Brazil’s Island Paradise – Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

Brazil’s Island Paradise

Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

A view of Sancho Bay
A view of Sancho Bay
Fernando de Noronha is a treasure in the midst of the South Atlantic. It falls four degrees below the equator and is roughly 500 kilometres off the northeastern coast of Brazil. It has a tropical climate and is considered the “most important ecological sanctuary”. As Flight RG 2342 began its descent, the passengers peered through the windows trying to get a glimpse of the island. Once on the tarmac, everyone rushed towards the arrival area.

Conversations echoed within this tiny space. It seemed that a majority of the travellers had pre-booked a packaged tour. Alone, the calmness that was shielding any angst slowly began to dissolve. A woman with dark hair that was pulled back tightly checked my passport and determined the amount of tax I owed for visiting Noronha – $96.38 reais. Then, to another queue to pay.

The final destination was baggage claim, where a set of double doors confined me to an overcrowded room where people anxiously awaited their luggage. Ironically, my deep blue backpack arrived almost immediately. It was difficult to bend down and retrieve my belongings, but necessity forced a reaction.

Outside, there were twenty or so bodies clamored together. Most were holding signs with company logos or surnames. It was hopeless scanning any of these because none would result in a match. The next step was unclear. Some intervention was necessary.

The events that unfolded were quick. A case of mistaken identity led to an offer for a room located in Floresta Nova. Those native to the island rented out rooms in their homes for extra income. Within a half hour, a set of keys was in my hand, along with a map. The first order of business was easing the grumbling sounds murmuring inside my stomach. Unfortunately, the village had a large concentration of residences and guesthouses.

Remédios Village was in walking distance and had an array of restaurants. On a backpacker budget, the prices did not coincide with my available funds. The local supermarket was small but included a deli, providing the necessary staples for a good sandwich.

An early night led to an early morning. At a loss as to where to find affordable tours, my only plan was getting the bus and heading to the tourist information office. An independent guide in a dune buggy intercepted me. Although communication was difficult because my Portuguese was not yet conversational, we did reach an agreement.

After renting snorkeling gear, it was off to explore the island. The hiking trail beginning at Quixaba Village was lined with striking trees, tall and lusciously green. It was a short walk to Golfinhos Bay, a lookout point, perched on a cliff. The Atlantic Ocean in this particular spot served as a coupling and resting area for dolphins. We sat on a wooden bench, staring out into the deep blue mass of water that stretched out until it touched the sky.

The Dois Irmaos Mount
The Dois Irmaos Mount
We continued forward towards Sancho Bay, the number one ranked beach in Brazil. From afar, it was mesmerizing. Soft gold sand bordered transparent water with a turquoise tint. It appeared unscathed, calm and celestial. Directly above the beach, the distance between the cliff and sea level was almost 40 metres. A ladder, strategically placed between a split rock seemed intimidating, but had less than 20 steps followed by a second one with about ten. Then it was a steep climb down a set of stairs.

On arrival, the water appeared sensually refreshing. There were no sunbathers, each onlooker had accepted the silent invitation of the ocean and was swimming or snorkeling. Naturally, we did the same, entering the ocean to revel in the mystic world created by the reefs. It was surreal; all the fluorescent shades of fish set against a seemingly pure bed of sand, rock and water.

There was one more stop before completing the excursion, Porcos Bay. Set against dark stones, it was just as enticing but difficult to reach. Opposite was the Dois Irmãos Mount, two similar rock formations.

The next day we began another adventure. Again we hiked; this time the weather was a little unstable, as periods of heavy rained forced us to seek protection under bushes. Our destination was Atalaia Beach, which has a natural swimming pool. A national reserve, the area is allowed 100 visitors a day. As it was Sunday, most tours went only until midday. We reached our destination just a little past twelve. A group of twenty people were leaving and the park ranger, my guide’s uncle, advised us that we were the only two left.

A memory that will always withstand time, me, alone again, except for Charlie (my guide), swimming through the protected pool. A paradise for the pleasure of one person is such a rare occurrence. On this day, life was perfect.

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