Hey! My name is Cristina and I'm a 25 years old literature teacher from Santiago, Chile. My dream is travelling all arround latinoamerica, and I've started going on 1 month summer vacations 2 years ago. My first big backpacking trip was to the northeast region of Brazil's coast. I flew to Rio and stayed one weeks there because I was visiting a friend, but then the adventure started: I took a plane to Recife and started backpacking for 3 weeks to the south. Final destination: Salvador da Bahía.
First some advice:
In Brazil the UBER is insanely cheaper than it is Chile, so when I went out to parties and going to my hostal in the night I used the app. During the day I recommend using the public transport like buses (in the northeast, little Combis are the public buses). As Christianne suggested in her channel, I bought a SIM card the first day I landed in Brazil, so I could use the GPS and share my location with my friend in Rio (security measure) and, at the same time, to know when to get out of the bus LOL.
In Recife I stayed at the Pina zone, wich is quite safe. The hostel, called Cosmopolitan Hostel, was SO beautiful and cheap (they have a pool that looks like a bathtub, wich is AMAZING for night photos). Here is the best one:
There are supermarkets, drugstores and so many restaurants at the Pina's beach. But be carefull, you can't swimm in Pina because sharks loves hot water... Please don't google Pina beach + shark.
The first day I went to Olinda on public transport, a colonial city at the top of Recife that has the Sacred Arts Museum of the Pernambuco region, the Alto Da Sé lookout and very colourful houses. I didn't spend more than 3 hours there because it was very small and quiet, so I went a little further to the north. I found a gem, Pontal de Maria Farinha, but it was very difficult to get there. I took 2 public buses and a Uber to an unknown beach, from where I walked one hour north with an amazing view. There's only one restaurant at the top of the peninsula, wich is very cheap and friendly. You can see yachts and motorboats in the water and be calmed while the locals play sandball near you. This was my favourite experience of the beggining of the trip. I 100% recommend if you are corageous and want to explore non touristic places. Oh, I almost forgot to tell THIS IS THE WIDEST SPOT OF SOUTHAMERICA.
At sunset, I recommend you to visit the central and coastal part of Recife city: Parque das Esculturas Francisco Brennand, Malakoff tower, Caixa Cultural (which is very beautiful) and the Plaza do Marco Zero. There are so many more museums and attractions in this area, and it is usually very busy at night, but it's worth taking a walk to see the night life of the inhabitants of Recife and have a drink in the weekend fair (it's very long and culturaly diverse!). The truth is that I got lost in the fair, but right in the Plaza do Arsenal (next to the Malakoff tower) there is a tourist office where they can give you information regarding the city and its surroundings.
Now I will tell you data that I collected and places I did not go: In the adjoining neighborhood to the south, Sao José, is the Plaza da República Santo Antonio, the Mercado de Sao José and the Basilica of Our Lady of Carmen. Further south of Pina, there is the Boa Viagem zone, wich has beaches, fairs, the Church of Our Lady of Boa Viagem, Praia de Piedade and Candeias. If you are going to Recife, I recommend you to mark/highlight these places on Google Maps and download it offline, so even without internet, you can use the GPS to locate yourself in the city and be able to get to these places. This are my highlight spots of Recife in Google Maps.
Before I move on to other cities, I must highlight that Recife has the biggest carnival in Brazil. I wasn't there exactly in those days, but I watched many carnival blocks, wich are street parades of rehearsal before the carnival. THOSE WERE AMAZING. So, if you are in Recife near the carnival, watch out and listen to the samba beats, a block is probably near you!
PORTO DE GALINHAS
I stayed in Maracaipe at the Estrela de Maraca Hostel (which was very good). I decided to stay in the south part of Porto de Galinhas because it was cheaper. Maracaipe is a surfing city with very good vibes to relax. Porto de Galinhas is much more crowded and expensive. The first day I rented a bicycle and ventured north and toured Muro Alto beach, Camboa beach and Pontal do Cupe (my favorite, I was snorkeling for 4 hours straight, LOOK AT THAT PHOTO OMG). I do not recommend getting to Muro Alto by bicycle from Maracaipe, because it is very exhausting, perhaps only going to Praia do Cupe and another day visiting Muro Alto and Camboa on foot its a better idea. On the other hand, I recommend you bring your snorkeling glasses and tube beforehand (maybe buying in Recife is a good option), because those that are sold have expensives prices and poor quality, and beach rentals are even more inaccessible. Remember to use biodegradable sunscreen when you snorkel to avoid contaminating the water and corals! This is one of the most important coral reef in the world!
At sunset or night is the best time to visit Porto de Galinhas, since it's a very busy town with so many street fairs, restaurants and bars. The nightlife is huge there. In Maracaipe you MUST walk on the beach to the Pontal de Maracaipe (south part), where there are barges (jangadas) that offer you a tour to the natural pools and the Seahorse beach, two unmissable activities that were one of the highlights of my travel. There you can snorkel until you get bored and enjoy the marine life at its best!
PRAIA DOS CARNEIROS
To get there I took a tour from Porto de Galinhas to the Chapel of San Benedicto de Dos Carneiros in a barge. They took us through natural pools, sandbanks and mud baths places lost on the coast that were very impressive. I asked for a discount on the tour because I was going to stay there and not going back to Porto de Galinhas. They oferred me a good price, but they never advice me that there's literally NOBODY on that beach, it was so far from where I had booked my AirBnB and I never checked that the loft wasn't right in the beach (my error). I had to hitchhike from a highway near Dos Carneiros to Tamandaré, where I only stayed one night. It is a quite dangerous city and without much to see, it is not very prepared for tourism and it is VERY far from Dos Carneiros. Succesfully, I meet other female backpackers and nice locals took us to the city and warn us about the dangerous places. I would skip Tamandaré, but if you decide to stay, it is not worth staying more than one night, and you will be close to Alagoas region.
I liked this destination a lot, I was able to make several friends at the Tropicalista Hostel, which is quite colorful and only one block from the beach and a delicious food fair. Transportation is pretty good to the most attractive beaches, you can jump on Combis and get pretty much to every beach in this area! I visited the beaches of: Antunes (where there are many activities such as surfing, kayaking, etc.) and Ponta do Mangue (very nice for snorkeling too). There are several more beaches and the buses that lead to the north of Maragogi, but I wasn't able to visiting them all.
The last day I took a tour to the Sao Miguel dos Milagres Ecological Reserve, where we visited Praia do Patacho and my favorite beach (Praia da Sao Miguel). I found out days later that there is a manatee reserve, which left me excited to return!
I arrived in Maceió by Combi bus, and luckily I witnessed the rainiest days IN 40 YEARS. I stayed at the Rocha de Morais Hostel, which was quite small, but clean and with a good kitchen. The streets looked like rivers, but it didn't put me off a bit. They say this is the most dangerous city in Brazil, with the highest homicide rate ... But I felt quite safe WITHOUT knowing this information. I visited museums to escape from the rain: Maceió Metropolitan Cathedral and Natural History Museum. I saw the best sunset of the trip on the Ponta Verde beach (photo below) and I missed getting to know the Maceió Municipal Park, which was closed because it was flooded entirely.
I couldn't go to Praia do Frances, Barra de Sao Miguel and Praia do Gunga because of the rain, so I definitely I should go back hahaha.
SALVADOR DA BAHIA
I took a long bus (now a more comfortable and expensive one) to Salvador de Bahía, which took around 8 hours. I took it at night to save a night of accommodation, but ... I never needed a vest or jacket since I got off the plane, but Brazilians love air conditioning, so I died of cold on the bus. An elderly woman next to me noticed me shaking as I put on all the layers of clothing I had on hand, and she kindly offered me part of her blanket, so we tucked in and slept through the night.
I stayed at the Torre Bahia hostel wich has the best guest, a lady who was my mother for three days and advised me of many things in the city. This was my view from the room (and the most beautiful photo I have ever taken):
In the historic center of Pelourinho I visited the San Francisco de Asis Church, Lacerda Elevator, Model Market, Cruz Caida Monument, Monument to Cidade de Salvador and Monument to Castro Alves. The truth is there's so many history, culture and interesting arquitecture in this city you could spend years visiting it! In the northern part, I visited the Church of Our Lord of Bonfim and Ponta do Humaitá (photo below), some hidden relics that house a street charm. Other interesting place, in a different and more young and party zone, is Barra wich has an amazing beach, fort and lantern it worth the visit!
This are my highlight spots of Salvador on Google Maps.
MORRO DE SAO PAULO
I took the ferry from the São Joaquim terminal to the Bom Despacho terminal, where I took a bus to Atracadouro Bom Jardim, which is where I would take my boat to Morro de Sao Paulo, the final destination of this trip, wich is on the south of Salvador and an amazing island to relax.
I fell in love with this island, I can't recommend it enough. THERE'S NO CARS, NO ROUTES, all you have to do is walk arround and visit the beaches, the bars and restaurants. I stayed in Praia da Gamboa and everyday I walked to the other side of the island to visit the Quarta Praia, where I saw wild monkeys for the second time in my life (the first was in Costa Rica).
I lived the most beautiful experiences on this island, it was the best place to commemorate my backpacking trip. I took so many natural mud baths and I relaxed walking on the beaches, discovering mysterious nooks and crannies. I saw fireflies for the first time in my life and witnessed a religious holiday in honor of Mother Sea. The locals allowed me to get on a boat full of flowers, where they sang prayers and threw flowers into the sea while the boat swirled in the water... It was so magical.
PLEASE GO TO THE MORRO!
I also have 2 snorkeling videos of this trip in YouTube:
Last advice: Walk decisively, even if you are lost walk with a secure step :).
If you want to see this exact same post on my Chile - Bolivia - Perú trip comment down bellow :D!
Safe travels!! 🤓