Boa Viagem – Neighborhoods


Boa Viagem is a neighborhood in the privileged southern zone of Recife. It has one of the most visited beaches in Northeastern Brazil, Boa Viagem beach. Thousands regularly gather on its wide sandy beaches that stretch for 5 miles. This is one of the longest stretches of urbanized seafront in Brazil; its coastal reef calms the waves and helps keep the water at 77ºF.

This upper-middle class district acts as the center of the city’s social life. It hosts the 6th biggest shopping center in Brazil — Shopping Recife, with 473 stores. Most of Recife’s best hotels are in Boa Viagem, as well as many outdoor cafes, restaurants, and a lively nightclub scene. Every night, Boa Viagem beach is lit up, allowing bathers to swim at night and attracting many young people. [01]


While it’s one of the city’s richest neighborhoods, it isn’t the most developed (despite the picture above), mainly due to its favelas such as Entra-a-Pulso, Tancredo Neves and Bruno Veloso. Even so, the real estate market in the neighborhood is booming (it has been for a long time) and therefore draws comparisons with Barra da Tijuca in Rio.

Different from Rio, Recife is known for shark attacks, with 57 occurring since 1992, of which 22 were fatal. About 60% of them happened when the tide has come in, on nights with a full or new moon. Danger signs are posted all along the coast in case this particular fact goes unperceived.



The name of the neighborhood Boa Viagem comes from the oceanside church, the Nossa Senhora da Boa Viagem, built around 1743, which also carries the name of the patron saint of sailors and navegators.

The village of Boa Viagem, starting out as a quiet locale for fishermen to work and live, began to gain new momentum in 1858, when the first stretch of the Recife – São Francisco railroad (the second railroad built in Brazil) was opened. The first stretch started in the famous São José neighborhood downtown and was destined for the city of Cabo de Santo Agostinho, just south of Recife. The train made a stop at a station, located in Boa Viagem at the end of the a street named Rua Barão de Souza Leão (see below). Initially, a handcar and then a donkey-driven trolley car took people straight down the street from the railway station to the church plaza (Praça Boa Viagem), a stone’s throw from the beach, motivating many families to spend their summer as well as Christmas. This was the start of the influx of wealthy residents into the neighborhood who began to buy property upon which they built their summer houses.

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(R. Barão de Souza Leão, between the plaza and the station)

The construction of the Avenida Boa Viagem, in 1924, and its proximity to the Guararapes airport (opened in 1958), contributed greatly to the development of the neighborhood. In 1954, Boa Viagem’s first international class hotel, Hotel Boa Viagem (advertised as having “100 apartments facing the sea”) was opened. [02]

The district’s first sky-scrapers, buildings with the names of the Holiday (1957), the Acaiaca (1958) and the California (1960) were built as summer housing. The residential boom was also helped along by the construction of the previously-mentioned Shopping Recife, in 1980.

The Human Development Index for Boa Viagem is the highest in the city, and is constrasted by the lowest in the entire state, the nearby Joana Bezerra Island, which houses the Coque favela. The difference between the two is the same as the difference in HDI between Norway and Gabon, in sub-saharan Africa, yet they exist virtually side-by-side.


2 responses to “Boa Viagem – Neighborhoods

  1. its important this kind of article to understand more about Recife’s history and social context.The poverty in Recife continues to become more multifaceted.good article 🙂

  2. Pingback: Interested in Brazil’s cultural powerhouse? | Eyes On Brazil·

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