If you thought visiting Brazil in summer was all about crowded beaches and hordes of tourists, think again! The tiny island of Fernando de Noronha, 340km off the northeast coast of Brazil is a peaceful gem waiting to be discovered. With the government limiting the number of visitors to 420 people at any one time in order to preserve the pristine environment, you’ll find unspoiled beaches, secluded bays, stunning sunsets and spectacular marine life.
A lot has been said about Fernando de Noronha’s sunsets, as it’s the only place in Brazil where you can see the sun swallowed by the sea. However, what many don’t know is that another phenomenon, just as beautiful, takes place right after it, on the other side of the island… the moon rising! Ask locals for the moon rising time and go to the viewpoint at “Buraco da Raquel” (Raquel’s Hole), the only place to watch this incredible sight. To get there take a bus or a taxi to the Shark`s Museum or Port Santo Antonio, the last stop of the bus line (bus – BRL3.50 / buggy – BRL10.00).
Fernando de Noronha’s pristine waters are a haven for divers and marine enthusiasts. However, if you miss your close encounter with a shark whilst diving, head to “Anpesca” (Noronha’s Fishing Association). Every afternoon just before sunset, fishing boats dock in Anpesca’s pier to clean their catches. You can imagine the agitation! Around the edge of the rocks are lemon sharks, sandpaper sharks, butter rays and other big fish fighting for the leftovers. The sharks sometimes actually run ashore in their frenzy, making for great pictures. Take a bus or a taxi to the Shark`s Museum or Port Santo Antonio (bus – BRL3.50 / buggy – BRL10.00), and try to arrive before 7pm for a closer view.
One of the most sought after trips on Fernando de Noronha is the trail to Baía dos Golfinhos (Dolphins’ Bay). The conventional outing starts at 5am to see the dolphins entering the bay after their long night hunting in the outer sea. However, if you’re not a morning person, don’t worry; the dolphins play in the bay until around noon. You can even go without a guide as the trail is clean and well signposted.
Fernando de Noronha has some great restaurant options, such as Zé Maria Inn’s, Maravilha Inn’s, and Teju-Açú Inn’s. However, there is also a little-divulged restaurant called Palhoça da Colina (‘Hill’s Shanty’). With capacity for only 10 people and only one table and no chairs, this unknown hideaway is a local favourite, open by appointment only. Customers are invited to sit on cushions around the table and savour the delicious seafood options. The view from the restaurant is beautiful and the atmosphere pleasant and cosy. Reserve through your pousada, or visit their website.
Whilst there are no direct international flights, getting to Fernando de Noronha is fairly straightforward by plane, with regular one-hour flights operated by Varig Airlines and Trip Airlines departing from Recife and Natal on Brazil’s northeast coast. All flights on arrival circle the island to align with the runway. Passengers sitting on the plane’s left side get panoramic views of the archipelago – a great opportunity to take incredible pictures.
For more information about Fernando de Noronha, including accommodations, tours, activities and lots of insider tips, contact your local whl.travel connection: Pedro Capelossi and the team from Trip Noronha at www.noronha.travel. Trip Noronha works tirelessly with locals and tourists to ensure the ongoing preservation of the island’s untouched natural environment.