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  • Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

    Fernando de Noronha Info and Miniguide

    Fernando de Noronha enchanted Europe in 1503 when Américo Vespucio referred to it as a "paradisiacal place" in the middle of Atlantic Ocean. The small archipelago was declared a Marine National Park in 1988, offering a combination of crystal-clear water, fascinating wildlife, diverse marine life which includes multicolored fish, turtles, sharks and whales, and stunning beaches. Noronha hosts 9 out of the top 10 most beautiful beaches in Brazil. The Island of Fernando de Noronha not only is also a world-class diving paradise but also offers some of Brazil's best surfing from mid December to March.

    Read More about Fernando de Noronha

    Fernando de Noronha

    Fernando de Noronha is an archipelago formed by a spectacular group of twenty one islets and islands that belong to the Brazilian state of Pernambuco. The islands are 220 miles from the Brazilian coast and are accessible by cruise or plane. The Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources levy a small preservation fee or conservation tax on tourists upon arrival in Noronha. The islands are well preserved and are home to the most beautiful beaches and an abundance of marine life.

    The Brazilian Air Force maintains a base on the islands. Tourists are restricted to 420 at a time. The permit fee increases according to the length of stay. The archipelago is ideal for diving and snorkeling since its waters are filled with over two hundred species of fish, manta rays, sea turtles, moray eels, sharks, goliath groupers and dolphins among others, with visibility up to 50 meters or more. The largest sea bird breeding colonies in the South Atlantic is on the island. Fernando de Noronha is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and three of its beaches; Sancho, Porcos and Leão are rated among the top beaches in Brazil.

    History of Fernando de Noronha

    An Italian merchant, Amerigo Vespucci discovered the archipelago in 1503. The English invaded the islands in 1534 who later gave way to the French in 1556 whose occupation of the islands lasted until 1612. The Dutch took over in 1628 but were quickly overpowered by the Portuguese military led by Rui Calaza Borges. Reoccupation by the Dutch in 1635 made the islands a hospital for the troops who occupied northeast Brazil.

    The Portuguese waited twenty long years to take back the islands in 1654. The islands were later abandoned, when the French East Indies Company took over the island in 1736 and renamed it Isle Dauphine. The Portuguese were back in 1737 and built ten forts as part of their defense system, the largest fort being Nossa Senhora dos Remédios de Fernando de Noronha. Each fort was connected by a network of stone roads. Charles Darwin visited the archipelago on an expedition that is recorded in his journal, The Voyage of the Beagle. The island has also served as a prison camp during the 18th century and later became a political prison until it was closed in 1957.

    How To Get There

    By Air

    There are daily flights to the archipelago to and from Recife and Natal.

    By Water

    Boats ply from Natal and Recife. During the season many cruise liners come in from Fortaleza, Natal and Recife and offer packages ranging from 4-6 days.

    Noronha's Main Tourist Attractions


    Fernando de Noronha is an eco-wonderland and a beach lover’s paradise. Two of Brazil’s top beaches, Praia do Leão and Baía do Sancho are on these islands. The clear blue waters offer great visibility, which is ideal for diving and snorkeling. Make sure you carry an umbrella as the shady spots fill up fast. Baia do Sueste is another beach that attracts many snorkelers. Noronha has over 20 beautiful beaches with five having restricted access for conservation purposes. Among the other popular beaches are Conceicao, Quixaba, Cachorro and Cacimba do Padre, to name a few. There are many natural pools formed by water trapped along the reefs. These pools fill up with fish and are an ideal place to take the children.

    Santo Antonio Port bay

    The bay is the starting point for local tours and cruises to Recife. The small beach is adjacent to the main port and offers a great view of the sun setting.

    Dolphins Bay – Enseada Dos Golfinhos

    The bay is home to over a thousand dolphins that return at sunset after a day out at sea in search of food. An early morning trip to the bay is the best time to get up close to these friendly animals.

    Diving and Snorkeling

    Fernando de Noronha is a paradise for divers and snorkelers with underwater visibility up to 50 meters or more. Over two hundred species of fish, sea turtles, dolphins, moray eels, five species of sharks, are just a few marine animals that divers and snorkelers get to see. For diving tours, you could contact:

    Atlantis Divers on 84 3206 8841

    Noronha Divers on 19 3808 5265

    Snorkeling at Praia de Atalaia is recommended. The tide pool fills up with a variety of marine life including lobsters, octopuses and a variety of fish. Only 100 visitors are allowed per day, so you need to arrive early. The government authorities strictly monitor the pool. Make sure you do not use any sunscreen lotion or any other oils that could pollute the tidal pool. Practice your snorkeling skills at another beach prior to coming to Praia de Atalaia or else you may be asked to refrain from snorkeling.

    Boat Tours

    A half-day boat trip around the islands is a great way to get introduced to the place. These tours stop for a 40-minute snorkeling session at Baia do Sancho. You will also get to see rock formations that resemble various creatures including an Egyptian mummy, dog and King Kong. Look carefully and you will get a fleeting glance at barracuda, flying fish and turtles. Dolphins turn up in thousands early in the morning as they head out to sea for the day and you will be lucky to see them from your boat.


    For the adventurous, there are guided trails in the National Marine Reserve that can undertaken after due permission from the authorities. The Environment Preservation Area also allows trekking, where you can have free access to the area.

    IBAMA Lectures

    The Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources IBAMA, hold nightly lectures, which is a great opportunity to learn all about marine life and ecology of the region.


    The forts on the island offer a stunning view of the region. You can take a trip to these forts in a dune buggy, which can be rented for about US $50 – 70 a day. Buses ply along the main road from the Port to Praia de Sueste on the other end of the island.

    Villa dos Remedios

    Only two villages exist in Noronha, Villa dos Remedios and Vila do Trinta. You can go on a walking tour of Villa dos Remedios and visit the museum, fort and church in the village.

    Sueste Bay or Turtle Bay

    This is a protected area for breeding sea turtle. You can snorkel along with them from June through December, while the other half of the year you can see them breeding at Sueste Bay.

    Climate in Fernando de Noronha

    Noronha experiences a mild, equatorial climate with gentle breeze flowing across the islands throughout the year. This makes it an ideal place to visit any time of the year. The dry season is from August to April, with the islands experiencing rain between April and July. December through February brings about the best waves for surfing.

    Practical Information about Fernando de Noronha

    Carry lightweight casual clothes like shorts and sleeveless shirts. Don’t forget the most important item, your swimsuit. You may spend a good deal of your time walking, so a pair of walking shoes is a must. Plenty of sun protection is needed in the form of a hat with brim.

    English is limited, so be prepared to use sign language.

    Don’t expect anything to be very cheap, since the archipelago is in a remote location.

    Getting around the island is easy in a dune buggy which can be rented for around US$ 50 per day.

    Mopeds and bikes are also available on rent.

    One gas station is available near the marina which is at the northern end of the island.

    Credit cards are accepted at some places, however, only Visa and Master Card. There are no facilities for American Express and Diner's Club cardholders.

    An ATM is available at the airport; therefore, it is advisable to remove Brazilian Reais with your debit card on your arrival.

    Banco Real has a branch in the center of the town.

    Internet kiosks can be found at several restaurants, most Pousadas have Internet connections.

    Tipping 10% of your bill at restaurant is recommended.

    Voltage on the island is 220V. It is advisable to carry adapters since there are no 3-pin outlets.

    Pick up an island map at the airport so that you can find your way around easily.

    There are no large hotels on the island. The largest is within the old US military barracks that can accommodate up to 100 persons.

    Most Pousadas have 3 – 5 rooms and serve breakfast.

    Noronha's Specialties

    What is special about Fernando de Noronha is the seriousness of the efforts to conserve the area and the beauty that is all around. In Noronha you have a chance to be purely in touch with the nature, that is of high priority for habitants and the government to maintain it as is. There is not much to do by way of shopping except for some t-shirts and hats. Handicrafts are almost non-existent. Several small shops sell handicrafts and local souvenirs near the village of Villa dos Remedios and at Porto, the port.

    Food in Fernando de Noronha

    Several restaurants on the island are run as a local family business. Many stores are within their own homes. The beaches are lined with restaurants while some are run at the Pousadas. Seafood in Fernando de Noronha is served fresh and it is of very good quality, serving great seafood dishes is the Ekologiku’s. Another great option when in Noronha, is to try the regional food, the food in Noronha is similar to its mainland, Pernambuco. Noronha dishes up some dishes like, moqueca, dobradinha and buchada.

    Accommodation in Fernando de Noronha

    Pousadas are the main accommodation options available on the island, there are about 70 to choose from, and they are categorized in 1 dolphin, being the more basic type, 2 dolphins offer a bit more and 3 dolphins are the luxurious and more expensive ones. Pousada Ze Maria has 6 rooms, 13 bungalows, which are air-conditioned and includes a restaurant, bar and pool. The Pousada Maravilha Inn consists of 5 bungalows and 3 rooms, each with A/C, restaurant, bar, pool.

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