In the latest installment of our "last minute planning, first-rate results" series, we head 200 miles off the coast of Brazil to the island of Fernando de Noronha. We'd originally planned to head further south to the beach town of Florianopolis, but an article we saw a few weeks ago about the glittering beaches of Fernando grabbed our attention.
Several of the beaches on Fernando de Noronha typically make top 10 lists of beaches in the world, and 3 out of the top 5 beaches in Brazil all lie on this tiny stretch of land on the way to Africa. This is where Brazil goes to relax—what could be better?
Eco-tourism done right
The island is indeed a paradise, but more importantly, it's an exquisitely well-cared for paradise. You can't use a tap or take a shower without a reminder to conserve the island's precious fresh water, and steep penalties are in place to prevent humans from disturbing the local fauna. Getting caught cooking up one of the island's colorful crabs will set you back R$5000 (~$1650 US at the current rate). We let the crabs win...this time...and settled for photos.
Nearly all of the island's beaches are protected by the national park service, whose regulations require that you purchase an ID card and swipe into the beaches each day. It was definitely an extra step we weren't accustomed to, but the totally pristine, litter-free, and uncrowded beaches that result were worth it.
Around the island
Toward the beginning of the trip, we decided to take an island tour to get our bearings and check out the biggest sites. We beach-buggied with Kevin, our guide, over to Dois Irmãos, the most famous of the many postcard-ready scenes the island offers.
We had a little less luck with the beach buggy as we pulled up to lunch. Thankfully, Kevin made a few calls and we were ready to hit the road again in no time.
Wildlife, emphasis on wild
Both on our tour and in our own explorations, we found we pretty much couldn't go anywhere without seeing an animal that lives exclusively on Fernando de Noronha. Unique species of lizards, rodents, and birds all call this isolated island home.
We also encountered one extremely rare species, the Island Nina.
It looks a lot like a small to medium fluffy white dog, but appearances can be deceiving. In actuality, the Nina is a humanoid creature with an extremely gregarious personality and needle sharp teeth which she uses to chomp on hibiscus flowers she finds laying around. The exotic natural wonders of Fernando de Noronha never cease to amaze.
The dramatic skyline, great eats, and famous beaches of Rio de Janeiro.