Full moon ? YES !
Olinda set the standards quite high leaving us extremely pleased and ready to discover more. We finished our delicious lunch at the Olinda Art & Grill, took a mental picture of the beautiful view and packed the car for our next adventure. We wondered what was in store for us when discovering Porto de Galinhas. Would we receive a warm welcome from the hostel ? Meet another Romilson ? Another encounter with the moon ?
'side note' 1. Porto de Galinhas in English means Port of Chickens. We think it sounds better in Portuguese, where the 'n' and the 'h' form a ñ sound like in spanish. 2. Click here if you would like to read part 1 of 3.
Our car ride would take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes until the Jangada hostel. We programmed both Google maps and the Avis GPS to get the quickest and simplest route. As we drove through Recife, we required a few creative maneuvers. Thankfully we didn’t get into any accidents.
‘side note’ Recife is not as complicated as driving in Rio or New York but you need to stay alert and just use 1 GPS if you can (not 2 like we did).
Once we past Recife, the drive was quite simple. Fortunately, we were blessed with great weather. The colorful scenery was extremely soothing, watching the luscious greens mixed with mountains and a blue sky. We made great timing. Once there, we could easily access the hostel with just a quick U-turn from the main street. At first sight, the Jangada hostel didn’t have the same kind of charm, but we knew that discovering Porto de Galinhas was a beach destination. On a positive note, we found new things like, access to a pool just off to the side. In the front, we could set up a hammock for some quiet time or book a massage! We had access to an outdoor brick charcoal bbq. Overall, the hostel had an open setting which was quite soothing. There were no walls at the front desk nor the breakfast nook.
‘side note’ Porto de Galinhas, is in the municipality of Ipojuca (Pernambuco)
The hostel has 2 accesses to the beach, one daytime gate that leads a direct path (200 meters) and the other main entrance which is also used to access the city center. The theme of the city is, Galinhas (Chickens). We found decorative chickens at the main beach entrances, on top of telephone stops and in many available for purchase at the artisanal gift shops.
We checked in, unpacked the car and placed our clothes inside the armoires. This time, we would spend 3 nights at the Jangada hostel. Once settled in, we met up at the entrance to start discovering Porto de Galinhas. We used the front exit and headed directly to the beach. What a surprise, we found a decorative Galinha at the entrance. There wasn’t much daylight left but we couldn’t pass on the opportunity for a quick dip in the ocean. We sat on the soft white sand and watched the sunset. As it got darker, we slowly made our way to the city center via access from the beach. We had dinner in the city center and walked around to familiarize ourselves.
‘side note’ 1. Next time you stay at a hotel for more than one night, try using the wardrobes. We find it helps set the tone for the stay and allows to properly connect in the new environment. 2. Brazil has some great places for fish and sushi, sadly Porto de Galinhas is not one of them. They have great pizzas and escondidinho, which is their take on Sheppard’s pie.
The next day, we made our way to the beach first thing. By 9am we already found our seats. The sun shone and the sky was blue. Now to plan our next adventure. The main attraction in Porto de Galinhas is what they call ‘natural pools’. These pools would form in and around the coral as the sea receded. Just the water in between the corals would stay, which is what causes this phenomenon. We were told the low tide would occur between 11h-14h, our next adventure had arrived. Per locals, it’s best to experience the natural pools during the full moon cycle since the tide is lower than average. Now we didn’t plan our trip according with the moon’s cycle but it looks like we lucked out. Had we booked the trip a week before or after, we wouldn't have had the same experience !
‘side notes’ 1. There is no need to bring loads of equipment at the Porto de Galinhas beach. It’s quite busy, full of restaurants and merchants waiting for you. They set chairs and sun umbrellas in front of their establishment. You can ‘use’ their chairs and umbrellas for free IF you order food and drinks from them. Additionally, the merchants sell anything that you can imagine and accept major credit cards. 2. You can walk and swim to the corals during low tide OR pay a value of 25 Reais and a sail boat take you.
It didn’t take us very long to understand the logistics of this beach. There was a pattern, everyone was out to sell us something. The restaurants sold us their food and chairs, the sailors sold us a trip to the corals and others sold day trips to various local beaches. Finally, we must have seen hundreds of carts pass in front of us selling anything from fresh fish to feijoada (Brazil’s national dish) and electronic gadgets to waterproof cell phone cases. If you ‘forgot’ to bring something to the beach, chances are you can buy it there. They bring the store to you so you can enjoy more of the beach.
When the time was right we made our way to the natural pools. Many suggested we could easily walk to see the corals but we opted for the sailboat option to set the mood. It was a thing of beauty to see more than dozens of sailboats floating on top of the turquoise/blue water. First, the sailboat brought us to see corals. This stop was simply to walk around and enjoy the beauty of the natural pools. Ironically, we found the outline of Brazil as demonstrated in this photo. Second, they took us to a larger area for us to swim with the fish. We entered what felt like a life size aquarium. The sand at the bottom was like millions of salt crystals which left the water sparkling clean making it easier for us to discover the thousands of fish.
‘side notes’ 1. You can stay with peace of mind when you choose the chairs in front of the establishment. The restaurant owner would watch our remaining belongings while we went to the corals. 2. They change the paths on the coral to help them regenerate and rebuild. There are also specific places to swim with the fish 3. You can bring your snorkel gear but they also sell or rent them. 4. Sunscreen may not be enough, try to bring a t-shirt or a thin Under Armour shirt with long sleeves for sun protection.
Once our tour finished, we headed back to our set up for some lunch. The restaurant owner brought us a platter explaining the 3 types of fish he could prepare. All we had to do was relax in our chairs. At this point we witnessed a sea of carts selling anything to everything, portable speakers for ipod music, sunglasses, hats, shirts, shrimp, fish, oysters, drawings, ice cream, cheese on the bbq, milho verde (corn). These are just some examples of what we saw. It continued this way the rest of the afternoon.
Around mid-afternoon we headed back to the hostel for a quick nap to recharge. The hostel owner talked about a place to see the sunset, called Maracaipe. Tired from the sun, we slept the remaining of the afternoon. Once we woke, we needed to make a quick decision as the sun was already setting. So, we got into the car and rushed to see the sunset.
Thankfully Viviane, the hostel owner, gave us specific instructions otherwise we don't think we would have found Maracaipe. We parked the car on the street, walked along an 800 meter passage and ran across the high tide hitting a brick wall (leaving us totally wet). Up ahead, we saw a deserted beach and a cloudy sky. We didn’t get the spectacular sunset we hoped for but we found a new location and were content with that. After 10-15 minutes, the sky cleared up a little and we left satisfied.
Later at the city center, we looked for an inspiring place for dinner. After walking a couple of block, we thought the city is no different than the beach. Each restaurant had representatives roaming the streets to talk about their specials and to invite us. We found pizza specials in the front of a quaint restaurant named Madioca. They didn’t have a street representatives which we felt was welcoming. Totally satisfied with the location, pizzas and service, we visited again the following night to experience another Brazilian dish from their menu, ‘Escondidinho’ also known as Sherpard’s pie. The Brazilian version is made with dried meat and manioc, which looks like potatoes but apparently the healthier alternative. Mardioca also offered some well-crafted art, decorations, caipirinhas and local fruit juices like the juice of 'Umbu Caja' fruit which was unheard of but very delicious.
'side note' The street representatives were very respectful and non aggressive when we declined their offer. During these hard times in Brazil, everyone is trying to find a way to get more business.
Other beaches to visit while discovering Porto de Galinhas, Muro Alto beach, Maracaipe or Calhetas which is in Cabo de Santo Agostinho. They rent various non-motor water sports equipment like kayaks, stand ups, surf boards and other. We also noticed buggy rentals near the Maracaipe beach.
The Muro Alto beach was nice, but it wasn’t our favorite. Muro Alto means high wall, which consisted of a coral wall dividing the sea about 100 meters out from the beach. The only problem we saw was a neaby Port de Suape, which left us wondering about cleanliness of the water.
Discovering Calhetas was also nice, it was difficult to find but thanks to Google maps we arrived. It’s what they call ‘tombo beach’ in Portuguese, a short beach that is deep as soon as you enter.
‘side note’ It’s amazing to see Google’s discovery of remote dirt roads. We could rely on Google maps and be with peace of mind.
While discovering Porto de Galinhas we planned a visit to a beach called Praia de Carneiros. Knowing about our itinerary, the hostel owner Viviane recommended we visit on the way to Maragogi (our next destination). We would gain a day by visiting Carneiros
on the way to Maragogi. We prepared ourselves for our new adventures and filled up with a hearty breakfast. Blessed with 3 wonderful days discovering Porto de Galinhas, we thanked the staff, asked Viviane to take a picture with us for our blog and set out to our next destination.
Next blog – Discovering Carneiros, the Pernambuco wildcard !