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I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now. About 10 years ago, I visited one of the most beautiful islands in the world, the Fernando de Noronha Archipelago in Brazil. It’s true it’s been a while, but I still have vivid memories from that trip. Today I’m sharing the highlights of the island, and I hope you’ll be adding this destination to your “places to visit” list!
A few basics to get started: Fernando de Noronha is a 21-island archipelago, 220 miles offshore from the Brazilian coast. They have a small airport, with daily flights to and from Recife and Natal. The main island is only 7 square miles, and a population of 3,000 people. Since it’s such a small island, the locals have a lot of regulations to make sure the island remains the paradise it is: only a limited number of tourists can visit the island daily; you pay a fee for each day you stay on the island, and that money goes toward conservation and research funds in the island; there are very few hotels, and the ones they have tend to be expensive, but most of the locals have rooms in their houses they rent out to tourists (I did have to share a bed with my mom when I went, but the room was clean, the breakfast was delicious, and our hosts were very nice people). Upon arrival in the island, all tourists have to attent an intro session where you learn about the island and the rules to follow to help maintain its eco-system. All this work is pretty impressive, and reason why this is probably my favorite destination in Brazil.
I visited Fernando de Noronha with my mom, in July, which is the off-season since it’s “winter” in Brazil (but that up north, it never gets really cold). My first thought when our plane cleared the clouds and started descending towards the island is that I was landing in paradise. The view from the plane is just breathtaking (so get a window seat!). For the rest of this post, I’ll share memories and pictures from the trip (taken by me or my mom, all in film) and share a few of my favorite spots from Fernando de Noronha!
Two Brothers Island is the postcard of Fernando de Noronha. Just do a quick google search, and you’ll be overwhelmed by a similar image from the one I shared above. No surprises, though, it is one of the most breathtaking views in all the island. It was a highly anticipated stop on the tour we did on our last day in the island. We started it on Sancho Bay, where I had to descend on a very narrow staircase encased in rock, where I couldn’t see the bottom of it. No idea if it has changed since then, but that was part of the reason why this area is so beautiful: it’s so hard to access it. After descending the staircase (I have a fear of heights, it was not easy, but this was worth conquering my fear for), we spent some time at Sancho Bay, before heading out to the main attraction: Porcos Bay, where you can view the Two Brothers Island in their best angle. I am trying to think of words to describe how amazing it was to enjoy the beach at this spot, with this fantastic view to admire. The beach was very rocky, which I personally prefer, and with warm water. I’m pretty sure our tour guides let us enjoy this beach for a long time, but I remember it felt like it was not enough. I don’t know if you have the option to explore without tour guides and groups, but if there is, and you have plenty of time, I think it would be an ideal spot to do it.
Atalaia Beach is a top spot on the island for snorkeling. But here’s the catch: you cannot let your foot touch the bottom of the ocean while you are snorkeling! The reason behind it is, and I’m paraphrasing here, to not interfere in any way with the eco-system in that area. Anyway, here’s another confession: I’m scared of fish. So I was pretty nervous about this part of our trip, but since it’s supposed to be one of the cool things to do in Noronha, I went ahead and did it! And it is true, it might have been my best time in the island. I don’t snorkel or scuba dive, so having my head under water while breathing through that tube for a good chunk of time was a new thing for me. And it really helped me be, well, immersed in that place. While under the water, everything was just so quiet and peaceful. You’re just floating in it, and all the colors of all the fish and sea life swimming around you… I’m no poet, but you get the idea. Worth every anxious moment. And here’s the thing, I wasn’t on a “good” place when we went on this trip. So a lot of my memories on the island are very contemplative and a little melancholic, but in a good way.
This is another classic Fernando de Noronha must do, a boat ride to see the Dolphins. The boat ride is fun even without the dolphins, because you get to check out the island from a different point of view from the one you might have before (if you didn’t arrive by boat). But hey, I won’t lie, the dolphins are cool, albeit cliche. And of course nowadays with a digital camera you can actually get a decent picture of a dolphin. With my analog camera, this is the best I got (out of 8?).
This is another of the island’s postcards, the Morro do Pico. That rock formation is a little over 1,000 feet tall, and you can see the two brothers island peeking out in the distance too. I think this is one of the first places we went when we got to the island!
This area is also pretty close to the island’s “downtown” area with restaurants, bars, and nightlife. You can see on the map, the little area marked as Cachorro Beach (Cachorro translates to “dog,” by the way), which is the place where everyone converges at the end of a long day of diving, hiking, swimming, etc. Cachorro Beach is also the hot spot to see the sunset.
Well, those are all the highlights, but I had other pretty images to share from the trip, and some of them I don’t remember exactly where they were taken at, or what you’re looking at in the picture. Film cameras are fun, though!
Disclaimer: it’s been 10 years since I visited Fernando de Noronha, so not all of my information may be correct. The intent of this post is to get you excited about visiting this amazing place. If you have been recently, and would like to help out with details, please feel free to leave a comment below!