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Gorgeous views at Fernando de Noronha
Gorgeous views at Fernando de Noronha

The Complete Travel Guide to Fernando de Noronha

Picture of Sarah Brown
Updated: 17 January 2018

With three of its beaches ranked among the top five best beaches in Brazil, according to the prestigious Guia Quatro Rodas Praias, Brazil’s ultimate guide to heavenly shores, Fernando de Noronho is in a league of its own when it comes to pure paradise. From soft sand that bathes your toes as you stroll alongside untouched beaches framed by jagged cliffs, to the warm water with the world’s highest concentration of wild dolphins, the archipelago of 21 islands is a world apart from anything else. Here is the complete travel guide to Fernando de Noronha.

Overview

Fernando de Noronha is a national marine park and a conservation area that strictly limits the number of tourists that visit per year in order to preserve the unique ecosystem that thrives there. The number of visitors allowed to visit is no more than 500 people per day so the island remains relatively untouched and free from tourist swells. However, due to its divine settings, it is a highly sought-after destination so bookings should be made well in advance.

How to get there, getting around, and cost

Located just off the coast of Brazil’s northeast, it is about 350km (217 miles) from Natal and 525km (326 miles) from Recife, so a trip there will require a short flight from the mainland from either of these two cities. Usually, visitors stay less than a week and enjoy a long weekend there, partly due to price; the island is expensive and accommodation, food, and drink can cost double or more than prices in Brazil’s major cities. The island is large and getting around by foot will limit your exploration. It’s best to rent a car or a buggy, but this can be expensive (buggies from about $25 (€20) a day and cars from about $50 (€41)a day, but this can be much higher in peak season). A cheap way of getting around is using the bus which goes from north to south daily.

What to do

Exploring the paradise island is one of the most exciting and breathtaking things you can do in Fernando de Noronha with jaw-dropping views and picture-perfect scenes around every corner. The picturesque beaches are unmissable and the best ones to visit are Praia de Leão, Baia do Sancho, and Baia dos Porcos, which are considered among the best beaches in Brazil. Scuba diving is another popular activity and if you can’t scuba dive, you can either take lessons there or at least snorkel – you won’t want to miss out on the mesmerizing display of Noronha’s marine life which includes dolphins, rays, sharks, and turtles. Hiking along the coastline will offer sweeping oceanic views and if you go during December to April, head to Praia da Cacimba do Padre beach to surf or simply watch the surfers catch some waves. At the end of the day, don’t miss out on a spectacular sunset at Boldro Beach.

Where to stay

There are about 70 options for accommodation on Fernando de Noronha, most of which are basic yet comfortable lodgings. For a more luxurious hotel, there are just a handful to choose from but they provide maximum comfort and that extra-mile service for a premium price. Some of the best places to stay include Pousada Del Mares, Pousada Maravilha, and Triboju. Most of the hotels are located in the north of the island with a few scattered around the center. The south of the island is untouched by human development.

Where to eat

The north of the island has plenty of high-class restaurants that serve quality food accompanied by impeccable service and exceptional drinks. Most (if not all) places to eat are expensive, so it’s worth factoring this into your trip’s budget or opt for eating at your hotel with supermarket-bought food and drinks. For days when you want to treat yourself and eat out, O Pico is a good place to start with classic Brazilian food, as is Restaurante Varanda, known for its comfortable setting, live music, and delicious menu of traditional Brazilian cuisine and seafood. However, for a dream-like ambiance coupled with stunning Noronha views, head to Mergulhão. The key there is to arrive for a late lunch and stay for a bit longer and have some cold beer or a delicious wine to watch the sunset.