Discovered by Amerigo Vespucci (1454-1512), Italian merchant and cartographer in 1503, the archipelago is 4 degrees south of the Equator, around 200 miles off the northeastern coast of Brazil, north east to the city of Natal.
During its 500 years history, Fernando de Noronha has been temporarily occupied by the Dutch (17th. century), French (18th. century) and Portugal took over it definitively from 1737 onwards. It has the biggest fortress system of 18th. century in Brazil.
The island is today one of the most important ecologic sanctuaries in the world, and without doubt, the most beautiful Brazilian marine park. It is also a brilliant example of sustainable tourism, with an almost perfect interaction between man and nature. To help to preserve this balance, tourism is restricted to 420 visitors at a time. Upon arrival, each visitor is charged an Environment Preservation Tax that increases progressively with the length of the visit.
Relative to travelling throughout the rest of Brazil, Fernando de Noronha is quite expensive. Expect to pay twice what you would on the mainland for similar food/accommodations.
Access from the continent is mainly by air. Flight times are 1:40 from Recife (540 km) and 1:10 from Natal (350 km). Flights by Trip Airlines, Varig and TAM operate daily.
Airport of Fernando de Noronha - phone (81) 3619-1311
The archipelago comprises 21 islands. Only the largest of them is inhabited (pop. 2100), and visiting the other islands requires special authorization from the environmental authority, as they are protected areas of a National Maritime Park.
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 $50 - 70 a day depending from whom you rent. The easiest way to get around is by bus (R$ 2.85) 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.
Sancho Bay from above
The full moon rising from the ocean
Dolphins at the Dolphins Bay site
Beaches - Fernando de Noronha is home to the top two beaches in Brazil - Praia do Leão and Baía do Sancho. Both beaches offer crystal clear blue water with areas for swimming and snorkeling. If you decide to visit, it is a good idea to bring along your own provisions as well as an umbrella as there is no shade at Praia de Leão and the shaded areas of Baia do Sancho quickly fill up with other visitors.
Diving - with visibility up to 50 meters, Fernando de Noronha is a Mecca for divers and snorkelers at any level of expertise. It has more than two hundred species of fish, five shark species, sea turtles and dolphins.
Snorkeling - Despite what several of the travel guide books say, snorkeling at Praia da Atalaia is no longer unrestricted. If you wish to visit to see the tide pool, it is recommended that you arrive early as the number of visitors is restricted to 100 per day. The tide pool itself is about 18-24 inches deep but contains a remarkable diversity of animals. Lobsters, octopuses and numerous fish species inhabit the pool and, if you are lucky, maybe a baby shark. The tidal pool is monitored by the government of the island. If you choose to go keep in mind a few things:
Visitors are not allowed to wear suntan lotion as the oils from the lotion will pollute the tidal pool (this is another good reason to go early in the morning when the sun isn't too hot)
You are only allowed to stand or put your knees down in a small sandy area in the middle of the pool. If you are not a confident snorkeler (i.e. capable of floating on the top of the water) then do some practice at another beach before you go. They will remove you from the pool and you could be fined if you violate this rule.
Trekking - there are also many different trails to choose from, but some restrictions apply. Trails in the National Marine Reserve (Parnamar/FN) can only be visited with authorization and with accredited guides. Trails inside the Environment Preservation Area (Apa/FN) have free access.
There is not much to buy that is unique to the island. If you are desperate for a souvenir from the island, you could consider purchasing a souvenir to support the TAMAR/IBAMA project which is focused on turtle conservation.
After a long morning of diving, nothing beats a bowl of açaí with granola and bananas in the port
The island has about 70 inns or pousadas, private residences more or less adapted for this type of service, similar to B&B providing breakfast.
Ares De Noronha
Canto Das Sereias
Pousada Verdes Mares, Alameda dos Cajueiros (Floresta Nova), ☎ 55 81 96631134 (firstname.lastname@example.org). A very nice place to stay. You feel as if you were in your own summer house, with wonderful breakfast and very good reception by the host.