Recife Living & Porto de Galinhas Beach

Recife is the capital of the Northeastern Brazilian State of Pernambuco.

It has been called the “Venice of South America,” and also dubbed one of the most dangerous cities in Brazil.

The beach in the Boa Viagem neighborhood is said to be the most shark infested water in the world, and Recife’s carnival celebration is ranked among the best anywhere.

They say; don’t go in the water, don’t go out at night, but make sure you stay for carnival!

Recife Brazil - Shark Sign

With all these mixed reviews and emotions, I had to come to Recife and write my own story about this place.

I spent time in Recife’s historical center where I took in all the bright buildings and friendly faces.

I listened to the traditional Brazilian music like Frevo and Forró in the streets and witnessed all the preparations for this year’s carnival.

As I mention in the video, one of the main attractions during Carnival here Recife and neighboring Olinda are the Bonecos Gigantes or Giant Puppets, and I happened to follow a guy into the “Giant Puppet Embassy” to see the incredible (yet creepy) collection of celebrities, athletes and public figures.

Recife Brazil - Bonecos Gigantes Carnaval

The best experience in Recife actually came on a visit to the city’s largest Favela of Brasilia Teimosa, where a local friend invited me to an after-school program that she’s involved with.

The group is called Driblando Crack and it uses sports like soccer to help kids within the community of Brasilia Teimosa avoid drugs and trafficking.

Recife Brazil - Brasilia Teimosa

I loved hanging out with those kids all afternoon, despite the fact that they kicked my butt in futebol.

That evening I went back downtown and caught a sunset cruise tour through the wide canals and rivers around Recife’s historical center.

Recife Brazil - Historical Center Boat Tour

The next morning I was up early to go on a little adventure. I borrowed my friend’s car and set out on a day trip to Porto de Galinhas.

Porto de Galinhas outside Recife, Brazil

I was actually planning to go to Porto de Galinhas and Praia de Carneiros, but after leaving Porto de Galinhas I got lost on my way to Praia de Carneiros and didn’t arrive until well passed sunset.

Stay tuned for the bloopers reel for that full story.

Anyway, despite a slightly overcast day, Porto de Galinhas was beautiful and a great day trip from Recife.

There are so many amazing beaches in Northeastern Brazil that you could spend a year here and still not see them all.

After a great day at the beach, I made the hour and a half journey back to Recife for some good old fashion Karaoke.

Nothing beats a whole-in-the-wall bar on the wrong side of town with the right kind of people to cap off a trip.

Say what you will about Recife, but my story turned out pretty damn good. I like this place.


My name is Gareth Leonard, a Marketing Director turned World Traveler with a passion for slow, meaningful travel. I have been traveling the world full-time for the past 9+ years and document it all on Instagram and YouTube. Come join me!


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