The Most Epic Hiking Trails in Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

The view of Praia do Sancho, one of Fernando de Noronhas most beautiful beaches
The view of Praia do Sancho, one of Fernando de Noronha's most beautiful beaches | © Marina Feldhues / WikiCommons
Sarah Brown

Located 350 kilometers (218 miles) off the northeastern coast of Brazil, Fernando de Noronha is a volcanic archipelago made up of 21 islands and is a protected marine national park. Its tight conservation laws—such as a limited number of daily tourists and prohibiting swimming with sunscreen at certain beaches—means that nature has had a chance to flourish, and provides picturesque settings for trekking. Here are the most epic hiking trails in Fernando de Noronha.

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There are several trails on Fernando de Noronha that vary in length, between two and seven kilometers (1.2 and 4.3 miles respectively), and in level of difficulty. Each trail has its own distinct characteristics, whether its particular viewpoints or chances to spot certain wildlife. Before you head out down any of these trails, check with the park guides or your hotel. Some trails require you be accompanied by a local and recognized tour guide, as they go through protected regions.

Hike to Baia dos Golfinhos

The hike to Baia dos Golfinhos (known as Trilha Golfinhos) is short and relatively straightforward. The bay is actually made up of two beaches: Praia do Curral and Praia do Madeiro, the former a totally preserved area that requires a 20-minute hike to get there. Baia dos Golfinhos, which translates to Dolphin Bay, is the best spot on the island for dolphin-watching and, although there is no guarantee, it’s highly likely you will see several spinner dolphins, especially if you go early in the morning.

A pod of spinner dolphins, a type known for their acrobatic behavior

Hike to Sancho

The Trilha Golfinho-Sancho follows the coastline from the Baia dos Golfinhos to Sancho Beach, one of Fernando de Noronha’s most picturesque shores. The hike is relatively easy and has plenty of viewpoints along the way to stop at and take in the panoramic views. Stop at Mirante Praia do Sancho (a fantastic viewpoint) before following the trail down to the beach, where you can swim and snorkel. You will have to take equipment with you to snorkel, however, as there aren’t any places on the beach to hire snorkeling gear.

The view of Praia do Sancho, one of Fernando de Noronha’s most beautiful beaches

Trilha de Baia dos Porcos

Baia dos Porcos, which translates to Bay of Pigs, isn’t famous for its abundance of pigs, as you may expect from the name (there are no pigs here) but it is famous for its crystal-clear, turquoise sea and the Two Brothers peaks that jut out of the sea just off the coastline. You can hike there either from Sancho Beach or from the main road; both are picturesque, full of stunning viewpoints, and are not that challenging. The rewards when you arrive at the bay include swimming in one of the most beautiful spots on the island and snorkeling (take equipment with you) among dozens of different species of marine life.

The Baia dos Porcos (Bay of Pigs) in Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

Trilha Capim-Acu

This is the longest hike on the island and its complete length is about seven kilometers (4.3 miles) long. The hike takes you through enclosed forest before emerging at viewpoints on the coastline, with views of Sancho Beach and Praia do Leão Beach. If you follow the trail to the end, you can stop at the Capim-Acu cave and take a dip in the natural pool there, before continuing to Praia do Leão, another one of Fernando de Noronha‘s most stunning beaches. To do this hike, you need to contact the national park’s visitor center and hire a guide to accompany you, as the trail goes through protected land that is under conservation.

The Praia do Leão beach in Fernando de Noronha

Trilha do Atalaia

Trilha do Atalaia is one of the most popular hikes on the island, as it leads to the Atalaia Beach, a famous spot for snorkeling and swimming with sharks, which gather around the natural reefs. There are two hikes to Atalaia—the shorter one and the longer one. The shorter one takes about 25 minutes, and about the same to get back, and is not a physically demanding hike. There is a limit of 100 people per day on this trail and, once you arrive at the beach, you have just 30 minutes to swim in the sea before you have to get out for the next group in order to preserve the reefs and natural environment. This hike you can do alone, but you will need to sign up a day in advance at the park’s administration center.

The longer route takes about 45 minutes to get to the first beach, and then between four and five hours to complete the entire circuit. You don’t need to schedule this hike, but you do need to hire a guide to go with you; this is one of the park’s rules. The hike takes you to various viewpoints, natural pools, untouched reefs, and excellent swimming spots. It’s more challenging than that other hikes, so a good level of physical fitness is required.

Praia da Atalaia in Fernando de Noronha, one of the best snorkeling spots on the island

Trilha do Farol

The hike Trilha do Farol is an extension of the Trilha Capim-Acu hike and leads to the Farol da Sapata lighthouse. Getting to the lighthouse is a short hike and relatively easy, with panoramic ocean views waiting at the end. It’s possible to see dozens of different species of birds along the way, as well as wildflowers and tropical vegetation.

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