It sounds dumb and silly, and it was, but I made my first trip to Fernando de Noronha at the age of 44, in the middle of a pandemic and on New Year’s Eve.
As a Brazilian lady, because Noronha is considered one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, and Praia do Sancho is always on the list of the most beautiful beaches. It is in our Brazil. I even went to Tahiti with my mother (I did a full review of the trip on this blog) and had never been to Noronha.
I had some prejudices.
Noronha is considered perhaps the most expensive place in Brazil, because everything comes by boat. Rumors said that a bottle of water in the pandemic was 28 reais (around whopping 6 dollars). In addition, in recent years Noronha has become the darling of global artists, gaining the dubious fame of “Noronha’s surubão” aka orgy.
It is also known to be a“perrengue chic”. Perrengue in Brazil means struggle. Chic because it is expensive, perrengue because all natural beauty is not like Maldives and Tahiti, because it requires a certain effort and physical conditioning to reach the beaches. Everything is rustic and precarious there: few options for shopping and transportation, and there is no incredible offer of accommodation, only the very High or Low, with inns between the eco chic and the millionaires millionaires and the slums fishermen´s houses.
Well, armed with a good dose of courage and madness, I closed my New Year’s Eve trip 4 months in advance with a group I barely knew.
And it ended up being an incredible trip. Partly by the group, partly because Noronha is really something unique in Brazil.
Below, I list what is myth and what is true in Surub. Oops on the hype of Noronha. No glamorous or rancid glitches (yes, because I had a hell of a rancid Noronha before I even went…. Lodging without breakfast, expensive fees to enter the island, compulsory Covid test 48 hours before departure, changes in flights, it seemed like everything was conspiring for me not to go to Noronha (thankfully I insisted. The strong survive and live!)
MYTH – Noronha is a mess to arrive.
It’s nothing. Anyone who has been to Boipeba or Tahiti not know what perrengue is.
Perrengue I had because the damn airlines and travel keep changing flights without warning. 123 miles is terrible and I don’t recommend it to anyone. As much as it was Azul’s fault, they were the ones who solved my problem. To sum up, 3 flight changes on the way and one on the return. You only know if you are going to travel at the last minute.
Other than that, from São Paulo it is a 3 hour flight to Recife and another one hour to Fernando de Noronha. Disembarked, take a taxi (or a free van) that takes you in 5 minutes to your hostel / hotel. Very calm. I left at 8 am and arrived at 3 pm in Noronha (counting that it has a time zone of 1 hour more on the island).
Golden Tip: on the outward flight, be sure to reserve a seat on the left side of the plane. You will already have a magnificent view of the island when the plane is approaching in Noronha.
MYTH – AND TRUTH – NORONHA IS VERY EXPENSIVE
In quotes. Noronha is expensive, but it is not all that terrifies us.
Average price of what I paid in the middle of a pandemic, in the most expensive period of the year (New Year’s Eve)
Water (in the supermarket) 3 reais one bottle (less than 1 dollar)
soda, Beer in bars and beach kiosks – 10 to 20 reais each. (around 4 to 5 dollars)
Caipiroskas and cocktails – 25 to 40 reais (around 8 dollars)
Executive Plate PF at Maezinha – 35 reais (around 7 dollars)
Average dishes in most of the good restaurants on the island (dada, Mergulhão, Varanda, Xica da Silva) – 95 to 120 reais. It is what you pay in a good restaurant in SP or Trancoso, with a very dignified quality! (around 20 dollars)
Onibus – free and takes you to the most of the island’s sights
Buggy rental – 350 reais per day
Taxi – usually 20 to 40 reais per leg
Chair and umbrella rental – Conceição – 50 reais the Cacimba do Padre kit – 100 reais
Tours – 200 to 300 reais (200 the day tripa round the island, 300 for boat ride for 4 hours, 180 an Hawaian canoe, and private guide to most distant trekkings.
Fees – I paid 646 reais for 10 days of Noronha’s environmental preservation fee (this fee is per day and gets more expensive if you stay longer – over 10 days it grows disproportionately) and 111 reais one-time entrance fee to environmental parks ( Southeast, Sancho) valid for 10 days.
Accommodation – I stayed in a very simple inn and without breakfast (Pousada do Guilherme) with cleaning servisse every 2 days. It left 140 per day per person in a quadruple room. But the owner gave us the kitchen to make breakfast (we saved a lot) and everything was working fine, from the air conditioning to the decent box bed, as well as being super well located, very close to the center of the island .
My friend got a double room at 350 reais with last minute breakfast, but further away from the Center.
So, my verdict – it’s expensive, but not so much. It doesn’t even reach the feet of the millionaire Tahiti and going hand in hand with Trancoso in restaurant price values. What really catches are the taxis (expensive for the short distance traveled and pre-arranged rates) and the daily prices and little things, which really raise Noronha to be expensive for tourists on tight budgets. Supermarket is really something very expensive, mainly for beer and soda. Fruits and vegetables are poor (they were the same for the 10 days I stayed on the Island) and I paid an absurd Gatorade 14 reais at Entrada do Sancho.
However, it is not absurd. Water was 3 reais, I paid a delicious caipirinha for 15 reais and incredible octopus broth at the Porto beach kiosk for 20 reais. I did a lot of shopping for cool things like t-shirts with good cotton, charming sarongs in trendy stores. It is not cheap, but of better quality and variety than Trancoso, for example.
NATURAL BEAUTIES AND struggles to go (perrengue)
Well, it’s a mess but not sooooo.
I agree that for elderly people with leg and knee problems it can be a problem. but for young people like us, it’s not impossible.
For Sancho, the iron staircases are not so frightening, but we pack them with backpacks and snorkel equipment. Then to go up then, get tired after swimming is truly tiring. And as we went in December, the sea was very stirred and we had several falls (best to go in september or october).
To get to the iconic photo of Baia dos Porcos and 2 irmãos, there is a hill on the way. To get to the natural pools, you walk through sharp stones. Nothing like a good dose of attention to not smash into the stones, because then it will hurt badly.
To go to Atalaia’s natural pool, a 30-minute walk, but nothing too exhaustive.
Ok, it’s not like the Maldives and Tahiti and Caribbean resorts that beauty is right at your feet, but you can go. Really the beaches where you arrive by taxi are nothing much (Conceição, Cacimba, Porto) and really to take those breathtaking photos you have to take a power walk.
However, the view is breathtaking and compete with the best beaches in the Caribbean and French Polynesia. And at Porto beach, I took a snorkel and saw several small sharks and 2 huge turtles in the shallows.
And both on the boat trip (which I did in the afternoon) and in the Hawaiian canoe that I did at 8 am, I saw many dolphins. It’s really emotional. Nature screams and God exists.
In terms of marine life and sea color, Noronha is the first place in Brazil, without a doubt.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST – SURUBÃO WHERE IN NORONHA?
This is the plague of my married friends who don’t take anything anymore and then they are buzzing the poor singles. When I said that I was going to Noronha for New Year’s Eve, I was pillaged that Noronha is a surubão (fame given to some supposed orgies of global artists).
I didn’t see any surubão there. In fact, flirting zero. My class went from zero to zero and talking to other women, the same thing. Everyone in your class without a flirtatious mood (maybe because of a pandemic mood?).
I certainly will go back to Noronha. Verdict: there is no sea with shades of blue and green like Noronha and you eat very fresh and good seafood there. It´s hot, but there is Always the sea breeze . Expensive maybe, but not absurd. We survive. And life is only one so as not to know the paradises of the Earth.