Get to Know the Island
A few tips
If you are already planning a visit to Noronha, it is best to learn a few facts before embarking on your trip. This crystal-clear paradisiacal island offers fun, good food, tranquility and everything else that you need for the perfect vacation!
In Noronha, you will be able to see one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world from Forte do Boldro (Boldro Fort), swim among schools of fish, see adorable spinner dolphins, participate in hikes and even snorkel very close to sea turtles. There is no shortage of attractions here on Fernando de Noronha Island!
But in order to properly visit Noronha, at least five days are necessary so you may get to know all the island has to offer. The island’s 17-sq-km, some 545km from the coast of Pernambuco state, home to a population of 3,500, is one of the most coveted places in the world.
The balanced relation between men and nature became one of the world’s ecological sanctuary. Fernando de Noronha’s archipelago is formed by 21 islands, and the only one inhabited is the biggest, and also called Fernando de Noronha. The other islands are part of the National Marine Park and are not open for the public or residents, and can only be visited with a special research permit granted by the ICMBio (Brazil’s environmental institution for protected areas).
How to get to the island
Fernando de Noronha is 545km from Recife and 360km from Natal. Access to the island is by airplane and ships/boats only.
There are direct flights from Recife (with GOL Airlines) and from Natal (with Azul Airlines) and flights last about 1 hour. In case you are coming from other cities in Brazil, you will need to stop for a layover at Aeroporto Internacional Governador Aluízio Alves (International Airport of Governador Aluízio Alves) or simply known as Aeroporto Internacional do Recife (Recife International Airport). One of the best things about flying to Fernando de Noronha is the panoramic overview flight that pilots may do before landing, weather conditions permitting.
One good tip is to try and pick seats on the left side of the airplane on the way to the island and on the right side of the plane when leaving Noronha so you may better enjoy the scenery!
Another less known way of reaching the island is by sea. There are a couple of companies that offer a sailing expedition to Noronha, and others simply include Noronha as a stop within their cruise-ship itineraries along the coast of Brazil.
Understanding the taxes
In order to better protect and preserve the paradise that is Fernando de Noronha, visitors must pay an environmental tax and a fee to enter National Marine Park areas.
Every single visitor needs to pay the Taxa de Preservação Ambiental (Daily Environmental Tax), which is calculated per day. There is no access to the island without paying this tax. This payment is processed by the Fernando de Noronha’s administration for island urban and infrastructure maintenance and is calculated by the number of days that visitors will spend at Noronha. After the 10th day on the island this tax increases exponentially. The good news is that most people can do all of this on the internet at www.noronha.pe.gov.br, even before they arrive on the island (it tends to be easier for Brazilians because of the system the website uses), but you may also pay for this tax with any major credit card upon arrival at Noronha‘s airport.
In order to take advantage of all that Noronha has to offer, you will also need to pay the National Marine Park Fee. The amount to be paid by Brazilian visitors and all other foreign visitors differs due to tax legislation but the permit gives visitors unlimited access for 10 days. Adults older than 60 and children under 12 are not required to pay this fee.
The National Marine Park Fee may be paid on the internet at www.parnanoronha.com.br or in person at any of the Marine Park kiosks on Fernando de Noronha island. In case you opt for internet payment, you will still need to go to one of the island’s kiosks in order to print your permit card once you arrive at Noronha. The permit card will grant you access to most Marine Park beaches that are open to the public, such as Sueste, Atalaia and Sancho beaches. For those participating on water activities such as the boat ride and SCUBA diving should also have their permit cards handy as they get checked at the pier of Noronha, so look for one of the National Park kiosks and enjoy the island!
What are the activities not to be missed?
Here we’ll give you some tips so you may fully enjoy Noronha’s beautiful scenery. Below we’ll list all the activities that are simply unmissable:
Island Tour (Ilhatur)
The island tour usually lasts all day and is a fast-paced and diverse activity as it covers many of the Fernando de Noronha‘s beaches! It is considered one of the must-do’s while in Noronha and it may be done privately or simply by joining one of the regular groups. This activity also includes water time, such as snorkeling sessions at Sueste and Sancho beaches!
Boat Ride (Passeio de Barco)
The boat ride absolutely has to be on your to-do list for Noronha! The inner sea beaches as well as the secondary islands are part of the itinerary, but unlike the island tour, during the entire time of this activity, you will have an ocean view! The ride lasts about 3-4 hours and some companies include lunch aboard, which is usually very tasty and much appreciated by visitors. And if you are lucky enough, on top of this inner sea tour, you may be surprised by the visit of the beautiful spinner dolphins that sometimes show up and accompany the boat doing their amazing spins as part of their regular show!
Atalaia Hike (Trilha da Atalaia)
Atalaia Beach is known to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Noronha. There are two types of visits: a longer version that takes you to two additional snorkeling sites and a shorter option, where visitors get to see Atalaia Beach and snorkel in the tide pool formed by a reef barrier, while observing this natural sea life nursery. There is a limited number of daily people allowed to visit this beach, so it is important to get informed about that in advance!
The archipelago of Fernando de Noronha is also home to one of the most beautiful National Marine parks of the country and one of the best dive sites in the world! For those who have never done this activity before, it is possible to take part in the famous Baptism/Resort dive which is basically a hand-in-hand first time dive with a SCUBA instructor. But for those who already dive, there are plenty of dive sites for certified divers as well as options for all ranges of advance courses. This activity is worth its cost due to its uniqueness as well as the opportunity of diving with various beautiful species of sea life and admiring the different colors down under.