What to do in Noronha, if you don't want to restrict to lying on the beach, daydreaming (there are cheaper places in Brazil to do that)?
As mentioned above Noronha offers a "soft" kind of tourism. It is not the right place for jet- or water skiing, para gliding, bungee jumping or racing on the beach with a buggy.
Noronha offers its visitors the following activities:
You shouln't miss it. Fernando de Noronha is well known for its animal diversity and under water fauna, which is one of the reason why it got the title "world nature heritage" by the UNESCO. You'll be fascinated! Swarms of small or bigger colorful fish, swarms of sardines with countless animal, rawfish, and with some luck a Mantaray or Mantaswarm, that floats majestically through the water, barracudas, murrays, water turtles of up to 2 meter length and an some lucky meet a dolphin family and experience an unforgettable time that is worth the trip to Fernando de Noronha by itself.
Don't fear the sharks, "our" sharks are harmless. Myself, I like snorkeling at the Baia dos Porcos, swimming out to the Dois Irmãos, where a raising station for sharks is located.
You'll find the best places for snorkeling under "Beaches and Bays".
The clear waters with up to 50m sight, a water temperature of approx. 26° C on average and the diversity of the sea flora and fauna (about 250 species of fish and 15 types of corals) attract national and international diving tourists all around the year.
There are three diving schools and I don't want to classify them, that's why I present them in alphabetic order (If you want a recomandation contact me by (81) 3619 1829, (81) 8434 0000, (81) 9704 2619 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
: • Atlantis Divers: Diving School of the Frenchmen Patrik Mueller, who was one of the first "Gringos" (Foreigners) coming to the island.
• Aguas Claras: It used to frequently change the owner. Now it belongs to a Union of Brazilians that live on the main land for the bigger part.
• Noronha Divers: The "Locals". Inhabitant Cesario, born islander.
From introductory courses to dive master, from night diving over stream diving to deep sea- and wreck diving anything is offered. The following table shows the most popular diving spots in Fernando de Noronha:
Navio do Porto
Morro de Fora
Laje dos 2 Irmãos
Corveta V 17
Pedra da Sapata
Ponta da Sapata
Navio do Leão
Ilha do Frade
Pontal do Norte
Buraco do Inferno
Ilha do Meio
You may find beautiful under water photographies here.
By the way, my favorite diving spot is the wreck of the Corveta Ipiranga V17. It is one of the most spectacular wrecks in the world and the best preserved in Brazil. It is at about 63m depth as if it would still be working. (only for the experienced!)
Planasub works like the following: Equipped with a snorkel and diving goggles you hold tight to a "acryl board" with a groove that is connected with a rope to a motor boat, that pulls you and up to two other participants. Planasub is also called "Mergulhar de reboque" – tow diving. Depending on the angle under which you hold the board, you may dive down or up again or rotate around your own axis - for the trained: both at once. Apart of being great fun, you have a fast journey through Noronhas under water world. You shouldn't miss it! One Planasub-Tour takes about 4 hours, during which the participants are pulled by turns. Costs are about R$ 75 per person. There are plenty of providers, just ask in your Pousada
Links to the Planasub:
www.planasub.com.br: Official site of Leonardo Betrand Veras (port., engl.)
Fernando de Noronha - Diving with Sharks: NDR-Reportage about Leonardo B. Veras (German)
Boat tours / Fishing:
It starts at the pier in the harbour. Having left the harbour, the boat navigates towards the ilhas secundarias. There, you can see the cliffy formations of lava flows formed by the surf. Then the boat turns to southwest and passes the beaches of the Mar de Dentro, from Praia de Cachorro to the western tip of the island – Ponto de Sapata. The boat turns and navigates towards the Praia dos Sanchos where it is allowed to stop 100m offshore. There, a break for swimming and snorkeling is taken. Pay attention to the little fish, they like to nibble at your legs. After the break, the trip continues towards the harbour. Another stop is taken between Praia do Cachorro and Biboca below the Forte Remédios, close to a grotto. The noise the surf causes by hitting the grotto sounds like the roar of a lion that is, depending on the surf, loud or extremely loud. That is why the grotto is called Burraco do Leão (lions cave). Afterward the boat returns to the harbour and the trip ends. Don't forget to bring suncream and maybe snorkeling equipment. Some providers offer drinks and snacks aboard. By the way: dolphins guaranteed! I stopped counting the number of boat trips I have taken, but there was not a single, where the dolphins haven't been following us a part of the way showing some of their stunts.
My favorite boat trip provider is Trovao dos Mares. Here you go on a catamaran, which is stable in the water, which is not so easily cause seasickness. The trip is exclusive, it takes about 5 hours (mornings only), includes lunch, offering to only R$ 25 surcharge Planasub and is only R$ 35 more expensive than the other providers. Disadvantage is that the places are often fully booked . Particularly in the high season I recommend to book in advance. Gladly I can reserve seats for you without obligation and without additional cost in advance. Contact me at email@example.com.
If you like fishing - we have companies organize half-day fishing trips. Such a fishing trip costs about R$ 900 and is usually limited to 4 passengers. You should be seaworthy , the fish is mainly in the outer sea, but enough of the haul: . Cavalas (Wahoo) , tuna , dorado , often more than 20 kg and with a lot of luck especially in August when the Marli swarms pass, sometimes a swordfish.
The fishermen take tourists for a fee to fish too.
Last time I went out we got nearly 200 kg of Tuna, Barracuda and Dorado. Contact me, if you want to go fishing or hire a fishing boat. On occasion I will get further information on prices etc.
Insist in any case to a part of the catch. If you do not know what to do with it, I can help you. We put it at the grill. A self-caught fish tastes best.
August should be interesting, when marlin swarms are passing Noronha and the championships "Campeonata de Pesca Ozeanica" in sports fishing take place.
In case you aren't already addicted to the sports, that is just as usual here as skiing in the alps, you may learn surfing here with some local teacher. However, it looks easier than in really is. Being a passionate skier - grown up in Bavaria - I thought, after plenty of offers by my local friends: Well, just let's give it a try! It's not that easy, at all! I gave up - perhaps I'm just feeling to old to learn it, perhaps my main water sports, sailing, doesn't want any competition. Maybe I'll try again, when my four year old son, who puts his feet on the Brancha, already, starts to make fun of me.
Wind surfing is hardly cared of in Noronha. Throughout the main season, waves are to big. In may there's wind surfing championships. In case you want to try it you have to hope for calm waters and bring your own equipment, I haven't heard of someone renting it.
There are different possibilities of traveling on the island
By foot: Smaller trips can indeed be done by foot, but don't underestimate the size of the island. There are only a few beaches where it is possible to pass from beach to beach, in general one has to return to the main street.
By bike: Bicycles can be rented from the Locadora Solimar, Vila dos Remédios Tel.: 3619 1965 or the Pousada Mar Atlantico, Floresta Nova, Tel.: 3619 1915. Don't underestimate the inclinations at some places. In particular the inclination back from the harbour makes you feel like your at a mountain stage of the "Tour de France". Who doesn't have to decent and push the bike here at temperatures usually above 30° deserves a "yellow jersey ".
By Horseback riding: "…Das Glück der Erde ist auf dem Rücken der Pferde…" (the luck of the earth lies on the back of the horses) is what we say in Germany. It's not true for me. Since I broke a leg horseback riding about 15 years ago in Minas Gerais - I head my leg in a cast for 3 months - I try to keep some distance to horses.
For those who like horseback riding, there is the possibility to participate in guided tours. However, not all paths can be entered by horse.
Riding tours (Passeios Eqüestre) are offered by:
Cavalgada Ecologica – Vila da Quixaba, Tel.: 3619 1705
Duda Condutor Eqüestre – Vila DPV, Tel.: 3619 1483
Fernando Condutor – Floresta Nova, Tel.: 3619 0035
Samuel – Basinha, Tel.: 3619 1141
Valter – Vila do Boldró, Tel.: 3619 1399
Bus: There is a public bus line on Fernando de Noronha. Two buses between Porto and the Sueste with stations at the important locations. One ride is R$ 3,20. This is the ideal way of traveling for those who'd like to save some money.
Taxi: The local taxi company is called Nortax with its office in Vila dos Remédios next to the post office. Currently, the price for a ride by taxi is about R$ 20 on the main routes - independently of the distance. It seems there's unit prices.
Rental motorbike: Motorbikes (usually 150 ccm Honda Enduro) can - depending on the season - be rented for R$ 100 (an international driving license is needed). You should be a quite skilled motorbiking as the roads to the beaches are partly hard to do. If you are interested - I rent my brand new Honda Bros Enduro, please contact me: 3619 1829 or 8434 0000 or firstname.lastname@example.org. It is more advisable to take a
Rental car: Nearly without exception buggies that are ideal for the roads at Noronha. Off season, a rental car is about R$ 150, during the main season (October to April) R$ 180 and 500 R$ between Xmas and beginning of January - (international driving license needed). Test-drive the car - some are in unacceptable condition or just rent the Buggy by an officially recognized motor-vehicle expert, namely me (36191829 or 8434 0000 or email@example.com.). During the main season it is advisable to reserve the car in advance.
A buggy tour ( Passeio de Bugre or Ilhatour ) is basically an island tour with guide and car, the car must be a buggy not necessarily. In recent times more and more vehicles like Land Rover are imported to Fernando de Noronha for the reason they can carry more than four passengers. However, it's no fun with 10 other tourists to explore the island.
The island tours start at 8:30 clock in the morning. The driver will pick you up at the Pousada and will take you to the sights and beaches of Fernando de Noronha. Unfortunately, very few of the tourist guides speak English and if they do, then with some accent. A lunch break will be taken and the sunset is usually at the Praia do Boldró, Praia do Conceição or at the Forte dos Remédios.
The price for an island tour is actually (Feb. 2014) R$ 100 by person if you book through the resident travel agencies and want to do a tour with nine other tourists.
Individual it works with my wife or me (english spoken). Base price R$ 200 + R$ 50 per person, max. 4 people). Book via 36191829 or 8434 0000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, there are tours to particular site, such as to Praia da Atalaia. For this you need a licensed guide (my wife has the license) and you should register 2 days in advance. There is a long (about 5 hours) and a short (about 2 hours) hiking trail to Atalaia . The cost (for my wife as a guide) is R$ 90 for the short and 150 R$ for the long trail per person. More recommendable is the long, here you will see 3 pools, of which the other two in my opinion are more beautiful and uncrowded like the main pool. Please note that the pool can only be accessed at low tide.
You cannot avoid hiking, if you want to see the most important locations at Fernando de Noronhas. For example, you cannot reach the Mirante dos Golfinhos, Praia dos Sanchos, Baia dos Porcos or the Praia da Atalaia directly by car.
Officially the trilhas (hiking tracks), which were approved of by the IBAMA and are part of the national park, can only be entered in company of an authorized guide.
Here are the tracks that I can recommend and that I sometimes do myself:
Beach track from Praia do Meio to Praia dos Sanchos and further to Mirante dos Golfinhos:
Starting at the Vila dos Remédios you go left at the Bar do Cachorro, i.e., west. Through a little forest you arrive at the Praia do Meio. At the other side of the Praia do Meio is a tip of land, where you can take a break at the Bar do Meio.Or you continue to the Praia do Conceição, to take a break at the Bar "Duda Rei" and get some food and strength for the next part of the trip. Here you can also ask whether the path to the Praia do Bodró can be done at that time. In case it is not high tide or full moon (when the sea is rougher than usual) the answer will be affirmative. You continue in direction west pass the Morro do Pico and the statue of Nossa Sra. da Conceição on your left hand side. Now, some climbing will be necessary. Over the rock that are basically the tails of the Pico you reach the Praia do Boldró. The path is not always easy to spot. If you are not sure, do not start any dangerous climbing activities. Remember, when it is getting to tough, that my four year old son does the path without difficulties. Rather take a rest and wait for a passing local that shows you the way. As soon as the Praia do Boldró is visible, you can't go wrong anymore. In the very beginning there are two bars, the one of Gerson, where it is more "local" and cheaper, or the "Meu Paraiso", which is a neat bamboo bar run by the Italian Christiano, who is married to a cousin of my wife. Further to the west you pass the Praia do Americano, Bode and Quixabinha until the Casimba do Patre. There are two bars where at the exit of the beach towards the main street, where they serve excellent grilled fish. From the Casimba do Patre the way goes up- and down hill to the Baia dos Porcos. When you spot the second-best Brazilian beach, you'll notice your legs accelerating. The bay cries out for you taking a bath. If you brought snorkeling equipment, even better, the bay is one of the best spots for snorkeling at Noronhas. If you should indeed decide to leave again at some time, there is a path (that is not officially allowed but neither controlled nor sued), to the most beautiful beach of Brazil – the Praia dos Sanchos. I don't have words for it. After another swim, here, the further way becomes's more tiring. Passing some steep stony stairs, via some grotto, some iron stairs and a small hole you reach the top of the rocks of about 50m height that surround - you might even say protect - the Sanchos. Several view points along the path leading to the west make believe that nature as an artist put special attention to this piece of land. The path leads after about 2 km to the Mirante dos Golfinhos.
Addendum, March 2008: Yesterday I noticed that a part of the path from Baia dos Porcos to Sanchos has been slipping down. As it is from now on not only forbidden, but even dangerous, to take the path, I advice you not to go. Alternatively one can go back to the Baia dos Porcos and the Casimba do Patre, follows the road away from the beach and on the right the path goes to Vila da Quixaba. From there, it is 500m until the iron stairs that allow entrance to the Praia dos Sanchos. After visiting the Praia dos Sanchos there is a path in eastern direction that, after 400 meters, leads via the ruin of the Fort "Dois Irmãos" to the Mirante dos Porcos, where one can enjoy a beautiful view of the bay and the rocks "Dois Irmãos". The path ends here. Back at the Sanchos, another path leads after about 2 km to the Mirante dos Golfinhos, from where it is about another kilometer back to the Vila da Quixaba.
Other tracks that you can/should also do with local guides:
Trilha do Farol: Length approx. 2,5 km. Nice view points. Pure untouched nature.
Ponta do Capim-Açu: Start and End at Praia de Leão. Leads until the western end of the island passing forts and left overs of world war II. Open august until February.
Pontinha Pedra Alta: Starts at the Enseada da Caeira and ends at the Vila da Trinta. You’ll visit the "Petras Secas" which is a historical area with the legendary cave of "Captain Kid".
Jardim Elizabeth: Length 1.6 km, duration 1 hour The Jardim Elizabeth was build during the dutch occupation in the 18th century. Here, plants that were imported from Europe were grown to feed the population. Ends at the Praia do Cachorro.
Costa Azul: Length 2.3 km, duration 2 hours. Starts at the ruins of the womens prison from the 18. century in the Vila dos Remédios. The track passes the Morro do Pico and the ruins of the fort Sta. Cruz.
Costa Esmeralda: Length 2.2 km, duration 2 hours. It is a part of the track that I described in the beginning. It leads from the Praia do Bode to Casimba do Patre. Particularly interesting is watching the Fragatte birds fishing.
Apart from the historic buildings described in the chapters „beaches“ and „hiking“ , there are several other places in Noronha that should be of interest to those who are interested in cultural activities.
The Vila dos Remédios, at least the lower part of it, is of historical meaning itself. The dutch build in 1629, during the 25 years they occupied the island, the fort Nossa Senhora dos Remédios, which was extended later by the portuguiese und by Pernambuco. Of further interest is the Palácio, where the administration of the island is located, the fort, the churc, the museum and "Arte Noronha", where noronhiesian art is exhibited and sold. Further sights in the Vila dos Remédios can be found at the Website of the Islands Anministration.
Auf der superordinate site you can learn more about buildings at Noronha.
The ones that like the pieces of art by the local artists, should visit the "Espaço Cultural Air France" close to the harbour, where you can watch some local artists, e.g. Rock, at work. Those who enjoy the art even more should visit an exceptionally gifted artist, Tam who is a Cousin of my wife, in his studio. In that case, please contact my wife or me.
Further I recommend the shark museum, about which I wrote a little more in the chapter on Plana Sub
In addition to the mentioned sport activities, like horsebackriding or jogging you may lent at the Praia da Conceição and the bar "Duda Rei" rackets and a ball to play frescoball or beachball (two wodden rackets, double the size of a table tennis racket and a rubber ball). Sometimes people also play soccer, there. Who wants to play beach volley or fotvolley there is a net. In case there is nobody playing where you could join in, just lent a ball at the bar.
You shouldn’t expect the night life in Noronha to offer, what you would find at the Copacabana in Rio or in Ponte Negra/Natal. Tourists usually are tired from their daily activities and go to bed early.
Yet, Noronha has something to offer for night owls . In general, the night life takes place in the Vila dos Remédios. In the pizzeria there is live music from wednesday to saturday. On mondays, "Maracatú" , the noronhesian carneval band percussion, plays at the Bar do Cachorro. In addition, every day one can dance Forró, the local folk dance – starting at 11:00 pm. This is also an alternative to the pizzeria for getting good pizza.