Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil

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Porto de Galinhas
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Beach of Porto de Galinhas

«Porto de Galinhas

The Beach

Porto's beach is, of course, an important feature. Near the pracinha the beach is very narrow. So narrow, in fact, that at high tide it all but disappears. However, a few minutes walk in either direction will yield a wider (and less crowded) beach. The water is clear, clean, and warm, and the waves are usually very gentle.

Porto de Galinhas is a tourist town, so the beaches are full of walking vendors. Unlike in more urban areas, there is strict regulation of beach vendors, so there are fewer and those that pass by are more polite and safer. The food sold by the vendors inspires more confidence than that of their counterparts in Recife.

However, unlike Recife, there will be a charge for the chairs unless the group consumes a steep minimum. In Recife a beer or two will usually do away with the cost of the chair, but in Porto the minimum is more likely to come out to several drinks per person.

An "attraction" that may be unavoidable is the presence of cantadores on the beach in Porto de Galinhas (and sometimes in Boa Viagem, as well). These are singing guitar players who play a simple melody and improvise quatrains about nearby subjects. Good cantadores are very entertaining, and their competitions ? in which they sing about each other ? are wonderful entertainment. Unfortunately, good cantadores do not play on the beach, and you may find it better to pay a few coins as soon as they start singing, smile, and wave them on.

Piscinas Naturais

The main attraction of Porto de Galinhas are the tide pools ("piscinas naturais"). As one woman in Recife said, "If you went to Porto de Galinhas and you did'nt see the piscinas, you didn?t really go to Porto. You need to go back."

When the tide goes out, the pits in the reef trap water and fish in pools large enough to accommodate twenty or thirty swimmers. There are small sailboats (called jangadas) that ferry people out to the pools for a standard price of R$8 per person. The boatmen (called jangadeiros) are licensed by the city government, and carry food for the fish.

The trip from the beach to the pools takes only a couple of enjoyable minutes. The fish that were not lucky enough to be trapped in the coral pools follow the boats, hoping for a treat. The boat stops at the edge of the coral, and there are three or four large pools full of fearless fish. The fish will avoid contact with any swimmer who gets too close, but otherwise ignore anyone who doesn?t offer food. When a swimmer does offer food, the fish swarm to it ? an experience that frightens more than a few first-timers.

The most famous pool is the "Map of Brazil", which is shaped as its name suggests. The pool is one of the smaller ones, and is zealously guarded by the environmental security guards. Visitors are not allowed to enter this pool.

Visitors should be careful to take sunscreen with them to the pools, as there is absolutely no shade available until the jangada returns to the beach.

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