Not all beaches are created equal, but few come close to rivaling Fernando de Noronha, my most recent port of call. Even the name sounds exotic; it rolls off the tongue as rhythmically as the pods of dolphins that tumble in and out of the clear blue waters each day. They come in great numbers – the largest concentration of spinning dolphins in the world – because they know that this archipelago, located off the northeast coast of Brazil, is remote and wild and wonderful.
There are 21 islands in all, but Noronha is the largest and where I spent 7 indulgent days living the life of a Brazilian beach bum. It was bliss. It was authentic. One day I watched a local man catch fish after fish with little more than a hook tied to a piece of rope. From lounging in the sand to snorkeling, surfing, and hiking – every activity, every encounter was set against one of Mother Nature’s most magnificent backdrops. Heaven on earth…paradise… these terms are used a lot these days to describe all sorts of places, but in the case of Fernando de Noronha, they seem to ring true.
Designated a UNESCO National Marine Park with preserved flora and fauna, Fernando de Noronha is like a museum, but rather than dust, you find sand and remarkable signs of life – real works of art -everywhere you turn.
Where to stay…Triboju has a great location in center of the island with spacious bungalows, nice restaurant, and small pool just a 10-minute walk from fave beach Praia do Conceicao…Pousada Maravilha is in a gorgeous setting with Sueste Bay views, not far from the airport (not as centrally located, but beautiful beach Praia do Leao -Lion Beach – is walkable).
What to do…swim with sea turtles at Baia do Sueste…visit natural aquariums Atalaia or Pontinha to see marine life in their home setting…dive and snorkel from a private boat…hike the trails…swim… sit in the sun…drink Caipiroskas at cliffside Bar Fortinho do Boldro as the sun sets…relax.
What to eat…fresh ceviche and dulche de leche pancakes Daniela and Mariela Mercury (named after a well-known Brazilian singer who frequents this venue) while sitting on floor cushions at cool Cacimba…seafood paella at Varanda…squid pasta at Teju-Acu, the island’s best dinner spot…bruschetta and salad at Opico pre or post beach lounging.
What to know…taxis are inexpensive and plentiful…as are bugs, so bring spray…WIFI may or may not work (not always a bad thing)…brush up on your Portuguese as not all speak English…get up early to see the Spinner dolphins in action.
Caroline Travels the World…and So Can You.