

The funny name means "Meat of Cow" in Portuguese. Because of the proximity of river Goiana, the waters of this beach are a bit dark. There is a village of fishermen, where some rustic restaurants offer meals; infrastructure is poor, but the area is growing fast (real estate is still very cheap, attracting many investors). Distance is 70 km from Recife.The beaches of Carne de Vaca and Ponta de Pedras are part of the city of Goiana which has a very rich History.

Ponta de Pedras

The name means "Point of Stones". Small waves, good for bathing; occasionally, a large amount of seaweed washes into the beach. Distance 70 km from Recife.

Ilha de Itamaracá

The Itamaracá Island comprehends several beaches, most of which with clear water and small waves. This was the area where the Dutch disembarked, when they invaded Brazil back in the 17th century; the Forte Orange (Fortress Orange), built by the Dutch, was turned into a museum open to visitation.

The small island of Coroa do Avião (Crown of the Airplane) is also located in Itamaracá.


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