Porto de Galinhas
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.
Informações em Português: Porto de Galinhas.
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 (read about History of Recife and Pernambuco); 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.
The best beach in Brazil
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 (read full articles, in Portuguese, here and here). 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.
And why so? 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.
Other similar beaches: Porto is a beach with good infrastructure, situated near a capital city of a State of the Northeast of Brazil. There are a few other beaches with a similar profile, all of them also ranked amongst the most popular in Brazil, and all of them within a short distance from Porto de Galinhas: Pipa (near Natal); Tambaba (near João Pessoa); and Canoa Quebrada and Jericoacoara (near Fortaleza).
Getting there, hotels, restaurants
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. Read more about going from Recife to Porto de Galinhas.
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. Read more about the beaches of de Galinhas.
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.
Read more about hotels in Porto de Galinhas.
Read more about restaurants in Porto de Galinhas.
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. Long lines form outside of nightclubs; read more info about the nightlife in Porto de Galinhas.