In September I went to Brazil and thought it would be interesting to share some tips with you to make you a savvy tourist. We recorded this video — and took the photo above — in Boa Viagem, a neighborhood of Recife, the capital of the state of Pernambuco, in the Northeast of Brazil.
Please keep in mind that Brazil is a very large and diverse country. What I say here may not be the true everywhere in the country, but my experience is that it applies to all major cities.
Food, Drinks, Chairs and Umbrellas
Should you bring a cooler with drinks and snacks? No, you do not need to bring your chairs, umbrellas and coolers to the beach. In fact, you will be better off not doing so. There are people who work selling beverages and food at the beach. When you buy from them, they let you use their chairs and umbrellas. There are chairs and umbrellas for everyone, as there are many sellers at work. If you want to be like a local, that’s the way to do it.
Topless in Brazil
There is no going topless for the ladies in Brazil. How about those movies that you’ve watched? They are rubbish; pure stereotype. In many Brazilian cities it is against the law for ladies to take their tops off. There are a few nude beaches in the country and they are very reserved. In Rio, you may see a few women without their tops. But even there, topless was prohibited until the year 2000 when a woman was actually arrested for not having her top on. The incident caused a lot of protests and the Government decided to drop the ban on topless in Rio.
Swimming not recommended in Recife
In Recife, do no go for a swim if the tide is high. In the past years there has been a big problem with sharks in Recife and many people have been killed or mutilated. This is very sad; when I was growing up there, we did not have this problem and the city frequently hosted surfing competitions. Now, surfing is prohibited and people are strongly advised to bathe in very shallow water. The picture to the right is a sign posted at the heart of Boa Viagem beach.
On the bright side, Recife is surrounded by reefs and when the tide is low in Recife, the reefs form a swimming pool of wonderfully warm water. Then you can have blast without any worries in the world.
In addition, the beaches to the south of Recife — such as Porto de Galinhas and Calhetas — are safe and simply paradisiacal.
Drinks and Snacks
There is plenty to eat and drink at the beach. One of my favorites is queijo na brasa. This is a barbequed Brazilian cheese called qualho. It might not sound impressive, but it is a must try.
You should also have água de coco (coconut water). If you have tried it in other countries, try again in Brazil; it is different. Água de coco not only is delicious and refreshing, but is also very healthy for your body. When you are done with the water, ask the vendor to cut the coconut open; the pulp inside is very good, too.
Finally, you MUST have açaí na tigela (açaí in the bowl). This is açaí pulp blended with guaraná syrup, banana, and ice until you get a thick sorbet. Top it with some banana slices, granola, and honey and you will be in for a treat.
Great! You are ready to go to the beach. Use lots of sun block; you will be close to the Equator. A final tip: always carry small change; very often, vendors will not have change for you.
We hope you have lots of fun at the beach in Brazil. We certainly did 🙂
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