Over 300 miles from the Brazilian coast lies Fernando de Noronha, a sparsely populated archipelago that is a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its pristine beaches and picture-perfect setting. With visibility of over 160 feet and an intense concentration of dolphin, sea turtles, small sharks, eels, rays, and a variety of fish, the waters surrounding the cluster of 21 islands are among the best in the world for scuba diving.
Many charming churches, fortresses, and other structures built more than 500 years ago bear witness to the island of Fernando de Noronha’s colonial past. The archipelago’s transformation into a colony in the 18th century was the single most destructive event in terms of environmental impact, even more so than the occupations by French, Dutch, and Portuguese forces. Nearly all of the vegetation on the main island was effectively cut down to prevent any inmates from constructing rafts and swimming to freedom. Fortunately, shrubbery has reclaimed much of the land, and people are working to bring back native trees to the main island to further spur natural regeneration. More and more marine reserves and conservation areas have been set up on the island to preserve its natural beauty for future generations.
Pig Bay and Sancho Bay are two of the most beautiful beaches in all of Fernando de Noronha. At Dolphin Bay, guests can observe the playful mammals up close, while in Sueste Bay, swimmers can get up close and personal with sea turtles. Both the shallow tidal pool at Praia de Atalaia and the larger, deeper pool at Lion Beach are formed by volcanic rock, making them ideal for swimming. There are strict rules about snorkeling in this two-foot deep pool, but those who wait will be rewarded with a view of fish, octopus, and lobster swimming just inches from their faces.
Although the island of Fernando de Noronha can be visited any time of the year, the driest months, August through December, are ideal.
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