Sand, Sun, and Snorkeling at Porto de Galinhas

Paradise
Paradise found

As I was researching where to go during our Brazil trip, I was urged by a Brazilian friend to try the beaches of the Northeast. We’ve all heard that the beaches of Brazil were legendary, but I never understood why. After our stay in Porto de Galinhas, I now know what the hype is all about. With natural pools caused by the low tide and miles of clean beaches framed by perfectly swaying palm trees, little Porto de Galinhas was an unforgettable destination for us.

With low tide occurring at 10am, we wanted to make sure to get out in time to explore these unique tide pools. Little fishing boats were lined up, ready to take us on the short ride out to the reef although the water was shallow enough that one could have even walked out there. All along the reef were nooks and crannies of all sizes – little ones that crabs ran in and out of, and large ones that were full of fish trapped inside once the tide went back out. There was even a large pool that was shaped just like Brazil! We had the chance to explore these pools before being taken out to a separate area where we could snorkel. We didn’t see anything at first and then all of a sudden, we were surrounded by brightly colored fish! It was cool and scary at the same time since it’s still slightly creepy to think about touching a fish.

Jangadas, or fishing boats, lined up and ready to take us out to the reefs
Jangadas, or fishing boats, lined up and ready to take us out to the reefs
Looking for crabs inside natural pools
Looking for crabs inside natural pools
Coral reefs
Heading out towards the halfway underwater reefs
Little crab
One of many little crabs scrambling about
Reefs exposed by the low tide
Reefs exposed by the low tide
It looks calm above water but we were surrounded by brightly colored fish below the surface
It looks calm above water but we were surrounded by brightly colored fish below the surface

Once back to shore, we decided to take a walk to explore the beach, but not without a fresh, made-to-order pina colada served inside the pineapple it was made from. We even got to keep the extra pineapple to eat, which they sweetened with a little condensed milk. While the beach area right by the village of Porto de Galinhas was very busy and touristy, with vendors charging for umbrellas and selling you everything under the sun, to the left and right of this area were stretches of nearly secluded, prime beach real estate. It was actually a perfect setting on a beautiful day (in stark contrast to yesterday’s deluge).

The afternoon was spent indulging in everything the little village had to offer. Most of the village was only accessible by foot, making it very manageable and also quaint. We stopped for some Brazilian ice cream – not the best ice cream we’ve had abroad but some delicious tropical flavors like coconut and pineapple.  It was also here where we were introduced to the delightful flavors of tapioca – a gummy yet crispy “crepe” filled with savory or sweet fillings, using dry tapioca flour that somehow “melts” into a pancake over the stovetop. Tapioca da Praia was known for having the best tapiocas in town, and from our extensive tasting efforts, the best tapiocas we had on our entire trip. This afternoon, Doug had one with guava and cheese (strange combo but it really worked), while I had one with cheese, dulce de leche, and coconut. Best beach snack ever!

Mobile tropical cocktail cart on the beach
Mobile tropical cocktail cart on the beach
There is nothing wrong with having a giant pina colada in a pineapple at 11am...right?
There is nothing wrong with having a giant pina colada at 11am…right?
Tapioca, our favorite Brazilian street snack.  This one was delectable, filled with dulce de leche, cheese, and coconut
Tapioca, our favorite Brazilian street snack. This one was delectable, filled with dulce de leche, cheese, and coconut.  Mmmm mmm.

We spent nearly the entire afternoon hanging on the beach, a rarity for anyone who knows Doug or me. But it was one of our best days during the entire vacation. The water was amazingly warm, with wave after wave coming in, and even I could go pretty far out into the waves without being in too deep. After playing in the water (and getting a mean sunburn!), we rented an umbrella and enjoyed caipirinhas while the tide started to come in, nearly taking my flip flops with it. The tide came in so far that half the beach was washed away on our walk back, fully covering the tide pools we saw earlier that same day.

Low tide
Low tide earlier in the morning
Picture perfect beach at Porto de Galinhas
Same area of the beach just a few hours later (apparently the sun decided to finally show up too)
Beach
The more populated side of the beach.  You could literally have any food or drink hand delivered to your umbrella.

We did a little shopping that evening, finding a sandals store filled with more varieties of Havaianas than one could ever imagine, and finding a crucial Brazil #10 Neymar t-shirt for tomorrow’s big match. Our dinner at Beijupira was probably the best meal we had on our entire trip, with a beautiful outdoor setting to boot. Without really knowing what we were getting, we ordered the queijo coalho, which came out as 6 skewers of marinated cheese that we could grill over an open flame, and likely some of the best cheese I have ever eaten. The menu was very contemporary, taking Brazilian specialties and adding some interesting, tropical ingredients.  My dish was a filet of fish coated with sesame seeds and pan fried, served with mango sauce.  Sounded a bit bizarre but it really did work.  Satisfied and full, we wandered around the super safe village a little before we retired for the night.

Interactive dining experience
Using our smores-roasting experience to grill some delicious Brazilian cheese
Perfection! (yes I like my cheese burnt)
Perfection! (yes I like my cheese burnt)
My fish dish
Tropical fish dish with mango sauce and sesame seeds
Doug's steak dish
Doug’s steak dish

 

HOW WE DID IT:

Visiting the natural pools: we walked right out onto the beach and got accosted by various vendors.  I don’t think there is much of a difference between any of them but the going rate should be around R$20 for two people.  But it should also be easy to walk right out to the pools as the tide is very low.

Dinner at Beijupira which was in the heart of Porto de Galinhas – very easy to walk to

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