Fernando de Noronha
Fernando de Noronha is an archipelago of volcanic islands 220 miles off the Brazilian coast. Noronha was Brazil’s first Marine Park (70% of the island is protected) and has also been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The beaches are fantastic and largely deserted as only 420 people are permitted on the island at a time. This place has recently become a haven for Brazilian celebrities, and as a result, prices have gone up a bit. If you’re looking for a deserted island experience with a bit of luxury, then Noronha is the place for you. To me, it’s one of the most gorgeous places in South America.
Hostel prices – Accommodation is very expensive on the islands compared to the rest of Brazil as it is considered one of the upscale holiday destinations in the country. You can expect to pay from $25 USD for a night in a dorm and at least double that for a single room.
Budget hotel prices – The very cheapest hotel charges $80 USD per night for a single room. Double rooms start at $100 USD if you’re lucky.
Average cost of food – The cheapest food is the “pay by weight” style you can get at buffets. These normally cost around $7 – 10 USD for a meal. Most basic restaurants charge $15 USD for a simple dish. For something nicer, expect to pay $25 USD without drinks.
Transportation costs – A bus runs from one end of the island to the other for $1.50 USD, while a taxi costs usually somewhere in the region of $7 USD.
Money Saving Tips
Bring cash - ATMs and money changers are virtually non-existent here so you’ll want to bring plenty of Real with you.
Phrasebooks - English isn’t widely spoken on the island so try to bring a phrasebook with you to better understand signs and sales people.
Visit during low season - Noronha is always more expensive than the rest of Brazil, but traveling in the low season between April and November should provide you with cheaper accommodation.
Comida por peso – At lunch time there are plenty of restaurants which offer the “food by weight” deal which allows you to pile your plate high for very little money.
Top Things to See and Do
Projeto Tamar – Projeto Tamar is a Brazilian environmental organization, and they have a base on the island centered around turtle conservation. The center is worth a visit to learn more about how the turtles are endangered and what is being done to protect them. During hatching season, you can watch newly hatched turtles scramble towards the sea for the first time.
Horseback riding – For about $17 USD per hour you can go horseback riding around the island. You’ll cross beaches, trails, and many of the islands back roads.
Go diving – With year round warm water and excellent visibility, Fernando de Noronha is a scuba diver’s paradise and considered to be one of the best diving areas in South America. The dives range from 80 to 130 feet in depth. There are three easily accessible shipwrecks as well as dolphins, turtles, and other marine life.
Atalaia Beach – When the tide goes out at Atalaia Beach, little water pools are left between the reefs that form natural aquariums. Fish tend to get stuck in these pools until the tide comes back in so this is a great opportunity to get up close and personal with marine life.
Dolphin watching – For the best dolphin watching, head to the aptly named Bay of Dolphins. This area is part of the National Marine Park, so the only way you’ll be able to get here is on a path along the cliff’s edge. Arrive in the morning around 6am for the best chances of seeing dolphins in the bay.
Surfing – Noronha is known as the Brazilian Hawaii so you can assume the surf here is excellent. Between December and March are the prime surfing months on Fernando de Noronha. The waves get pretty rough so advanced surfers will enjoy the challenge.
Enjoy the beach – It’d be pretty hard to miss the beaches on Noronha given that they are certainly what draws many people to the island. Baía do Sancho is one of the country’s prettiest beaches. Accessible only by climbing down a 100 foot cliff equipped with the aid of a few iron ladders, the beach rewards you with red tinged sand and crystal clear water.
Dune buggies – One of the most fun ways to explore the island is to rent a dune buggy. It costs around $60 USD for the day and gives you the chance to check out all the secluded parts of the island that lie off the beaten track.
Hiking – Hiking is extremely popular, and there are plenty of deserted beaches between the cliffs, caves, and hills that are completely inaccessible unless you’ve got your hiking books on and a healthy sense of adventure. Within the marine park, it’s required that you have a tour guide with you.
Forte dos Remedios – This fortress was built in the 18th century by the Portuguese as a defense point. Today, it is an awesome place to check out the sunset.
The Historical Trail – Despite being an ecotourism hotspot today, Noronha was once an island set up as a military base. There are many historical sites to see along a single trail that begins on Vila dos Remedios.