Porto de Galinhas
Beach of Boa Viagem - Recife«Recife
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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.
On beach services
Most hotels in Recife are near the beach.
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 kioskes, which sell coconuts, soft drinks and snacks (cooking is forbidden).
On the sand beach, not even kioskes 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 (very good), raw oysters (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 (cheap, because they don't pay copyrights), sunglasses (also extreme cheap, but be warned: not only are they forged, but can also be harmful to your eyes).
The zones of Boa Viagem beach
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.