If you truly want to be in awe of Fernando de Noronha, then I recommend starting with one of the general island tours on your first day. (Blue Marlin had some good tours!) It’s great as there are some areas of the island you are only allowed to go to with a guide, particularly where the sea turtles are hatching and their breeding grounds. Once you’ve gone around to all points of the island, heard all the local stories, seen the views and taken those tourist pose photos (see below), then you’re pretty much free to pick and choose from the type of scene you want to for the rest of your time.
From the sandy stretch of Praia Baldro to the snorkeling haven of Baia dos Porcos to the enchanting Baio do Sancho, you’ll be spoilt for choice on this island. Waves? There’s a beach for that. Snorkeling, there’s a hundred bays for that. Chilled down time, there’s a beach for that too….
Buggies, Bikes or Hikes are the best way to get around the island – and it’s not that big a place that you can’t get to or from any one place without too many worries.
Tour operators offer boat trips around the island too. Dolphins love to play alongside the boats as you head to the bays around the island and drop anchor to snorkel. I didn’t really rate snorkeling before this trip. I’d been snorkeling up in Cairns, and it was fun, but would I be itching to do it again – probaby not. But here, the sheer volume of wildlife underneath the waters, and the absolute purity and clarity in the waters around the island make snorkeling or diving a must.
You could see down for 40 metres through the water to the sea floor below with little difficulty. Giant sea turtles lazily swim around, as do manta rays, sharks (friendly mostly), fish of all sizes and colours.
I didn’t make it diving, but maybe these videos might whet your appetite!
On the island, the birds slowly circle overhead above the beaches, as hordes of small lizards roam the rocks and scurry when the giant rat-like creatures come snooping around. Natural beauty is everywhere… just as you’d hope.
I had believed the massive grey shape across the bay on the horizon to be the mainland, but no, it turned out to be my next destination.
Ilha Grande, aptly named as this island is huge, is mostly an untouched paradise just south of Rio de Janeiro, next to Angra dos Reis.
After docking the ferry at Vila Abraão, pop 6,000, we were greeted by six sandy streets of tourist shops, restaurants, pousadas and bars to choose from. This is the only real village on the island and the main hub of activity.
I grabbed my backpack and walked onwards, asking along the way how to get to my pousada. It turned out to be both awesome and quaint.
A hammock at the front, which you can sit in and read, while small monkeys play in the trees above. The pousada host was friendly, if not a little deaf, so he didn’t quite understand every question, but happily responded to whichever question he thought he heard.
The place was charming. The only downside to pousadas are that they are not as easy to meet other people as at the youth hostels, but then again, you do get your own room, and no one tries to have sex in the bunk above while you sleep. Hehe. Ahhh hostel life…
The island has an interesting history, and was once a leper colony, and also contained a number of prisons. Oh to be trapped in paradise! The unsavory past has helped it’s future though, as the island remained largely undeveloped.
While on Ilha Grande, which is as close to a natural ecosystem that you can still access, there’s plenty to do. Schooner trips, diving, surfing, hiking along the many trails, and bathing in the waterfalls just to name a few…
This island should definitely be added to anyone’s Brazil travel itinerary without hesitation.