Nordeste is the Brazil of clichés; colourful, vibrant and always exciting. The 70km (43mi) coastal strip that makes up the seaboard of Pernambuco State is just a small area of this vast region. It's a low lying, fertile plain with a great mix of beaches and reefs. Most of the reefs lie within 200m of the shore and offer powerful waves on offshore days, whilst the beaches are better surfed on the more common onshore days. The main centre is Recife, a place that used to be a good base for surfers, but all this has changed. Following the construction of a huge harbour in Boca de Suape in the early 90's, along with irresponsible coastal development and some serious over-fishing, the local eco-system experienced major changes. These changes were graphically illustrated at the top of the food chain where sharks began to go hungry and unsurprisingly, shark attacks on surfers increased dramatically. In the space of a few years there were six fatal attacks. The authorities, worried about dropping tourist numbers, responded by placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of surfers and banned surfing along a 60km (37mi) stretch of coast! Since1998 the beaches where surfing has been prohibited include the following:
Olinda, one of the most picturesque colonial towns in the country; Praia del Chifre, Recife; the resort area of Boa Viagem including the quality Acaiaca reefs; the hollow reef breaks of Abreus; the reefs of Quebra Mar; the reliable SE facing beach breaks of Paiva and finally Pedra Preta. Although the Gaibu Peninsula is located inside the prohibited zone, the authorities have allowed the locals access to the surf and there have been no attacks so far.