Boa Viagem Beach (Recife’s Urban Beach)
Boa Viagem beach is arguably one of the world’s best urban beaches. It runs straight into Pina beach on on end and Piedade beach on the other. The recently renovated beach front has a running track and cycle lanes plus a wide walkway.
Recife gets its name from the reefs that run along the coast. At low tide the reefs produce natural pools that make for safe swimming. Saftey in the water is an issue for some, as Recife does have a small number of shark attacks each year. If you are at all concerned, be sure to bathe where you see the reefs.
The walkway has many thatch roof kiosks selling refreshments and snacks including agua de coco (coconut water), caipirinhas, coxinha (chicken or shrimp filled snacks that are deep fried in breadcrumbs), and empadas, which are small pies of camerão (shrimp ), palmito (heart of palm), frango (chicken) and other fillings.
On the beach, you will find chairs and parasols offered free of charge by operators who make their money selling refreshments and food. A large 700ml beer is usually R$3.50. You keep the empty bottles with you so they can calculate the bill at the end of the day.
If all that is not enough, the beach also has an army of sellers offering other food including caldinho, a soup of beans, camerão (shrimp) or peixe (fish), and fresh, and not so fresh, oysters and camerão. Eating fish and seafood that has been out in the heat for several hours clearly has its risks. If you are too tempted and cannot resist, try and make sure that the ones you buy have been kept in a cool box.
Safer foods to try include queijo na brasa (grilled cheese on a stick that is sprinkled with oregano) . Just make sure it is well grilled. This rule also applies to espitinhos (mini-kebabs) of beef or chicken. Safest of all perhaps are the castanha (cashew nuts), or amendoin (peanuts). You may also like to try the fresh fruit or fruit salad. The strangest option perhaps is boiled quail eggs, usually sold by the people selling nuts.
At night Boa Viagem beach has several street food vendors in addition to the kiosks. It can be pretty lively and interesting to join the crowds but make sure to not hang around too late. When the beach gets quiet after dark (from 10pm onward), you could be a target for opportunistic thieves
While on the subject of safety, it is always advisable to go to the beach without valuables or to keep them out of sight. You are not in great danger and should feel relaxed as long as you do not make yourself a target.
Of course, when on the beach, you should be prepared to haggle with the vendors. It is always a good idea to check the price of beers and other menu items from the operator of the chairs and parasols. Ask the price and the operator’s name in Portuguese. In this way, you will not appear to be a totally naive gringo and will earn his respect.