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Fernando de Noronha: Marketing vs Reality

Dallas, Texas
Level Contributor
1 post
20 reviews
Fernando de Noronha: Marketing vs Reality

With a lot of publicity as a "tropical paradise" teeming with marine life, and high prices including special taxes and ID cards just to be on the island, our expectations were obviously very high. After four days on the island we concluded that although it is a very nice place with very nice beaches, there are many other tropical islands with much easier access and perhaps just as good views and marine life. For snorkeling, there is no comparison with Great Barrier Reef or even with some of the well known places on the Mexican and Caribbean coasts. There is much less here.

Part of the mystique appears to be that Brazilians, without going outside of Brazil, have Fernando de Noronha as the only place to have an "island" experience. Also, the restrictions on working and living there, even for Brazilians, creates a special attraction just to go there. But it creates artificial labor shortage which is reflected in the prices and level of service that is available to tourists.

Some "island hoppers' would love it because it is exotic and hard to get to. Brazil has other beautiful spots in the north and northeast if one just wants a beach experience. And they are a lot cheaper. My advice is: go there if you have an interest in visiting a nice tropical island but be prepared to pay high prices and face some bureaucratic hassles about access to certain trails and beaches, and keep your expectations in check.

5 replies to this topic
Destination Expert
for Rio de Janeiro
Level Contributor
25,602 posts
28 reviews
1. Re: Fernando de Noronha: Marketing vs Reality

Thanks for your trip report on Fernando de Noronha. It's sure to be particularly helpful to anyone on a limited budget thinking about making a trip to this expensive island.

Sao Paulo, SP
Level Contributor
6,924 posts
2 reviews
2. Re: Fernando de Noronha: Marketing vs Reality

very insightful. and not dissimilar to my own view.

i was glad to have been there, but it is not a value-for-money destination.

interesting tidbit: pregnant women are almost "forbidden" to give birth on the island - any complications in childbirth would mean an air evacuation to Recife and a tab of 35K reais to the local health service. so they are strongly "encouraged" to go to the mainland at 7 months of pregnancy and only come back when baby is born safe and sound.... so barely no one has been born on FN since this policy went into effect in the early 2000s...

Level Contributor
39 posts
58 reviews
3. Re: Fernando de Noronha: Marketing vs Reality

My opinion is different from my fellow posters. To this day, Fernando de Noronha remains as my preferred snorkeling spot - better than much more hyped French Polynesia, for instance. Praia do Sueste, especially. I have seen 7 sharks, 2 lobsters and 3 wild turtles in about one hour snorkeling there, plus the usual tropical fish - experience I could not find elsewhere — granted, I have not been to Great Barrier Reef yet.

As for the beaches proper, I think they are OK. Good, but not that special. Especially Sancho. I think the way to get there is more thrilling than the beach itself.

So, at least regarding snorkeling, I would give FdN another try. The point, of course, with all things wildlife - nothing is guaranteed and keeping expectations in check is the key.

Edited: 25 July 2017, 17:24
State of Sao Paulo
13 posts
4. Re: Fernando de Noronha: Marketing vs Reality

I have never been to the Caribbean or Australia, but I found Noronha very special too. I was there at the end of June for 5 days and really loved it. The Ilha Tour is worth it so you can have an idea of what's there to see, but if you just take time to walk by yourself on the other days you can go to places when there's virtually no one there, like the Ponta das Caracas viewing spot, or the Fort. I don't know how crowded other "paradise" beaches get, but I found Noronha very peaceful, at least in June. I saw at the most about 40 people on the same beach, and many were literally empty. Swimming with the turtles was my highlight.

London, United...
Level Contributor
2 posts
87 reviews
5. Re: Fernando de Noronha: Marketing vs Reality

I so agree with you. Honestly Brazil was kind of expensive but Fernando just exploded our budget. We expected a very simple island, with a few locals, amazing marine life and to be quite alone on the island!

But no, we paid 110£ each to stay 4 days on the island (airport tax + parc entrance), in addition to a very expensive flight (1h flight for 277£ vs 140 to go to Rio from Recife, 3h flight!)

We felt like cash cow. Hotel aren't particularly nice, very few have a ocean view, and are more expensive than any comfy hotel in London! Beaches are nice, but very comparable to the ones in Isla Grande

the marketing excuse, to keep the island preserved is the biggest scam. They rent very expensive and noisy buggy, give plastic bag when you buy a bottle of water, I haven't seen a cow or a goat on the island, they could at least farm some products on the island if they want to "preserve" it.

They treat dogs and cats quite badly, they are extremely skinny, and we saw a dead one on one of the trail...

You have to, in addition to the two taxes you paid, take a guide to visit some areas of the island..

A pizza (paid in cash only, they don't pay taxes themselfves I guess) can go up to 18£ for a margerita.

We have seen the Maldives, Thailand, and the rest of Brazil, we were not impressed and wouldn't recommend anyone to go there.

We mostly saw tacky Brazilian people (I guess the jet set) taking selfy ALL DAY long, asking us to move a bit to the side so they could take their pictures, drinking all day laying on bed on the beaches, and screaming around when driving their noisy buggy

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