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Porto de Galinhas

Riding down miles of clear road does wonders for clearing the mind. And as the sun finally peeked through layered pillows of slowly shifting rain clouds, ones that had been haunting Recife for far too long, I was elated.

Porto de Galinhas, literally “Port of the Chickens/Chicken Port”, is only an hour and a half away or so from Recife is the host to one of the most beautiful beaches Brazil has to offer. Whenever a local asked where we were visiting during my trip, the first suggestion they had that rolled off their tongues without hesitance was Porto de Galinhas – and for good reason.

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Driving into the area was even magical, forests of palm trees encompassing the port swaying in the breeze, little to no traffic, and colourful cafes and small shops lining the roads. Once you stroll for a few minutes through some pedestrianised streets filled with shops selling a variety of beach-wear, food and drinks you arrive at the beach and it’s nothing short of stunning; all you need to do is look out to the crystal clear water and light golden sand and know that this is maybe one of the best beaches you have ever seen or been to. I can’t say I’ve been to a lot of beaches, but this by far is the winner.

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I had to touch the water to believe it, swishing my hands around and splashing like a toddler in the warm water – it looked clean enough to put in a glass and sip. Rows of shallow sail boats boasting colourful patterned sails lined the beachfront, offering rides to tourists to the rock pools only a 20-30 metres or so away from the shore, exposed by the low tide. When on the boat, which seemed to just be constructed from a light wooden raft which seats and benches stuck on the top, a local will use a giant paddle to push away from the shore and toward the rock pools. Once reached, you can explore the natural tidal pools that form in the reef, filled with fish and various coloured crustaceans. But be careful not to get your flipflop stuck in the jagged reef beds…. One famous pool is even shaped like Brazil, and imagination isn’t even needed – it truly does.

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Back on the boat, you’re taken to bright turquoise pools filled with silver, yellow and blue striped fish the size of your hand waiting for food (or a surrendered finger). And if not so aqua-phobic (like myself) put on a sea mask and swim alongside the fish in the warm clear water, and experience not to be forgotten.

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The tide is not to be forgotten when near the sea, so arrive in the morning for optimum enjoyment and the chance to even get on a boat – the rock pools slowly disappear under waves of sea water engulfing the shore and everything on it. Before having to evacuate, we swam in the water and lay on beach chairs, the breezing cooling our warm skin and the shade of the umbrella providing sanctuary from the searing sun. Food vendors are in constant flux on the sand, walking up and down with portable carts and trolleys, selling a variety of Brazilian specials; qeijo na brasa (like grilled halloumi on a stick), churros, ice cream and more. A notable dish however was a fresh fish broth; composed of various fish, shrimp, and seafood, it was stew-like, bold and extremely delicious. Topped with cassava flour and optional hot sauce, what could bring you closer to the atlantic?

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The streets of the port, just next to the coast.

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Alas, despite the beauty of Porto de Galinhas don’t forget to apply suncream… I became more burned than a piece of bread forgotten in a toaster.

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