During my last visit to Brazil, we decided to travel to the northeast part of the country since we previously stayed mostly in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. The northeast is considered the “Brazilian Caribbean” because of its amazing beaches, warm turquoise water, and palm trees. We chose to stay in “Porto de Galinhas”, a small village in Pernambuco.
Why did we choose this town? Well, it’s an absolutely beautiful place known for its natural pools and paradisiac beaches. It’s also super close to other towns with equally amazing beaches, that you can do for a quick day trip.
To start, let’s talk about how to get there:
Since there’s no airport in Porto de Galinhas, you have to fly into Recife, the closest major city, and then take a car/bus/Uber/cab, which is about an hour drive. We booked a private car in advance to pick us up and drop us off at the airport. We paid around $100 for this service. You can spend less and get a shared shuttle, but it’ll take longer to get you to your place since the vehicle will make multiple stops. You can also rent a car, which I personally don’t recommend because the roads aren’t that nice and its dangerous for non-locals. It’s possible to pay less with Uber, but it all depends when you go and the conditions. Don’t forget that this is a small village, and sometimes it isn’t easy to find Uber to take you back at the airport the time you need (we had to be at the airport around 12:30am, so we decided to have a driver pick us up at a set time, no issues there.)
This is the website where I scheduled the private shuttle: www.transferrecifeporto.com.br
Additionally, flying into Recife can be expensive and far depending where you’re flying from. If you come from the North part of Brazil or Central America it’s not that bad, but depending on the continent you come from, it can be a loooong flight. In order to fly into Recife you most likely have to stop in Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, which is about 5 hours away by plane.
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed at a resort hotel that was AMAZING! One of the most beautiful hotels and rooms we’ve stayed in. The resort is Village Porto de Galinhas , located in Ipojuca, a 15 minute walk or 5 minute drive to the city where the natural pools are. Carnaval is definitely the most expensive time of year to travel to Brazil, so I’d schedule this trip during the off season, the city will be less crowded and everything will be cheaper.
There are many luxury resorts and simple pousadas available there, so you can stay here on a budget if you need to. If you don’t rent a car, stay in Ipojuca since it’s the closest to town.
WHAT TO DO
- NATURAL POOLS
Of course you’ll want to lay on the beach to relax and drink caipirinhas the whole day, BUT there are a lot of fun things to do in the city and around the city. One of the main attractions there is visiting the natural pools in Porto de Galinhas Beach. It’s the easiest/closest thing to do, since it’s right in the central area and it’s a quick, cheap and beautiful attraction. In the pools you’ll be able to see and swim with beautiful fish, but just be attentive to the ocean level. Typically the morning is the best time to go, since the ocean usually low tide, but everyday it changes. You can check your hotel or signs in the town that have information on the tide level and time.
To get to the pool you take a sort of raft to the beach which costs R$30 per person (around US$8). First they’ll take you to see the pools for around 20 minutes, then you’ll be able to snorkel for another 20/30 minutes. It’s best to go early before the other rafts - once other people start moving around in the water it becomes foggy and is difficult to see fish.
- BUGGY RIDE
Another famous attraction: buggy rides. One of the best ways to get to experience all of the beaches in Porto de Galinhas is renting a buggy for a few hours and enjoying the refreshing sea breeze. Most companies offer this service for 4 to 6 hours and costs approximately R$250 (around US$65) for 4 people + the company’s driver (tourists are not allowed to drive the buggies). There are so many companies offering this service in town, that you don’t need to book it in advance. There are people in the town with signs for buggy rides that will come up to you. The evening before we spoke with a company that offered 6 hours for R$200 the next day. They picked us up at the hotel around noon and took us to 3 different beaches:
PONTAL DO CUPE – nice beach to relax and snorkel.
MURO ALTO – the calmest water because of its huge “wall” of corals. There are many outdoor activities available, such as stand up paddle boarding and kayaking.
We also went to “coconut highway” where you’ll see hundreds of coconut trees, drink fresh and extremely cheap coconut water AND have the opportunity to see the “cocodrone”, a guy that stays at the top of a coconut tree (via ladder) taking pictures of people on their buggies (like a drone). YES, I was shocked, but it’s true lol. The proof:
We stopped to have lunch in Maracaipe Beach and from there we went to our last stop: Pontal do Maracaipe, which has a mangrove. We took another raft that cost R$20 per person and passed by the mangroves to watch one of the most beautiful sunsets we’ve ever seen. From there, the buggy took us back to the hotel around 6:30/7pm.
Praia dos Carneiros
One of the most beautiful beaches in Pernambuco, located one hour away from Porto de Galinhas. Most people spend a day there to enjoy the beautiful nature and warm water.
It is possible to stay in Carneiros, but since there’s not much to do there, most people stay in Porto de Galinhas and do a day trip. We did this day trip with LUCK RECEPTIVO and it cost R$100 per person, for a roundtrip bus ride and boat tour. When we were there, we stayed in a restaurant in front of the beach (called Bora Bora), where you can sit and order food, or reserve “VIP” areas and bungalows. The “VIP” area costs R$20 per table – not including food or drinks, and the bungalows starts at R$250 including a meal for two, dessert and a bottle of prosecco. We chose the bungalow and it was totally worth it (about USD$60).
The boat tour took us to a sandbank and a natural clay beach, which took about an hour. Then, we had the entire day to relax on the beach or at the restaurant.
Overall we stayed in Porto de Galinhas for four nights, which I think is a good amount of time. While there were many cool activities to do, relaxing on a beautiful beach will always be my favorite! The town was very lively throughout the day, and especially at night (we went during Carnival). Most restaurants close pretty late for a small town, so don’t worry about having nothing to do at night. Our resort was in front of an empty beach where only guests were allowed to stay, so it was very calm.
Culinary in the North of Brazil is one of my favorites. There are so MANY amazing restaurants with delicious regional food (focused on a lot of seafood, of course), which I’ll have a separate post about.
Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @eat_travel_andlove to see my trips and restaurants I’ve visited in real time. If you’re planning to go to Porto de Galinhas and have any questions about it, let me know in the comments or send me an email.