Fernando de Noronha is an island archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. In 2001, UNESCO declared Fernando de Noronha a World Heritage Site due to its special ecosystem. Most visitors come to these islands to dive or simply just enjoy lying on the beautiful beaches.
Through the glasses of your diving mask, you see the colorful layers of the waves around you. A bright red lobster moves around on the bottom of the sea. A school of small fish swims right in front of your eyes. Above the water, the panorama is just enchanting. The Two Brothers Rocks protrude above the green-blue sea. A pelican lands on the water a few meters away. This is what you experience if you visit this paradise called Fernando de Noronha.
Fernando de Noronha is a group of twenty-one mini islands in the Atlantic Ocean which is about 350 kilometers offshore from the Brazilian coast. Even the largest island is only eighteen square kilometers in size and has no more than 3,000 inhabitants. The other twenty islands are uninhabited.
Opinions differ on who discovered the islands. The residents agree that the Portuguese were the first to set foot on land at the beginning of the sixteenth century.
However, Spaniards claim that Juan de la Cosa, a Spanish navigator as well as cartographer, was the first to discover the archipelago. According to the theory, later the Spanish king Dom Manoel donated the islands to the Portuguese aristocrat Fernão de Noronha in 1504. Soon after, the British arrived. British remained for twenty years, followed by the French and again the Spaniards.
Nossa Senhora dos Remédios
In 1635 the main island fell into the hands of the Dutch West India Company for a short time. Almost twenty years later, the Portuguese recaptured the territory again. After that, there was finally political peace in the archipelago.
In 1737 the Portuguese built ten forts at strategic places on the main island. The ruins made the archipelago an unconquerable fortress. One of the forts called the Nossa Senhora dos Remédios is the best-preserved ruin on Fernando de Noronha. It could be a bit of a hike to get up there to the fort, but you have a great chance to catch one of the most beautiful sunset views on the island.
Treeless prison island
Something you might notice when you take a walk on the island is that there aren’t as many trees growing as you would expect on a subtropical island. The reason is that the island was once served as a prison in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. To prevent prisoners from building rafts out of trees, all trees were cut down.
To help preserve the island’s natural landscapes and conserve the delicate ecosystem that thrives there, the local government introduced the rule that no more than about 450 to 500 tourists per day are allowed to stay on the island at the same time. These regulations are to protect the ecosystem but actually also because of the island’s very few water resources.
Most beautiful beaches in Brazil
The nature of Fernando de Noronha is overwhelming and you will find the most beautiful beaches in Brazil. Each beach on the island has a special charm to it. For example, Sancho Beach is ideal for diving and at Conceição Beach, you can surf and enjoy nice bars. At Dolphins Bay, unfortunately, it is not allowed to swim or sail but you can see dozens of rocker dolphins.
Diving in Fernando de Noronha
Fernando de Noronha is a true diving mecca. You can even find the best-preserved wreck in the country, a Brazilian warship, the Corveta Nael Ipiranga, at the bottom of the ocean. The interior of the ship is still intact, including things like cabinets and kitchen utensils. Many fish and sharks are swimming around the ships but you do not have to worry as they are very friendly.
What is there to do at Fernando de Noronha
- Fernando de Noronha is not only beautiful above the water, but also underwater. Dive to the Brazilian war wreck called Corveta Nael Ipiranga.
- Discover the coral reef while snorkeling with one of the many sea turtles on your side. You can rent a snorkel set at most of the guesthouses on the island.
- The best way to explore the islands is on foot. If you prefer, you can also rent a beach buggy!
- Ask for the Atalaia Trail on the island. This 5-kilometer long trek takes you to all the beautiful spots on the island.
- Watch the sunset at Boldró’s Fortinho. Here you can see the sun sinking into the sea between the Two Brothers Rocks.