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 so 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.
- Average Cost of Food: The cheapest food is the “pay by weight” style food you can get at buffets. These normally cost around $7 – 10 dollars for a meal. Most basic restaurants charge $15 USD for a simple meal. For something nicer, expect to pay $25 USD not including 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.
Top Things to 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, ou can watch newly hatched turtles scramble towards the sea for the first time.
- Horseback riding – For $17 USD per hour you can go horseback riding around the island. You’ll cross the 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 is considered to be one of the best diving areas in South America. The dives range from 25 to 40 meters 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 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 to some marine life.
- Dolphin watching – For the best in 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. Come in the morning around 6am as this is when you’re likely to see dolphins in the bay.
- Surfing – Noronha is known as the Brazilian Hawaii so it follows that the surf here is excellent. December to 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 most activities are centered around them and they are certainly what draws many people to the island. One of Brazil’s prettiest beaches is here, Baía do Sancho. Accessible only by climbing down a 30 meter cliff face 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 cliffs, caves and hills that are completely inaccessible other than if you’ve got your hiking books on and have a 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.
- 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 of April to November should provide you with cheaper accommodation.
- Comida por peso - At lunch time there are plenty of restaurants which offer a “food by weight” deal which works out quite cheap and allows you to pile your plate high for very little money.