Porto de Galinhas is all about the sea and the best way to explore the region is by boat.
Tip: Inquire about the tides upon arrival as many tours are timed according to the tide tables.
Boat Tours -- One of the best ways to see the region is by boat, and Cavalo Marinho (tel. 081/3552-2180 or 8811-7393, www.catamaracavalomarinho.com.br) offers daily catamaran tours to offshore islands and isolated beaches such as Ilha de Santo Aleixo and Praia dos Carneiros. Both are to the south of Porto de Galinhas and offer plenty of nice scenery, swimming, and snorkeling (R$90 per person, children 11 and under, R$60).
Diving -- Though most people opt for tide-pool snorkeling, a number of dive sites are in the surrounding area. Contact Porto Point, Praça Av. Beira Mar s/n (tel. 081/3552-1111), for charters. Expect to pay R$90 to R$150, including gear and two dives. Beginners can do an introductory lesson and dive for R$110. No credit cards.
Snorkeling -- The coast just off Porto de Galinhas is lined with coral reefs. At low tide they form natural pools that trap hundreds of tropical fish. With a mask and snorkel you just hop in and check out what's doing. The water is warm year-round (24°C-28°C/75°F-82°F) and the pools are never more than a few meters deep. Most pools are close enough that you could swim out, but another fun way of getting close is by taking a jangada. These one-sail fishing rafts are the boat of choice for local fishermen. For R$8 per person, local sailors will take you out to the best pools, and provide you with a mask, snorkel, and some bread to lure in the fish. Check the tide tables at your hotel for low tide; early morning is best if you want to avoid crowds.
If you want to play in the water by yourself, you can rent a mask/snorkel combo for R$15 per day at Porto Point, Av. Beira Mar s/n (tel. 081/3552-1111). They also offer tours to the natural pools in the daytime (R$30) or at night (R$40), including equipment and guide.