Fernando de Noronha, about 350 kilometers (217 miles) off Brazil’s northeast coast, is made up of 21 islands and is an important marine conservation area. The volcanic archipelago is one of Brazil’s true paradise islands, where dune buggies are the main mode of transport and undeveloped beaches are framed by towering rocky peaks. Its warm, crystalline waters are home to rays, turtles, reef sharks, and dolphins while the island itself has several endemic species of reptiles and birds. Here are some of the best things to do at Fernando de Noronha.
Do the Atalaia hike
The Atalaia hike follows the island’s coastline with sweeping views of turquoise sea framed by jagged peaks and welcomes pauses at shallow water pools to snorkel and swim with the local marine life. There are two hikes to do: the shorter one that can be self-guided or the longer one – a four-hour hike – that is done with a tour. To do the latter, which is recommended for better views and wildlife spotting, the tour guide must be booked when you arrive at Fernando de Noronha as visitor numbers are strictly limited.
Visit Praia da Biboca
Praia da Biboca, located in the north of the island, may not be the best spot for swimming, yet for dramatic landscapes and untouched nature, it’s worth going to. The beach is formed by black rocks from the island’s volcanic past and is surrounded by large cliffs where the remains of the Fortaleza dos Remédios fort can be found at the top. The views overlooking the beach are the main draw there and keen-eyed observers may pick out traces of old shipwrecks off the coast.
Take a boat ride
One of the best ways to see all of Fernando de Noronha and visit some of its pristine beaches is by taking a boat trip around the island. The views are phenomenal: long stretches of white-silver beaches framed by towering cliffs covered in wild green vegetation. The boat tours usually include key attractions such as the Lion Cave, Praia dos Sanchos, the Two Brothers Islands, and Ponto de Sapato, and stops at calm points to snorkel in the surrounding sea. Look out for boisterous schools of dolphins and large seabirds flying overhead. Check with your hotel to book a boat trip and expect to pay around R$140 (about $43).
Go scuba diving
One of the most popular attractions on the island is scuba diving thanks to Fernando de Noronha’s rich abundance of marine life. With crystal clear waters allowing visibility up to 30 meters (98 feet) and warm waters hovering between 28 and 30 Celsius (82 and 86 Fahrenheit), it is considered one of the best diving spots in Brazil with over 20 diving sites and the chance to see a variety of wildlife, including several endemic species. Some of the best places to go include Pedras Secas, Buraco das Cabras, Morro de Fora, and Corveta V 17. Book with a reputable scuba diving company, such as Atlantis Divers.
Visit the island’s best beaches
The three best beaches on the island are Praia de Leão, Baia do Sancho, and Praia de Porcos, popular for their turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, and great snorkeling opportunities. Bring your own umbrella to Praia de Leão as the beach is totally exposed with no shade. It is also a good idea to bring your own water and food, as the few kiosks there are quite expensive.
Depending on the time of year, Fernando de Noronha is excellent for surfing and is a common pastime among the lucky locals that live there. If you’re on the island between December and April, head to Praia da Cacimba do Padre beach that is regarded as one of the best surf spots on the island, thanks to its clean waters and tube waves. Just be aware that access to the beach is strictly prohibited between 8pm and 8am to protect the marine turtles during the hatching period, which is between December and June.
Rent a buggy
Fernando de Noronha is a big island and getting around everywhere on foot is not as easy as you would think. Tourists may rent a bike or a car, yet the most fitting transport option for this tropical island is the dune buggy that can take on uneven trails that a car would find impassable. The buggy, which costs around R$120 (about $40) a day or more (much more during high-peak season such as New Year), allows tourists to visit rarely visited places and gives freedom to explore alone.
Watch an unforgettable sunset at Boldro Beach
One of the most breathtaking scenes at Fernando de Noronha is the sunset from Boldro Beach. Make the most of Pico, a small hill next to the beach, to get an elevated viewpoint to watch the sun go down across the sea. It’s an easily accessible place so you can go either by dune buggy or walking.
Go snorkeling with turtles
Fulfill a once in a lifetime experience by going to the south of the island to snorkel with wild marine turtles. If you have your own snorkeling gear, take it with you, otherwise you can rent out the equipment from any of the kiosks by the beach for about R$25 ($8) a day, although the prices may vary depending on the time of year. From there, you need to head out to Baia do Sueste where dozens of marine turtles gracefully and calmly swim through the water. Remember not to touch these animals – they are protected under the island’s conservation laws and touching them could harm them.
Explore the Shark Museum
The Shark Museum, in the northern peninsula of the island, may be small but holds a rich source of information about local marine life, especially the island’s resident sharks, which include reef sharks, hammerhead sharks, and even the occasional elusive whale shark. The recovered shark skeletons and range of dagger-like teeth on display help put their size into perspective. The entrance to the museum is free and has a small shop for souvenir-buying.
Shark Museum, Fernando de Noronha, Pernambuco, Brazil +55 81 3619-1365