By Jane Berryman and Lana Skeet
Jane is the long-serving coordinator for the Philadelphia TCC Chapter and Lana has played an active role at the conferences in Barcelona and Malta. Both met in 2014 onboard the TCC three-day Golden Princess cruise to Ensenada, Mexico.
Located in the Atlantic Ocean, 340km (200m) off the northeast tip of Brazil, Fernando de Noronha offers incredible biodiversity and stunning 100 meter elevations. It’s notable that to preserve the pristine state of the island that visitors are limited to 700 a day.
Named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001, this 21-island archipelago was originally a territorial grant to a Jewish merchant who helped fund Portugal’s world explorations. Thus, the islands were named after him. Later in the 19th century, the territory became a penal colony, and then morphed into a military training area.
Expect to pay two separate fees when you visit the islands of Fernando de Noronha. Everyone must pay the Environment Preservation Fee. A daily fee of R$67.00, it is best to pay this in advance (link in references) to avoid the airport queue.
Optional, but truly necessary, is the Marine National Park entrance fee of R$358 for up to 10 days. This is the only way to explore the island by water and to see the best beaches and hikes. This can be purchased online (link in references) or at the Visitor Center in Boldró Village.
When to go
The islands enjoy a tropical wet and dry climate with temperatures ranging from 24C (75F) to 30C (86F). The best (driest) time to visit is between August and January. Heavy rains can cancel flights to the islands and strand people for days.
Azul offers the most frequency from Recife. VoePass Linhas Aereas flies to Fortaleza, Natal and Recife. Seasonal demand drives frequency.
The Brazilian Real is the accepted currency. Bradesco bank offers the only ATM for international cards. Credit cards are generally accepted.
Arrival and getting around
A taxi costs R$35.00 from the airport to Vila dos Remédios where most accommodation is located. The bus covers the length of the island for R$5.00 and runs every 30 minutes. Taxi are an easy way to get around, but a dune buggy offers more independence which is ironic considering the sputtering exhaust for such an environmentally-focused island.
Places to stay
A pousada (Portuguese for “inn”) is the most common place to stay. These are often independantly run and offer a more intimate experience including breakfast. The Pousada Corvetta was centrally located with a tasty breakfast, but still pricey at R$1500 per night.
The simple Casa de Tereza offers a generous breakfast, a homey vibe, strong AC and a good wifi signal. Steps from one of the most beautiful beaches on the island, a 6-night sojourn at this pousada will cost R$4900, with an extra R$100 to rent two beach chairs and an umbrella per day. Two beach bars next door offer lunch and dinner.
Food and drink
Two must-visit restaurant bars to enjoy a sunset cocktail and stay for dinner are Bar do Meio Noronha and Mirante do Boldró. The views are worth it! Restaurante Xica da Silva was recommended for island flavours and the preferred choice for cheap eats is Hot Lanches (beside Pousada Corvetta) with delicious burgers and tapiocas. There are a variety of shops, bars and eateries awaiting in the main hub of the island.
Things to see and do
The Marine Park is the reason to visit. While the beaches truly are unspoilt, this is the best opportunity to dive with pelagics in the Atlantic Ocean. See amazing frigates diving for baby sharks along the sandbar of beaches and walk among flora that is unseen in any other part of the world. Spectacular!
Solo travelers may enjoy signing up for small group tours available on sites such as Viator, which run about R$400 each. Just be aware the guide’s language skills other than Portuguese may be limited, but you’ll have the chance to connect with other people, most of whom will be Brazilians.