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'The Coral Coast'

What makes this trip special?

Modern seaside city

Modern seaside city

Recife

Recife is the second largest city in the Northeast and Brazil's oldest capital, founded by the Portuguese in 1537. Its unusual coastal setting, spread over and around small islands and bridges has given it the nickname of the Brazilian 'Venice'.

Colourful, historic colonial town

Colourful, historic colonial town

Olinda

Olinda is a charming, picturesque colonial town and UNESCO world heritage site set atop a hillside overlooking the sea teeming with colourfully painted houses, convents, churches and galleries

Popular beach with excellent snorkelling

Popular beach with excellent snorkelling

Porto de Galinhas

Beautiful white sand beaches backed by tall palms set around a popular lively village - now almost a little town. Here at low tide tide pools or “piscinas naturais” form just off shore in the coral reefs which are excellent for snorkelling.

The Brazilian "Caribbean"

The Brazilian "Caribbean"

Maragogi

Maragogi is known as the Brazilian "Caribbean" due to its paradisiacal palm-backed, sandy beaches with crystal clear, calm seas. The sandbars and coral reefs of the Galés marine reserve, 6km offshore, are teeming with marine life.

Tranquil beach bliss

Tranquil beach bliss

Sao Miguel dos Milagres

Off the main tourist grid, Sao Miguel dos Milagres is a serene place with gorgeous unspoilt beaches surrounded by coconut palms and tranquil guesthouses set in tropical grounds.

Idyllic, fashionable beachside village

Idyllic, fashionable beachside village

Carneiros Beach

Palm-fringed stretch of white sand beach with calm waters set in a popular, quietly fashionable beachside village just 2hrs south of Recife.

Itinerary map for Brazil 'The Coral Coast' holiday

Itinerary

  • Day      Overnight
  • 1 Olinda
  • 2 Olinda
  • 3 Olinda
  • 4 Porto do Galinhas
  • 5 Porto do Galinhas
  • 6 Maragogi
  • 7 Maragogi
  • 8 Sao Miguel dos Milagres
  • 9 Sao Miguel dos Milagres
  • 10 Sao Miguel dos Milagres
  • 11 Sao Miguel dos Milagres
  • 12 Carneiros Beach
  • 13 Carneiros Beach
  • For the detail of each day click the ‘Day-by-day’ tab above.

Day-by-day itinerary for 'The Coral Coast'

DAY 1

Olinda and Recife

You are met on arrival at Recife airport and transferred to Olinda, one of Brazil's most charming and picturesque colonial towns, with a relaxed and arty atmosphere. Colourful colonial houses and white-washed baroque churches line its steep, narrow cobbled streets which cascade down a hillside strewn with coconut palms. Stay for the next 3 nights at a characterful pousada in the heart of the historical centre.

DAY 2
B

This morning you are met at your hotel by an English-speaking local guide for a half-day private walking tour to introduce you to Olinda and life in colonial Brazil. You'll wander the old town, soaking up the atmosphere and stopping to visit sights such as the Mosteiro de São Bento, built in 1582 and lavishly decorated with gold and baroque woodcarvings. You will also see three other major churches of the colonial period: the Igreja da Sé (the oldest parish church in the Northeast), Igreja Nossa Senhora da Graça (the old royal Jesuit college), and the Convento do São Francisco (a convent, a chapel and a church), and the colonial slave market - through whose trade Olinda's ecclesiastical splendours were largely funded. After this introduction you have the rest of the day free to relax at your pousada or to explore Olinda some more by yourself - there is plenty more to see. Olinda is a great place to live as well as visit. Today it is a hub for the visual arts, and several of Brazil's leading painters and sculptors have come to live here. Sometimes their ateliers are open to the public, or you can see their work in small galleries around the town. Some say that Olinda's carnival is the most authentic in Brazil: it is certainly lively, easy-going and great fun, and Olinda's many cafes and bars help keep the mood going for the rest of the year.

DAY 3
BL

This morning you explore Recife: Olinda's expansive big brother - modern Brazil with all its thrusting, bustling, concrete-and-glass confidence. Recife is the capital of Pernambuco state, with more than 3 million inhabitants. The city is spread over and around small islands and 50 bridges at the point where the Beberibe and Capibaribe rivers meet. All that water has inevitably led to Recife being given the soubriquet of 'Brazil's Venice'. You are collected from your hotel in Olinda by your English-speaking guide for your private tour, which starts with a drive along the ultra-modern seafront of Recife's Boa Viagem area and then proceeds to Rua do Bom Jesus in Old Recife. This district was founded by the Dutch, who occupied Recife from 1630 to 1654 and is evident in the tall, narrow four-storey houses that resemble those of Amsterdam. The street was formerly named Jews' Street, as it was the site of the first synagogue to be built in the Americas, which is now a Jewish museum. You will also visit the Praça da República, surrounded by fine buildings: the Law Courts, the Governor's Place and the Santa Isabel Theatre. There is also the Capela Dourada (Golden Chapel), a gilt-clad church that contains a small sacred art museum with some fine pieces of gold and silverwork. You stop for a buffet lunch at Parraxax, a restaurant specialising in regional dishes. Later you pause to visit the Casa de Cultura, a former prison whose cells are now converted into craft shops, and to visit to the exotic world of Recifian artist Francisco Brennand, one of Brazil's most renowned ceramic artists. Brennand's sensuous, natural style - often with strong allusions to mythological ideas - was influenced by Picasso, Miró, Léger and Gaudi from Brennand's time in Paris and Spain in the early 1950s. He returned to transform his wealthy family's disused tile factory into a workshop and gallery to create and show a profusion of sculptural ceramics, tiles and paintings. The attractive gardens that surround the property were designed by Brazil's pre-eminent landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx.

DAY 4
B

Drive to Porto de Galinhas

Today it's time to start your road movie. Your hire car will be delivered to your hotel in Olinda and when you are ready you set off driving down the Coral Coast to Porto de Galinhas (82km), passing mostly through sugar cane fields as you put the city behind you. Porto de Galinhas is a popular beach destination south of Recife, with beautiful long white sand beaches around lively village - now almost a little town. Beach hotels and small resorts line the lovely beach. You stay in a small, characterful beachfront posada for two nights.

DAY 5
B

A free day at the beach. At low tide the picture-postcard image of Porto de Galinhas appears - crystal clear aquamarine tide pools or "piscinas naturais", which form just off shore in the coral reefs. "Jangadas" or regional fishing rafts ferry visitors from the town's waterfront to and from the pools, which fill with plentiful marine life trapped by the tide - good for snorkelling. Tropical fish will take food from your hand.

DAY 6
BD

Maragogi

Drive down the coast road to Maragogi (103km). Here you stay for two nights on a half board basis at a nicely hip mid-range beach pousada run by a young Dutch/Brazilian couple who make this one of our favourite places in the area. The garden is scattered with bean bags and daybeds and leads down on to the beach. Here you can sit after dinner with a glass of wine and stargaze contentedly. Dinner is to a fixed menu, often adventurously chosen and occasionally brilliantly prepared.

DAY 7
BD

Free day based in Maragogi either relaxing in the garden or at the beach. You could also take a boat trip to sheltered natural pools in the coral reef 6km offshore, or take a walk in the Atlantic forest in the hills behind the village. Buggy tours at low tide along local beaches can also be arranged locally.

DAY 8
B

Sao Miguel dos Milagres

We're not sure you'll want to leave Maragogi, but there is even better to come. Today's drive is a short 40km adventure, continuing beyond the tarmac road south through Japaratinga to the Rio Manguaba. Here a small ferry plies the river all day carrying just 4 cars at a time (even so, it's not often full). Once on the other shore (and now in Alagoas state) you are back on a paved road for a short drive through the sleepy country villages of Laje, Porto da Rua and Toque, before you reach Sao Miguel dos Milagres. From the village you turn towards the ocean, along a sandy track path through stands of palm trees to reach your lodge - an off-road experience that's best undertaken in daylight. Stay here for 4 nights.

DAY 9
B

Three days relaxing by the hotel's pool or on the beach. Visits to a local manatee reserve can be arranged locally.

DAY 10
B

Relaxing by the hotel's pool or on the beach

DAY 11
B

Relaxing by the hotel's pool or on the beach

DAY 12
B

Carneiros Beach

Today you retrace your journey (101km) stopping for a final couple of nights at the idyllic palm-fringed Carneiros Beach, a quietly fashionable beachside village of a few dusty streets, 30 minutes south of Porto de Galinhas. At one end of Carneiros' long white sand beach is Carneiros Point, at the mouth of the Rio Formoso, where there is a handful of well-to-do private beach houses and a couple of simple but lively open-air beach restaurants for day-trippers arriving by boat from Porto de Galinhas. You stay at a small beachfront hotel around a nice pool, about a kilometre along from the point. A short lawn dotted palm trees, well-supplied with hammocks and loungers, leads onto the beach itself. There is a simple restaurant in the hotel for dinner, or you may prefer to hop in the car to visit an excellent fish restaurant behind Carneiros Point.

DAY 13
B

Relaxing on Carneiros beach

DAY 14
B

Back to Recife for your flight home

Guide prices for 'The Coral Coast'

options based on all year low season mid season high season peak season other season
Guide price 2 people sharing
Prices are per person and include:
  • all accommodation
  • all land transport in Brazil including hire car with full insurance from days 4 to 14
  • selfdrive information package (itinerary and maps)
  • all meals as indicated: B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner,
  • tours as described with an English speaking local guide
Prices do not include:
  • international flights
  • domestic flights
  • airport and departure taxes
  • travel insurance
  • items of a personal nature such as drinks, tips, laundry, etc
  • car-hire: additional driver insurance
  • car-hire: refundable deposit

Customer reviews for 'The Coral Coast'

Recent reviews are shown here from holidays based on this initial design. In each case the itinerary may have been modified (a little or a lot) to suit the individual traveller.

Average

Seasonal information for 'The Coral Coast'

Along this route in January

Day Location Max °C Monthly rainfall
1 Olinda 30°C rainfall 67mm
2 Olinda 30°C rainfall 67mm
3 Olinda 30°C rainfall 67mm
4 Porto do Galinhas 30°C rainfall 63mm
5 Porto do Galinhas 30°C rainfall 63mm
6 Maragogi 29°C rainfall 70mm
7 Maragogi 29°C rainfall 70mm
8 Sao Miguel dos Milagres 30°C rainfall 63mm
9 Sao Miguel dos Milagres 30°C rainfall 63mm
10 Sao Miguel dos Milagres 30°C rainfall 63mm
11 Sao Miguel dos Milagres 30°C rainfall 63mm
12 Carneiros Beach 29°C rainfall 81mm
13 Carneiros Beach 29°C rainfall 81mm

Typical weather for January

rainchart

Max °C figures are the average daily maximum temperatures for the month. Rainfall is the average precipitation for the month.

Hotels for 'The Coral Coast'