Fernando de Noronha

While religion, science and philosophy continue to battle out what happens when we die, in Brazil there is little discourse on the subject: heaven plays second fiddle to the 21-island Fernando de Noronha archipelago. Located in the Atlantic, 326 miles (525km) from Recife and 217 miles (350km) from Natal, Noronha's natural beauty holds its own against any tropical locale in the world. With crystal-clear waters, rich marine life – including the highest known concentration of resident dolphins in the world – and spectacular tropical landscapes, it’s in a Brazilian class all of its own. The country’s ‘beach bible,’ Guia Quatro Rodas Praias, awards five stars to just five beaches in the whole country – and three are right here.

It's the perfect place to get away from the crowds and do very little at all. Not that there's a shortage of activities; hikes along deserted beaches, snorkeling with turtles and sailing cruises await those visitors who manage to get up off their towels.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Fernando de Noronha.