Updated: Sep 29, 2022
Go for the ecotourism, unique ecosystem, national park, hiking, swimming, beaches, boating, diving and snorkeling.
Full disclosure, this is one place in Brazil that I have not visited; but always wanted to.
Fernando de Noronha is a volcanic archipelago located on the Atlantic Ocean, about 360 km (225 mi) from the city of Natal (RN) and 545 km (340 mi) from the city of Recife (PE). It comprises 21 islands, but only one, with an area of about 18 sq-km (7 sq-mi), is inhabited. In 1988, the Brazilian government has proclaimed it (or 70% of it) a Marine National Park and in 2001 it has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site because of its importance as a feeding ground for tuna, sharks, turtles, and marine mammals.
The story of Fernando de Noronha is as old as the story of Brazil. The most credible version of its discovery is based on written records of that a Portuguese expedition, organized and financed by a private commercial consortium headed by the Lisbon merchant Fernão de Loronha reached the island in 1503. The island was also visited by pirates, being Bartholomew Robert (or "Black Bart") the most famous one. In 1719, he spent about 9 weeks in the island before heading off in search of Portuguese ships in the West Indies. As many remote islands, Fernando de Noronha once hosted a prison. The prison was built in 1897, and between 1938 and 1945, it became a prison for political prisoners, then in 1957 it was closed. Today the island's primary source of income comes from tourism.
All that history aside, the reasons for this archipelago to be in my list (as one of the 13 most fascinating places to visit in Brazil) are much more convincing.
Beaches - Beach bums would like to know that there are 14 beautiful and undeveloped beaches in the main island. One of them, Baía do Sancho (Sancho Bay), has been consistently named the best beach in the world by different sources, including Trip Advisor. Other famous beaches in the island are: Baía dos Porcos, Cacimba do Padre, Bode, Boldró, Sueste, Porto, Cachorro, Meio, Conceição and Leão.
Aquatic Life - Fernando de Noronha is also known as the best place to scuba dive and snorkel in Brazil. It is famous for the largest population of dolphins in the world, as well as, its effective turtle protection program. Besides that, there is a great variety of fish, corals and sharks to be observed. The waters there are so transparent that visibility often reaches 50 meters (165 ft).
Hiking Trails - There is a great number of trails in the island, some of them require reservation. Most of the trails that do not require reservation are easy and short (varying from a couple hundred yards to around 3/4 of a mile). Here are a few examples of easy trails:
Baía dos Porcos: 170 yards
Leão - 230 yards
Sancho to Mirante Dois Irmãos: 282 yards
Vor: 300 yards
Sancho: 320m yards
Forte S. J. do Sueste: 560 yards
Golfinho: 942 yards
Golfinho to Sancho: 0.7 miles
Fernando de Noronha is one of the most expensive places to visit in Brazil. One reason for that is the high cost involved to supply the island with goods from the continent. The other reason is the intent to keep the number of visitors around 675 per day, so that the local infrastructure does not collapse and that the ecosystem is maintained protected and preserved. As you plan your visit to Fernando de Noronha expect to pay two distinct fees; the TPA (Environment Protection Tax) and the National Park Fee. The TPA is charged on a daily basis and will cost around $20 USD; the National Park fee for a 10-day stay will cost around $65 USD.
The best way to get to Fernando de Noronha is by taking a flight of around 2 hours from Recife or Natal. A less traditional way to visit the island is by looking for available sailboat charters. The dry season in the island is typically from August to February, and from September to October the water tend to be calmer. Unless you are a party guy/girl, avoid visiting the island during New Year's Eve and Carnaval (Carnival), that is when prices will really hike-up and you may face shortages of pretty much everything in the island.
Once you are in the island, you will be able to move round by foot, bus, taxi or boats. Take your time and enjoy your stay. There is much to see but running around defeats the purpose of being in such a paradisiac location, so plan to stay at least 5 days.
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