And Beyond

Some of Brazil’s most beautiful beaches lie 215 miles off its Atlantic coast. There, a volcanic archipelago stands as a beacon for divers, sun-worshipers and marine life. The islands are virtually deserted; no more than 420 visitors are allowed at any one time.

The Fernando de Noronha chain is tiny; the largest island, for which the group was named, has an area of only seven square miles. Yet these shores are lined by more than twenty excellent beaches; some are ideal for swimming and relaxing, while others are known for their turtle nesting grounds and blowholes.

Approximately 70% of the archipelago is protected as a National Marine Park. The islands received further protection in 2001, when UNESCO declared them a World Patrimony site. These exceptionally clear waters are perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving. Here, divers can observe sharks, rays and sea turtles; descend submerged cliffs; and explore caverns and shipwrecks. From December to February, 15-foot waves draw surfers from across South America.

Dolphin Bay is the most famous attraction in the islands. This heavily protected area is a playground for an estimated 600 spinner dolphins. Visitors can observe the dolphins from the cliffs that line the bay and from nearby boats.

Because development and tourism are tightly controlled, the accommodations on Fernando de Noronha are modest. Most are private residences that have been adapted into bed and breakfasts. Reservations should be made early, especially for the peak times: December through February and July.

The islands are best reached via daily flights from Recife and Natal. Less frequent flights arrive from Fortaleza. Once here, many visitors rent motorized buggies to travel around the main island