Pernambuco, Brazil

Known for its beautiful beaches, Pernambuco is exotic and remote, providing the ultimate escape from reality.
By: Jennifer Plum Auvil

Overview
A-Listers and adventure travelers are always looking for the next hot vacation destination, complete with pristine beaches, extraordinary activities and a vibrant night life. Brazil's beaches score high on all criteria, making them a popular destination. Known for its beautiful beaches, the state of Pernambuco is exotic and remote, providing the ultimate escape from reality. Perhaps the best part is that the rest of the world has yet to catch on, which keeps the prices reasonable and the crowds manageable.

The most beautiful sandy shores can be found in the tiny fishing village of Porto de Galinhas. The town has a handful of resorts and restaurants, as well as a number of beaches. Maraca��pe is popular with surfers riding the wild waves and the bathing beauties who come to watch. But it's not just about the eye candy at these Brazilian beaches, which boast clear blue waters and a few natural wonders. Muro Alto beach has an impressive stretch of coral reef, and the tidepools off Porto de Galinhas beach are teeming with aquatic wildlife. Scuba divers can check out these tidepools or venture farther offshore to explore shipwrecks.

History buffs ready for a break from the beach can take a journey back in time to the restored 17th-century village of Olinda, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This colonial town is filled with interesting old churches and beautiful mansions. But be sure to head back by nightfall, when the beachside bars fill up with young beauties moving on the dance floor and romantic Brazilian music can be heard on the streets.

Getting There
Nearest Major International Airport: International gateways to Brazil can be found in S��o Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Because of the country's size, it's easiest to get a domestic flight from one of these airports to Guararapes airport in Recifes. To save some money, international travelers should look into purchasing air passes for domestic travel from Brazil's major airlines, Tam Airlines and Varig.

Ground Transportation: Some resorts provide shuttle services from the airport to the beach resorts. Another option is to catch a taxi from the airport to get to your destination.

Timing
Brazil's busy season centers around the country's biggest celebration - Carnaval. Hotels are crowded and prices are high starting from mid-December through Carnaval, which typically falls in February or early March. Pernambuco's weather is warm throughout the year, with temperatures staying between the low 80s to mid-90s Fahrenheit.

Lodging
Budget travelers will be impressed with the selection of beachside resorts in Porto de Galinhas, most offering a nice dose of luxury for a low price. The Nannai Resort ( www.nannai.com.br) is popular with families looking for basic apartments or super-luxurious bungalows on Muro Alto Beach. Another pouplar family spot is the Summerville Resort ( www.summervilleresort.com.br), which offers a kids club to keep the little ones busy. 

Cuisine
Brazilian cuisine draws on nature's bounty, and in the beach areas that means fresh fish and lots of tropical fruit. Restaurants in town serve up the expected seafood dishes as well as regional specialties, like carne do sol (a dried meat dish), and international fare, including sushi. Locals and visitors in the know line up at street vendors to indulge in some of the most popular snacks, including steamed crab, tapioca pancakes and an array of fruit juices.

Travel Tips
The tourist office Porto de Galinhas can be found at Rua da Esperan��a 188 ( www.portodegalinhas.com.br). 

If you don't speak Portuguese, bring along a phrase book so you can communicate easily while traveling.

While You Are Here
Sign up for an island tour in a 4-person beach buggy. These slow-moving vehicles are a great way to cruise the sandy shores and leisurely check out all the beaches. After you've explored on land, take in the view from the water while riding on a traditional jangada raft.

To Fake That You've Been Here
Turn up the Brazilian music and get out your cocktail shaker to try Brazil's national drink, a sweet-and-sour caipirinha (a mixture of lime juice and sugar cane syrup).

Linking for a Better Vacation
For more information, visit the Brazilian Tourism Board at www.braziltour.com.


 

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