Brazil’s Fernando de Noronha has a reputation of being both an eco-wonderland and a beach-lovers’ paradise. When visiting, expect the most spectacular beaches in all of Brazil, along with warm emerald waters teeming with playful dolphins and turtles. It seems like Mother Nature strategically planned every detail here. The shades of turquoise in the water, the whimsical shape of the mountains, and the bay of tranquil waters that welcomes marine life combine to make a picture-perfect destination.
Planning a trip to Fernando de Noronha
The archipelago comprises of 21 islands, 354km offshore from the Brazilian coast. Only the largest of the islands is inhabited with a few thousand people, and visiting the other islands requires special authorization from the environmental authority, as they are protected areas of a National Maritime Park.
The marine and coastal environment is well preserved, thanks largely to the Fernando de Noronha Marine National Park and conservation projects based there. It’s a fiercely protected eco-wonderland, favoured by naturalists and marine biologists.
For enjoying the natural attractions and experiencing a little bit of colonial history a trip to Noronha requires a few days at least. There are countless activities and tour options to cater to different tastes, and they all allow travellers to submerge themselves in the natural beauty of the islands.
Prices here can be quite high due to the cost of transporting goods from the mainland, but as a guaranteed highlight of any trip to Brazil, Fernando de Noronha is well worth the expense.
It has amazing beaches
Fernando de Noronha is home to the top two beaches in Brazil – Praia do Leão and Baía do Sancho. These beaches have crystal clear water with areas for swimming and snorkeling, with the life above and below sea being the main attraction of the island. Sea turtles, dolphins, albatross and many other species can be spotted around these pristine beaches.
There’s plenty to do
Although Noronha used to be the domain of regulated package tours, it’s now easy for independent travelers to visit. Give yourself plenty of time because it’s a wonderful place for doing things based both in water and on land. Recreational activities include diving, surfing, snorkeling, hiking, and horseback riding. Be sure to dine in one of the many great restaurants on the island, and enjoy the sunset with a cocktail in hand.
Snorkelling in Fernando de Noronha is fantastic
Despite what several travel guide books say, snorkeling at Praia da Atalaia is no longer unrestricted, but you’ll have to register at the ICMbio, near the Projeto Tamar. The pool can only be visited at low tide, and the number of visitors is restricted to 100 per day.
The tide pool itself is about 18-24 inches deep but has plenty to look at. Lobsters, octopi, and numerous fish species inhabit the pool, along with the possibility of meeting a friendly shark or two. The tidal pool is monitored by the government of the island, and rules apply. Visitors are not allowed to wear suntan lotion as the oils from the lotion can pollute the tidal pool, and snorkeling is limited to 25 minutes at a time.
It’s easy to get around
There is one road that circles the main island and connects many of its attractions. It is possible to rent a car or a buggy for about US $50 – 70 a day or a motorbike for $35 – 40 a day The easiest way to get around is by bus which goes back and forth along the main road from the Port on one end of the island to Praia de Sueste on the other.
Another option is to hitchhike as almost all the local people and sometimes the odd taxi or dive truck will be happy to pick you up and give you a ride if you are going in their direction. If you choose to hitchhike, try and learn at least some Portuguese so you can tell them where you want to go and say thank you at the end of the ride.
When to go
The climate is tropical with two well-defined seasons for rainfall and temperature. The dry/high season is from September to March, and the rainy/low season is from April to August. Accommodation prices rise in the high season, which is the best time to go, but all year round the islands remain warm and beautiful.
How to get there and where to stay
The local population and travellers can get to Noronha by plane or cruise from Recife (545 km) or by plane from Natal (360 km). A small environmental preservation fee is charged from tourists upon arrival by Ibama, the Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources.
This hotel offers a 360-degree view of one of Fernando de Noronha’s most beautiful sights – the Sueste Bay. Everything at Pousada Maravilha frames the view: the vanishing pool, the wide balconies in each of the eight rooms which have their own hot tubs and hammocks, and the dining area which houses one of Noronha’s best restaurants.
When night falls, guests can enjoy the indulgences of the bungalows and apartments, like bed sheets of Egyptian cotton and cable TV with over 100 channels. A charming multi-brand boutique rounds out the hotel’s offerings. Among the hotel’s exclusive services are the new day spa, and a number of excursions tailored to meet the personal needs of guests who wish to experience Noronha the way the island deserves. Stay from $650 USD per night. Visit Pousada Maravilha for more information.
Pousada Zé Maria
This hotel mixes comfort and elegance with simplicity. To fit in with the ecologically sustainable surroundings this hotel was constructed without cutting a single tree. Enjoy accommodation in beautiful surroundings and soak up the sun by the pool. Stay here from $290 per night. For more information click here Pousada Zé Maria