BY: Viktor Vincej
Nestled off the coast of northeastern Brazil lies an exquisite hidden gem: Fernando de Noronha Island.
I stumbled upon this remote island while watching a video about the places to visit in Brazil on YouTube. Its natural beauty immediately caught my attention, and I was surprised I had never heard of it before. However, it was only after I discovered how far and remote it was, I became even more intrigued and sold on the idea of visiting. I was already in Brazil, so I only needed to find out how to get there, and from that point, I stopped planning. There isn’t much information available anyway, only a few vlogs and articles about the Island in English.
Fernando de Noronha, an archipelago of 21 islands and islets located 354km off the coast of Brazil, is well-known among locals but relatively unknown to foreigners.
This is evident in the low number of foreign visitors to the Island, with only 1,217 registered in 2022. Among these, the majority were Americans, with 310 U.S. tourists exploring the Island. Germans followed in second place with 109 visitors, followed closely by Argentinians with 103.
These figures highlight the Island’s exclusivity and pristine natural environment, which remains largely untouched by the mass tourism industry.
The Island has a cap on the number of visitors allowed at a time, which prevents it from feeling overcrowded and ensures that visitors can fully appreciate its unspoiled beauty. Only around 400 visitors can enter per day.
I arrived with a “zero-to-non” plan, just booked a one-way ticket and 2 nights in my first hotel (Pousada Moana). I landed around 3 pm and felt the remoteness as soon as I stepped on the Island. Small airplane, tiny airport, an immediate view of the tallest rock (Morro do Pico), and only a handful amount of tourists paying entry fees before jumping into taxis.
Fernando de Noronha Island is Marine National Park and charges an entrance fee to help fund conservation efforts and protect the Island’s fragile ecosystem. The cost for a 7-day entry fee is approximately 120 USD.
After check-in, I changed into my swim shorts and took a barefoot walk to the nearest beach. The journey took approximately 10-15 minutes through jungle-like and muddy off-road terrain.
Upon arrival at Praia da Conceição, I was absolutely amazed by the beauty of the beach and the incredible feeling of seclusion. Only a few people were present. I strolled to the left corner where I found myself completely alone, climbed a rock, and sat for a while, basking in the ambiance and waiting for the sunset. On this Island, one can genuinely experience the feeling of being Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Beach” movie.
After the sun came down, I walked to the other side of the beach to have a drink while watching the sunset “leftovers”. Ended up having fresh grilled tuna and 3 caipirinhas, why not :). The cliff restaurant had live music and amazing Tulum/Bali-style decoration.
Beaches, biodiversity, nature, and sharks!
The Island is well-known for its pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters that are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and surfing. There are 16 beaches on the Island, each with its own unique features and charms.
In fact, one of the beaches, Baia de Sancho, was crowned as the best beach of this year on the Travelers’ Choice Awards by TripAdvisor. It’s a secluded beach that can only be accessed by climbing down a steep staircase, but the effort is definitely worth it.
Fernando de Noronha is not only renowned for its beautiful beaches but also for its rich biodiversity and stunning natural scenery. The archipelago has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its unique and diverse ecosystem.
The island is home to a variety of wildlife, including dolphins, sea turtles, and various species of birds, some of which are endemic to the Island. The waters surrounding the archipelago are teeming with marine life, including colorful fish, octopuses, and sharks.
In addition to the abundant marine life, Fernando de Noronha is also home to a variety of flora, including endemic species such as the Noronha Elaeocarpus and the Noronha Piptadenia. The Island’s vegetation includes mangroves, Atlantic forests, and scrubland.
On my second day, I took a walk on the Praia da Cacimba do Padre. Just after sunset, I came across a guy recording something with a lot of passion while standing in shallow water. His girlfriend behind him looked very worried, so I knew something was up! As soon as I pulled up my phone, a shark fin appeared maybe only maybe 10 meters away. It was my first close encounter with a shark on the beach so my heart was pounding hard. I told myself it might be an old one dying or a lost one trying to get out of shallow water but just a minute later I saw 2nd one! I immediately became a “shark hunter” and kept recording until the dark.
Right after I left the beach, I got caught in a massive storm, but luckily, a couple gave me a ride to the hotel. I was standing in the heavy rain, in the absolute dark, barefoot on a muddy off-road hitchhiking. A perfect horror movie scenario if you ask me but they were brave enough to stop!
Once I got home and rewatched the videos, I realized there were actually 3 adult-size sharks, just chillin’ in the water where people also swim. I did a bit of research and found out it’s a daily thing. Sharks are often spotted in the area where the waves break because they feed on sardines, which swim in that specific spot.
This short documentary explains all about the sharks in Fernando de Noronha:
Visitors are lured to Fernando de Noronha not only for its stunning natural beauty but also for its vibrant nightlife.
The Island boasts a variety of clubs and bars, and hosts theme parties and beach events every weekend, earning it the nickname “Brazilian Ibiza”.
The weekend is coming up, so I’ll give my personal review of the nightlife after (or might keep it to myself :P). Stay tuned on Instagram, I am here for 7 more days, or maybe 7 more weeks, or..
Few facts about the Island
- Founded: August 10, 1503.
- Population: 3,101 residents (2020).
- Area: 18.4 km2.
- You can literally walk everywhere, it takes around 45 mins to cross islands on foot.
- There is only 1 road basically
- Only the eponymous main island (out of 21) is inhabited.
- Prices: it’s an expensive island but about the same as Europe’s beach destinations in the summer season.
- Internet: mostly very bad or non! The place where I stayed first 2-nights, Pousada Moana, has one of the best connections on the Island. Stable, slow but was enough for me to keep publishing articles, upload photos, and have a few audio calls.
I’ve been to 89 countries and many places around the world but this place climbed to the top very quickly!
Fernando de Noronha steals your heart as soon as you get out of the airplane. Whether you’re walking on the beach, relaxing on the main square, or watching the rain from your room, the Island feeds your soul with every passing moment.
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