Mar 1, 2010

FERNANDO DE NORONHA: number one destination in Brazil

by Antonella Kann

The archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, with 17 km2, easily hooks anyone who has the faintest fantasy of what paradise looks like, and is anyone´s stuff of dreams with 15 paradisiacal beaches. Until 1938 it used to be a penal colony and now it´s a National Park submitted to the strict environmental rules of the IBAMA ( Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente ).
But tourism definitely is the main industry of the island. Most of its 3 thousands inhabitants, who originate from almost every state of Brazil and also from different other countries are busy doing business with tourists. But bear in mind that everything is a rip-off, mainly because except for home-made bread, all the goods are imported from the continent. There´s nothing to buy for R$ 1,00 ( U$ 0,35). Even a bottle of mineral water will cost R$ 2,50 (U$0,89), a pizza can reach R$ 30,00 (U$ 10,70) .

The sea is crystal-clear, there are natural pools, perfect aquariums with plenty of fishes to swim with, there is beauty and tranquility in every inch of nature and… there are the dolphins. Noronha´s warm tropical climate guarantees temperatures around 26 Celsius all year round, but with two distinguished periods – dry and rainy seasons. Best time is March, June, September, October and December (before New Year´s Eve): the weather is sunny, the sea is quite calm and the prices are lower than January, February and July ( school holidays). Avoid April by all means, as it rains steadily.

Bearing in mind that everything you are supposed to do is outdoors, the day must begins quite early. You can hike around the whole island in man-made trails along the coastline, framed between the sea and rocky landscape. Many people just rent a bike, a scooter or simply walk. Hitchhiking is also a regular practice. But take note: the most popular way to get moving around the island is with the buggy, – a typical convertible jeep with a VW engine – and the only type of car on the island. If you want to get intimate with Noronha ( which you MUST!), do not hesitate to rent one, even though the price is outrageous. But do ask your hotel for the car well in advance, or you´ll end up walking (and public transportation is quite inexistent). But watch out: although there is only one road, the local police considers applies the driving regulations of the continent. So expect to be urged to wear your seatbelts in the front (though in the back you are perched like a bird on a branch) or risk a heavy fine.

With a map of the island, it´s really easy to get acquainted with all the beaches in a blink of an eye. Most of them are linked to each other through passes and trails, so consider walking, exploring three or four every day. Chances are that most of the time you´ll have a very large stretch of sand just to yourself. Pigs´Bay, between Sancho (considered to be the most beautiful in Brazil!) and Cacimba do Padre´s beaches will definitely cause an impression, even stronger if your glance is from the top of the cliff: it looks like a painting.

Although there are several little inns, refurbished bed& breakfast and simple accomodations around the island, those searching comfort and service should choose one of these two pousadas:
Pousada Maravilha . You can´t get better than that in a 5 star hotel on the continent. This establishment offers spacious and secluded bungalows, magnificient views over the Sueste Bay, plus sauna, a huge swimming pool and sophisticated restaurant to pamper its guests. Luxury guaranteed, although extremely pricey all year-round, even by international´s standards. Breakfast included and served in-room at no extra cost.

Offering much more flexibility of rates than Maravilha´s, Pousada Zé Maria is the ideal place to stay with your family. The view to the Pico´s Mount is incredible and there´s the Conceição Beach ( think surf!) at the tip of your fingers. The food is reasonable and the owner a local character full of charm. The establishment is one of the oldest b&b of the island but has been refurbished and given an upgrade. Sauna & swimming pool with a view. Now almost all the 19 bungalows are air conditioned and have mini bar, cd player, and plasm TV. Ask for room 6 if you come with children, as you get two connected but independent rooms and a jacuzzi on the terrace with overwhelming view of the Pico´s Mount. Total privacy assured but be sure to make reservations way ahead.

The two hotels provide transportation to and from the airport, which is situated no more than a few minutes away. But do not bother about whatever noise can a nearby airport affect your vacation – there are only two flights a day, and depending on where you are standing, you don´ t even have to look at your watch: just by the sight of the plane approaching or leaving, you´ll know what time it is.

One last tip about the “Paradise Fee”: check

Don´t forget to check this site, as you can fill in the “immigration” form (there´s an English version) through the web and print it. There´s an entry fee to pay, which you can do in a Brazilian bank, on the continent. It will save you time! The crowd at the airport is always a tantrum, as the only two daily flights leave and arrive almost at the same time (believe it or not!). When you are leaving, you must return part of the form so the authorities check if your stay is not overdue. And if it is, you´ll be charged double for each extra day you spent without previous authorization. Well, all this doesn´t enhance your fantasy about being in paradise, but once you get intimate with the place, there´s really nothing that will deceive you anymore.

1 comment:

  1. This palve seems like heaven on earth, got to visit it soon!