Recife is a captivating Brazilian city with a vivid character all of its own. It hosts a real mix of modern high rise building and colonial architecture referring back to the plantation boom which brought so many African and Amazonian indian immigrants to the city, all of whom have left their cultural mark and continue to do so.Nowadays there has been a real artisitic revival with traditional music and dance featuring in a modern, slightly gritty incarnation. Just up the road is Olinda, where cobbled streets and baroque architecture have enchanted visitors for many years.
The only populated island in a protected volcanic archipelago way out in the Atlantic Ocean, Fernando de Noronha is almost off the map. But those who go there (and numbers are restricted), especially divers and surfers, are well rewarded. Craggy cliffs jacketed in close scrubby vegetation close in on gorgeous little bays of sugary sand, and the waters here, warm year-round, are sapphire-clear. Much of the area is designated a marine park, for good reason: sharks, dolphins, turtles and stingrays and a multitude of fish species thrive there. There are no luxury facilities here: it’s a dream destination for lovers of nature, especially the undersea world.