Freezing temperatures in the United States is an invitation to scape to the South Hemisphere where summer is just peaking.

Leave your coat, boots, gloves and scarves in the closet. It is time to go to Fernando de Noronha, an archipelago of 21 islands in the Atlantic Ocean, 220 miles off-shore from the Brazilian coast. An unique ecological sanctuary that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an area of preservation that inhabits diverse species and the most wonderful beaches situated in Brazil. Three (Sancho, Porcos and Leão) regularly feature in Brazil’s top beaches list.

A large part of the area is a National Marine Park. And for being a small island with limited water resources and a fragile ecosystem, there is a maximum number of 460 visitors allowed on the island. To enjoy Noronha, visitors have to pay Environmental Preservation Fees: one of environmental preservation, charged per day of stay, and another for those who want to visit the National Marine Park, valid for 10 days.

How to Get There

By Air: Flight times are 1:40 from Recife and 1:10 from Natal. Flights by Azul Airlines and Gol Airlines operate daily. There are also charters and full packages available from major Brazilian cities, available from most Brazilian travel agents.

By Sea: During high season travel operator CVC has 4-6 days cruises from Fortaleza, Natal and Recife.

What to Do and See

The flights always arrive in the afternoon, so take the rest of the day to visit some of the beaches closer to the center, such as the quiet Praia do Cachorro, Praia do Meio and the trendy Praia da Conceição. You can reach them by bus, taxi and bicycle. At night, make some time to watch one of the lectures of the Tamar project, which is responsible for the preservation of sea turtles.

Walking Around Noronha’s Beaches

Hop on a buggy and spend the whole day getting to know the best places and beaches of Noronha, with stops for swimming and diving in some of them, like in the Sancho and Porcos Bays. In the late afternoon, watch the Sunset at Forte do Boldró. It’s unforgettable!

Dolphins and Baby Sharks

The first destination of the day is the Golfinhos Bay. Go on a boat ride early in the morning through the waters of Mar de Dentro, facing the continent, and see dolphins jumping around you! At the afternoon, a great option is to replace the observation of calmer waters with the adrenaline of the rough sea, at the Cacimba do Padre Beach, with big waves which rank among the best in the Country for surfing.

The next day is the last one. The flights depart from Noronha in the afternoon, so you can take the morning to visit the natural pools of Atalaia Beach, where you can see thousands of fish and even baby sharks. The trail is short (30 minutes). Don’t forget to book beforehand, because the tour is very popular.

The relative isolation from the mainland, the limits on visitors and the preservation make Fernando de Noronha an expensive destination. But the “happy few” will be well rewarded by the delights of this island paradise and its fascinating underwater world.

THE HIGHLIGHTS

• The sunset
• Sancho Bay from above
• The full moon rising from the ocean
• Dolphins at the Dolphins Bay site
• Turtles on Sueste Bay (Baía do Sueste)
• Pig Bay (Baía dos Porcos)
• Atalaia
• Underwater life