Itamaracá (40 km North of Recife)
Ilha de Itamarcá is both beautiful and historic. The island itself is accessed from the mainland, and it is on the mainland that Forte Orange (Orange Fort) can be found.
Itamaracá used to be a very place for the middle class of Recife to build their beach homes; but for many years the infrastructure in the area was poor, and it became less popular. The infrastructure has been improved recently and it may regain its former popularity. Until it does, it can be enjoyed with relative peace and calm (except for the pushy food vendors and parking attendants).
In addition to the beach and the fort, there is one other, more unusual, attraction. Itamaracá is home to a sanctuary and research center for the protection of Peixe Boi, otherwise known as sea cows or Manati. For the public there is not a lot to see, but its a nice quick stop and children usually appreciate it.
It can be reached by public transport, but access is far better by car or guided tour.