Camila Coelho revels in the beauty of her native Brazil’s most stunning island.
If it’s paradise you’re looking for, Fernando de Noronha—known as Noronha to Brazilians—comes exceedingly close. An archipelago of 21 islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the Brazilian coast, Fernando de Noronha boasts pristine turquoise waters, commanding rock formations and deserted bisque beaches—and only one island is inhabited by a small population of 5,000 people, making you feel as though you’ve washed ashore on the next best thing to a deserted island Though the populace is small, the people’s spirit and culture are outsized—which is part of what draws Camila Coelho to the tiny isle’s shores again and again.
If seemingly untouched beaches, panoramic views, live music and tasty Caipirihas sound enticing, Fernando de Noronha could be your next travel destination. Here, Coelho shares why Noronha holds a special place in her heart, her favorite spots to frequent and her best tips for this little Brazilian oasis.
Wander to Fernando de Noronha
“Fernando De Noronha is a place that every Brazilian wants to visit one day. I grew up hearing about it and dreaming of one day visiting, as most Brazilians do! I can easily say it’s the most desirable spot in the country. I visited Noronha for the first time in 2016 for New Year’s with friends, and I haven’t traveled anywhere else for New Year’s since—and the same goes for my friends.”
“Noronha has it all; it’s really for everyone. It’s the perfect honeymoon spot, but also an excellent place to go with a group of friends for a fun time. Even at the most crowded time of the year (New Year’s Eve), you can still find quiet beaches and spots to enjoy with your loved one, and super fun spots for when you feel like partying! You’ll find both deserted beaches and beaches with bars, live music and amazing food.”
What to Bring
“A lot of bikinis, sunscreen and flat shoes. I never wear heels in Noronha. The vibe is super chill; you can show up to a party in flip-flops and no one will care!”
“You have to fly to either Recife or Natal airports, both northeast of Brazil. From Los Angeles, I usually fly to São Paulo, then Recife and then Noronha. It seems like a lot of flights, but the internal ones are quick and worth every second when you arrive in paradise!”
“Make sure to rent a ‘Boogie’ a four-wheel off-roader, instead of a regular car; it will make your experience completely different. Also, in Noronha, rather than hotels, you’ll stay in Pousadas, which translates to ‘villas.’ They’re very rustic—I call it the ‘new luxury’—and they bring to the forefront the vibe and culture of the island. But Noronha really isn’t about the hotels. The island is so beautiful and there’s so much to explore that you don't want to waste time staying in your hotel pool or room. I'm the type of person that loves staying at hotels when I travel, so for me to say this is rare!”
“I have so many memories, and I truly mean it. But the Boogie rides on dirt roads to the beaches, with all of the beautiful views and the wind blowing on my face and hair, is one of my favorite things about Noronha—I feel like a free little bird, disconnected from the world. I also love watching the sunset at a deserted beach with my husband, or taking a boat ride and seeing hundreds of dolphins swim with us.”
Places to Stay
“Morena has one of the most beautiful pool views on the island, the food is incredible, it’s small and private, and the rooms are gorgeous with amazing views. Dolphin is the perfect spot to go with all of your friends. The owners recently renovated it, so the rooms are new, and I love that it has a boutique vibe as well. The pool has an amazing view with live music and the food is so good—and they do late-night room service, too.”
Where to Eat
“For my favorite traditional Brazilian meals I go to Varanda. You have to try the pastel (thin-crust pastry); it’s so delicious! The vibe is chill—perfect to go right after the beach. If you want a romantic night or to watch the sunset, visit Mergulhao. The view is stunning and the food is spectacular! They offer great seafood dishes and traditional Brazilian dishes, but I suggest trying the picadinho, a Brazilian beef stew as a main and the linguica pork sausage as a starter.”
“One of the things I love the most about this island is that you can truly feel the culture of Brazil: simplicity, beauty and warmth.”
Where to Go Outdoors
“Cacimba Beach is the perfect beach to go and lay out. It has an iconic view, a great vibe, it never becomes overwhelmed with people, and it also connects you to Baia dos Porcos, a little private beach that you have to see. Cacimba forms natural pools, too, where you can swim. You’ll have hike to it, but it’s super worth it!”
Where to Play
“Bar do Meio is a must visit. It has the most iconic sunset view on the island. The best time to go is late afternoon. Grab bites and drinks as you watch the sun go down. They also play live music, so a fun night is guaranteed! Try the queijo coalho cheese skewers and sip on any of their flavored Caipirihas—I promise you’ll be obsessed!”
Where to Shop
“The Neuronha Store carries the coolest beach ‘sun-proof’ shirts, beach hats and accessories!”
Top “Must Do”
“Take a day trip to Sancho Beach. Bring a camera and backpack with water and snacks as there is no infrastructure at this beach. Your trip starts with the most amazing view of the island, and then you climb down to the actual beach where you’ll end up in a paradise that you’ve never experienced before. You can only get to this beach by boat or climbing. Once there, you’re surrounded by a perfect turquoise ocean and huge rocks—it kind of feels like Game of Thrones in paradise!”
Secluded yet vibrant, Fernando de Noronha serves up an experience for those in search of adventure as well as relaxation. Visit the island once, and Coelho swears you won’t be able to resist returning.