Fernando de Noronha is a true brazilian paradise, designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. We have been in this jewel embedded in the Atlantic Ocean in January 2013, and I can say it’s without any doubts one of the most beautiful places I visited so far. You can reach it flying to Recife o Natal and then taking a connection flight to the island. Nothing difficult, just remember (to save your time at the arrival) to pay in advance through the web the environmental preservation fee charged by Ibama (Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources) at your arrival. It costs about 46 R$/day (15 Euro at today’s exchange rate) but it depends on the duration of your stay i.e. if you stay one month you will pay roughly 3760 R$ (1246 Euros) that is equivalent to about 41 Euros per day on average. In my opinion 3-4 days are more than enough to visit the island properly. As far as the accommodation there are many pousadas where to stay, but 2-3 with better standards than others , like the Pousada Maravilha or Pousada Zé Maria. Independently on where you choose to stay, I strongly recommend to book a table at Zé Maria Restaurant one night for the “Festival Gastronomico“. It’s a gastronomic show rather than a dinner, but absolutely a must. They make it twice a week (Wednesday and Saturday starting from 8 pm).
We decided to stay at the Pousada Maravilha. A really charming place, excellent location, delicious food….but the overall experience was not as we expected, especially from a service perspective…always with the perception that the personnel was not either properly trained or was just at seasonal employment…I mean everything fine, but all the same for what you pay (a lot!) you expect a minimum level of good service!
But let’s talk about the positives: once you are all set with your accommodation, first thing to do is to rent a buggy, the ideal mean to move in Fernando. Then you have just to go around discovering the several amazing spots across the Island. You will find the best beaches in Brazil…always ranked as the top 2-3 among the brazilian beaches. Beaches like Baia de Sancho or Baia dos Porcos with its famous Dois Irmaõs are breathtaking (and almost unreachable…If you don’t rent a boat and want to see for example the Baia de Sancho you have to walk in the Natural Park and then take a “vertical” iron ladder embedded in the rocks…). Other spots are unique like the Praia de Atalaia, a real natural aquarium that only 100 persons per day can visit (make a reservation when you arrive in the hotel otherwise you risk to miss this incredible spot). The water is so clean and clear that you are forbidden to “even think” to spread solar cream on your body (that under the Brazilian sun is not such a good idea…).
If you go to Fernando in summer time (of the southern hemisphere), that is from November till March the Island is quite windy and becomes the realm of surfers. In this case Praia da Cacimba da Padre is the place to go.
If simply would like to take a walk in desert beach and enjoy the view, a good choice is to go the Praia do Leilão.
Finally an incredible experience is to do snorkeling with a guide and going after the giant green turtles and ray-fishes that live in the Baia Sueste. Well, there is also another incredible spot: the Baia dos Golfinhos. If you go there very early in the morning (around 5-6 am, but depends on the period of the year) don’t be surprised if you see hundreds of dolphins happily swimming across the bay…but also simply admiring the sunset is worth a visit.
And what about the nightlife? Well…not so much! We already mentioned the festival gastronomico at Zé Maria, but beyond that the Island doesn’t offer many options. The only place to drink something and enjoy some local dance like samba or certanejo is the Bar do Cachorro, in the old village. But definitely Fernando is not Ibiza…and maybe it’s just for this reason that I liked it so much 😉