The archipelago Fernando de Noronha
General information

Fernando de Noronha ist an archipelago of volcanic origin and forms the tip of an underwater mountain landscape, whose base is 4,000 feet below sea level. It is located about 545 km (i.e. 290 sea miles) northeast of Recife and 360 km (190 sea miles) northeast of Natal. The geographic Coordinates are: 03°54'S, 032°25'W. Since 5. October 1988 Fernando de Noronha is part of the state Pernambuco (Capital city Recife), even though it is closer to Rio Grande do Norte (Capital city Natal). For better orientation here a copy from Google Earth.

The archipelago was declared world natural heritage and nature monument by the Unesco and marine national park and nature reserve by Brazil. Two reasons given by the Unesco: The diversity of the different species of sea animals and the worldwide unique accumulation of dolphins.
Noronha may be nominated for the "Election of the 7 natural wonders of the world". For that we need your votes. If you already know Noronha, please participate here.

The archipelago is made up of 21 islands of different size spread over an area of approx. 26 square kilometers. The biggest on is Fernando de Noronha covering an area of 17 square kilometers with a length of 10 km and a max. width of 3.5 km. The outline is approx. 60 km long. Only the main island is populated, the others (ilhas secundarias) cannot be for conservation of nature. Conservation of nature is an important subject in Noronha. The stately administration of nature conservation IBAMA shows strong presence on the island and sues offenses partly with immense fines. For example, when you are caught catching crabs the fee is 500 R$ per crab (that's ≈200€, it happened already is indeed enforced!).
The islanders have realized that the beauty of the archipelago is their capital and have developed a very district sense of conservation of nature, which is reflected in an extraordinary cleanliness (especially for south American standards). Dropping cigartte ends is disapproved of and one should be be prepared to be confronted with that. Even the children are trained in that respect, there is hardly found any child living on the island that would carelessly drop candy papers.

Most attention is put on the under water world. In the region of the archipelago it is not allowed to fish with fishing rod, except for marked areas. Fishing nets are, except for fishing sardines, strictly forbidden - harpoons are unthinkable. A few years ago, when I flew to the island, a guy left the plane with an harpoon looking out of his backbag. He was denied entrance. He and his harpoon were immediately sent back to the continent.
Noronha attracts with its beauty diving tourists from all around the world and is an insider information among divers. The accumulation of dolphins in this density is unique in the world. In the Baia dos Golfinos more that 1.200 of these animals from another world have already been counted.
You don't necessarily have to dive, already snorkeling offers the opportunity - in case you know the right places - to see sea turtles, ray fish, murrays, immense swarms of fish and on rare occasions even sharks. The sharks are harmless, in contrast to "city sharks", like the ones in Recife. The reason is that they always have plenty of food due to the many fish in the sea - close to large cities men left hardly any fish in the sea. There, the pollution in the sea makes the hungry animals even more agressive. In Recife one can read weekly about "shark attacks", and I don't consider it a good idea to go swimming there. In Noronha I have been asking many of the inhabitants about accidents with sharks. Deadly incidents aren't even known from oral legends.
There is only one animal I am not so sure about - die murrays. Particularly when swimming in the "Piscinas naturais" (natural pools) caution is to be taken. When being bitten by a murray, the first problem is to get rid of it again - teeth are barbed. Then, there is danger of blood poisoning - the spit of the beasts is venomous.

Apart from divers, also another group of sportsmen and women is attracted to the island, surfers. In particular in the Brazilian summer - between October and March - when the waves are bigger, Noronha is a surfers paradise. In february the Brazilian and international surf championships of Hang-Loose® take place and the island is crowded with surfers.

Sort of a disadvantage of Noronha are the relatively high prices. A can (0.3 l) of beer at the beach is 3,50 R$ (≈1,40 €), which compares to 2,50 R$ (≈1 €) for a 0.6 l bottle at the beach in Recife. For a caipirinha you have to cough up 8 R$ (≈3,20 €), pizzas in the pizzeria start from 30 R$ (≈12 €). Consistently, also the accommodations are more expensive. Even off-peak season (main season is beteween christmas and carnival, when most brasilians go on vacation) you will hardly find a place for less than 100 R$ (≈32 €) per person in a double room. One reason for the prices is the fact that everything needs to be brought to the island by plane or by boat. Apart from the, the inhabitants are spoiled. The number of visitors is restricted (changing with the seasons! - about 500 tourists are allowed to be on the island at the same time, which is not to much for 3,000 inhabitants). This is compensated for with raised prices. Already the airline tickets are overdone. The return flight is currently about 1.000 R$ (≈400 €). I paied the same in december 2007 for the return flight Recife- Buenos Aires (about 4000 km). No disadvantage without advantages - due to the prices, Noronha is saved from "Ballermann 6" and "All-Inclusive" - tourism. In Noronha there is also no sex-tourism like in other regions in Brazil. I would call the time of tourism eco-tourism. Our tourist are well off, educated and participate in conserving our environment. By the way, 80% of the tourists are from Brazil, in particular these are rich Paulistas (from São Paulo), Cariocas (from Rio) und Gaúchos (south brasilians).

Now you would certainly like to know what Noronha looks like.
A Map of Noronha, or a virtual journey give a first impression.
Or you may look at some pictures of my own Photo gallery or the one of our island photographer João.
The following short movies will help you getting an impression of our "pearl":
Movie Ecotourism
Movie Turtles
Movie "Noronha minha cereja"
Movie "Noronha - Bar do Cachorro"
Movie "Hino-Noronha"
If you already fell in love, you can get a desktop background picture: here or you take a look with our live webcam.
Yet, all of this cannot reflect the beauty of Noronha. In case you want more, you should contact your travel agency. Visiting Noronha - Vale a pena - as one says in Brazil - is worthwhile!
Concluding I would like to cite my old friend and traveling fellow Werner Merkel, that I often recall to remind me appreciating where I am: "Ich kenne viele schöne Orte dieser Welt, aber keinen, an dem es so viele schöne Plätze zusammen gibt." ("I know a lot of beautiful places around the world, but none with so many beautiful places togehter.")