The archipelago is called Fernando de Noronha (see map.) The islands are the remains of volcanic mountains jutting up from the Atlantic. There are twenty small islands, one larger one, and scores of beautiful beaches where clean sand, pure water and fabulous marine life abound.
Claimed by Américo Vespúcio for the Portuguese in 1503, early settlers built a fortress, now in ruins, at Vila dos Remedios, the largest populated town. (See map.) The islands were a prison, then a convenient stopover point for early flights to Europe, and the facilities used by one European airline gave the name AirFrance to a local community. There was also a WW II air base. Today, the Brazilian Air Force maintains a base there.
Although the islands support a large variety of wildlife species, they are relatively unpopulated and tourism is restricted to 420 visitors at a time. In fact, the longer you stay, the higher your permit fee will go. There is one paved road, Brazil's shortest national highway, one hotel and many pousadas which fill to capacity in the summer season.
In the 1970's almost three-quarters of the archipelgo was created into the National Marine Sanctuary of Fernando de Noronha, the PN Fernando de Noronha, to preserve both the land and marine environment. Of particular interest is the nature conservancy effort saving the sea turtles (shown above. Click on the thumbnail for a larger image and description.)
While Fernando de Noronha is now a model environmental protection area, it is also one of Brazil's almost hidden treasure. The clarity and warmth of the water, on the equatorial stream, and the abundant underwater life makes these islands a mecca for divers and snorkelers. There are over two hundred species of fish, plus dolphins, sea turtles, and sharks to view and photograph.
Daily flights to and from Natal and Recife.
Boats leave from Natal and Recife. For private boats, there are facilities, though not luxurious, at the port.
You could also take a tour similar to these:
When to Go
Any time of year! The mild, equatorial climate is tempered with a gentle breeze. Temperatures are constant, 79F. or 26C. Rainy season in between April and July. Dry season is August to April, with the best surfing waves from December to February. These waves churn up the waters and divers and snorkelers will find the water clearer the rest of the year.
Check today's weather.
Lodgings and More
Please read the next page for things to do and see.