An hour or two south of Recife, Porto de Galinhas was made for the not-so-extreme tourist. Like a traveller once said, "It's what it doesn't have that makes it great:" no heavy traffic, no nightlife to speak of. Explore the natural tidal pools that form in the reef, feeding fish that swim all around you; or ride a dune buggy to romantic Muro Alto beach. Or skip all that and doze in a hammock by the warm, green, clear Atlantic.
Porto de Galinhas means Port of Chickens; during the 18th century, when the traffic of slaves was forbidden, "chicken" was the code used to refer to the slaves. "There are new chickens in town" was the way to say that a ship loaded with slaves had arrived.
Until a few years ago, Porto de Galinhas was an anonymous small village of fishermen; today, it's a famous one but many of the locals still make a living out of the catches they get from the sea, the coconuts which abound in the palm tree plantations and the small commerce businesses. Around the 1990s, some Brazilian celebrities (TV stars, sportsmen, politicians) discovered this place; from the social/gossip sections, Porto de Galinhas moved to the tourism section of major newspapers and magazines. Being close (around 60 km) to Recife, it was easy for travel operators to include a one-day trip to Porto; soon, the beauty of the place was widespread, and today Porto de Galinhas is one of the most important tourist destination in Brazil.
The village is still small. No more than a couple of streets, laid out in a maze-like grid. There are several restaurants, shops (mostly beach wear), car rentals, agencies operating tours to the neighbourhoods. The beach front is fully taken by hotels, with (few) restaurants in between. The beach line is 18 km long, all with white, fine grained, clean sand. There is a chain of reefs lining all along the coast. During the lower tide, the water trapped by the reefs forms several natural pools; tourists can swim, dive and feed the fishes.