Brazil // The Northeast //

South from Recife

The coast south of Recife has the best beaches in the state and is all too quickly realizing its tourist potential – the sleepy fishing villages are unlikely to remain so for much longer. Almost all buses take the BR-101 highway, which runs inland through fairly dull scenery, made worse by heavy traffic. The trick is to get a bus that goes along the much more scenic coastal road, the PE-60, or via litoral; they leave from either Avenida Dantas Barreto or the Recife Rodoviária for the string of towns down the coast from Cabo, through Ipojuca, Sirinhaém, Rio Formoso to São José da Coroa Grande. Before São José, where the road starts to run alongside the beach, you may need to catch another local bus to get to the beachside villages themselves. In theory, you could hop from village to village down the coast on local buses, but only with time to spare. Services are infrequent – early morning is the usual departure time – and you might have to sleep on a beach or find somewhere to sling a hammock, as not all the villages have places to stay. As you move south, bays and promontories disappear, and walking along the beaches to the next village is often quicker than waiting for a bus.