The north-east of Brazil, from a tourist point of view, is all about the beach. The states of Rio Grande do Norte, Paraiba, Pernambuco and Alagoas form this corner of Brazil which juts out into the Atlantic Ocean and also include the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, 350 kilometres off the coast.
The two biggest cities in the area are Recife and Natal which are beach destinations in their own right but better locations lie further afield. Recife, the Venice of Brazil due to its canal system, is certainly worth a visit during carnival time as they have one of the biggest carnival’s in Brazil which combines perfectly with nearby Olinda, the colonial jewel of the north-east. 45 minutes to the south of Recife is the town of Porto de Galinhas, one of the most popular beach towns in Brazil. The ‘port of chickens’ is named as such due to a history which dates back to the slave trade and now people flock to the region for other reasons. The offshore reef which runs down this part of the coast is a big draw as it traps thousands of colourful fish and enables fabulous snorkelling, close to the beach. Just south is Praia do Carneiros, arguably one of Brazil’s finest beaches. The road south of Porto de Galinhas leads into Alagoas state which is less developed with some wonderful little boutique pousadas and untouched beaches. The off-shore reef is still reachable from Maragogi whereas further south in Sao Miguel dos Milagres, tourists are at a minimum. Close to Natal, there are more wonderful beaches, perhaps the best known is the Praia do Pipa, 90-minute drive south of Natal airport. The town is a favourite with backpackers and surfers but has some excellent properties too for a luxury break.
Perhaps the star of the north-east Brazil is away from the mainland by taking an hour long flight to Fernando de Noronha. This is an archipelago of 21 different islands, albeit only one has accommodation on it, and is a protected marine park. Visitor numbers are restricted to the islands and there are only a limited number of hotel beds which makes Fernando de Noronha an exclusive destination. It’s a favoured destination of celebrities, particularly over holiday periods. The main island is home to some beautiful beaches, including the Baia do Sancho, which is regularly voted as one of the top two beaches in the world. The islands are great for snorkelling, there are superb wreck dives just off-shore while many surfers head to the islands for the superb breaks. The north-east makes a perfect end to any trip in Brazil with lots of remote beaches and luxury properties.