Fernando de Noronha - Brazil’s Marine Life Paradise
Fernando de Noronha is a tropical archipelago some 350km off the north-eastern corner of the country, out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The 21 small islands are a protected marine national park, with abundant fish, dolphin and sea-turtle populations in the tropical waters, along with increasing numbers of humpback whales on their migration routes. Scuba diving around the archipelago and snorkelling in the shallow waters of the main island beaches are activities that bring many people to visit Noronha and enjoy the warm ocean.
The main island is also an ecotourism paradise, with beautiful beaches including four of which always feature in the lists of The Finest Beaches in Brazil, being Baia do Sancho, Baia dos Porcos, Praia do Leao and Praia do Boldro. The other 12 or 13 beaches are also beautiful, although at certain periods they may be closed to protect nesting turtles. They also boast some of the finest waves on the Brazilian coastline, with championship-level surf at Cacimba do Padre especially. Most people bring their own surfboards but they can be rented on the island as well.
The main island of Fernando de Noronha is the only one that is inhabited, and visitors can enjoy the beaches, the trails across the island, and the waters surrounding them. Trips around the island can be done on horse, by vehicle, or hiking the trails. As well as the wonderful natural scenery, the wildlife of Noronha also makes spectacular appearances, especially at Dolphin Bay, where hundreds of spinner dolphins put on the sunrise performance that gives them their name every morning. This display can only be observed from the viewpoint so as not to disturb the pod, but the island boat trips later in the day are usually accompanied by large numbers of playful spinners and lucky groups might also encounter them close-up during snorkelling stops around the rocky headlands of Baia do Sancho.
Marine turtles are another creature that can be observed regularly, especially at Baia do Sueste where you can snorkel with them at high tide. There are many excellent snorkelling spots around the island, including the natural pools of Atalaia at low tide. Masks and snorkels are available for rent, with places such as Atalaia requiring life jackets as well, with sunblock and fins prohibited in order to preserve the purity of the crystal clear waters. Days out on the island hiking trails with snorkelling stops along the way are a wonderful way to spend the day.
A mix of island and ocean activities is highly recommended to get the full experience of Fernando de Noronha. Snorkellers can also try snorkelling by boat, with greater distances covered as the slow boat pulls you through the water. Scuba diving is perhaps the most recommended activity for Noronha, with excellent dive sites around the archipelago for marine life and wrecks. PADI-qualified divers are very well catered for in Noronha, with daily dives at sites determined by the environment agency ICMBio, in order to protect the marine life and dive sites from being over-visited. The island of Ilha Rata, the bay of Enseada da Rasureta and the Ponta da Sapata headland are perhaps the best known sites, while the 63m Corveta Ipiranga is the one of the best wreck dives anywhere. Fernando de Noronha has excellent options for day dives, night dives, technical dives such as around the wrecks, as well as more specialised photo and video dives. For non-qualified divers there are options for Introductory Dives and also courses for PADI Open Water and Advanced Divers. As well as the dolphins and sea-turtles, you can hope to encounter many of the 240 species of fish and five species of harmless sharks including nurse, basking and hammerhead sharks. Whale-sharks and the humpback whale are also spotted occasionally. Enormous grouper, flying eagle and manta rays, eels, and colourful tropical species feeding on the coral can all be seen in water with around 30-40m visibility. Huge shoals of chub make for a photogenic swim-through as well, and specialist photography and video dives can be included.
Fernando de Noronha is undoubtedly one of the finest ecotourism and diving destinations in South America,
Suitable Destination For: Beach Lovers; Scuba Divers & Snorkellers; Wildlife & Ecotourism Lovers
Best Time to Visit: All year long for the weather and the wildlife, being so close to the equator. Peak rainfall months are April and May. Holiday periods are very busy in Fernando de Noronha and prices especially high. New Year and Carnaval may be best avoided for this reason. Visitor numbers are restricted on Fernando de Noronha so early booking is recommended at any time of year.
Essential Sights & Activities: Fernando de Noronha is an essential sight! The beaches, the water, the marine life, all are first class.