Accessible only by air, and the occasional ship, Fernando de Noronha is an archipelago consisting of a main volcanic island that's a little more than ten square miles in area, and a couple dozen smaller islands, all boasting Fernando de Noronha beaches and each with it own unique attractions and things to do.
It's not easy to sum up the archipelago or the Fernando de Noronha beaches in one article. To give you an idea of the scope of its natural beauty, isolation, and unique attractions, think of another pristine archipelago on the other side of South America in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Ecuador-the amazing Galapagos Islands. These two places have much in common. Choose any beach in Fernando de Noronha or any bay or even any underwater habitat, and you will see the similarities. In fact, Charles Darwin and his famous ship, the Beagle, actually visited here 1832 during his five year voyage en route to the Galapagos, and he commented on the unique geological features of the islands, its unusual flora, and its abundant marine life.
The Fernando de Noronha beaches and the archipelago were claimed for Portugal by Amerigo Vespucci in the early sixteenth century. The tropical islands, alternately rugged and lushly beautiful, are the remnants of volcanic activity, and the human population is quite small (only a bit over 2,000). The archipelgo is located a bit more than 200 miles off the Natal coast of Brazil in the state of Pernambuco. Any given beach in Fernando de Noronha and most of the island group itself comprise a zealously protected National Marine Reserve. Visitors are strictly limited to only about 500 at any given time. You pay an Environmental Protection Tax (EPA) on arrival, and the tax increases the longer you stay.
There are stiff fines for disturbing protected flora and fauna or even stepping onto a beach in Fernando de Noronha that might be off-limits to humans. There are several of these that most often protect one of the main attractions of the islands-dolphins. Ironically, a dolphin is the first recorded creature killed for food by the Darwin party in 1832. One of these protected areas is Dolphin Bay (Baia dos Golfinhos). This bay and beach in Fernando de Noronha is accessible only by a pathway that leads to the edge of the cliff that looks down on the beach. You may not approach in a boat. When you visit, don't expect to come here on a simple Brazil day trip. You need to devote a few days, and expect to pay for the privilege.
With all these restrictions and inaccessibilty, you may be tempted to think that the Fernando de Noronha beaches just aren't worth the effort or expense. Those who have made the trip and fallen in love with it, hope you continue to think that way. This is not on everyone's suggested itinerary, and a Brazil cruise here is an exclusive luxury. But once you get here, you'll find an ashtonishly beautiful tropical paradise with some of the best Brazil beaches and it is tailor made for those who seek out the unique wild corners of the world. Take Sancho Bay, for instance. Here is where hundreds of spinner dolphins perform acrobatically every day, and where boats are allowed to stop for swimming and snorkeling. The bay and its beach in Fernando de Noronha is also accessible by walking trails-one by literally scaling rocks and the other a rope ladder anchored to a cliff. As you can see, hiking, climbing, and other physical activities are some of the things to do on these islands.
But don't worry about a lack of relaxation and down time. You can marvel at flying fish, sharks, barracudas, and sea turtles while lazily sunning yourself on deck during a day cruise. Or watch dolphins frolicking from a hammock strung between two palm tree on the beach. As we said, there are a couple dozen Fernando de Noronha beaches that are among the best brazil beaches, and most everyone will find the one that suits them somewhere on the islands. There is surfing on Boldro and Cachoro; fresh water pools, salt water lagoons, and tide pooling at Meio; sea turtle nesting on Leau; snorkeling with manta rays at Atalanta; mangrove groves and coral reefs at Sueste; and a historic fort on Remedios. Are you getting the idea?
With only 500 or so visitors at a time, there are only about 100 total Brazil hotels on the archipelago. Most of these others are pousadas, homes made into small family-run inns that offer full board and will assist with booking your excursions to different Fernando de Noronha beaches and island attractions. There are a handful of actual Brazil hotels that offer the amenities you might expect of a four-star island resort.