Fernando de Noronha, Brazil – 03° 50′ 25.3″ S – 032° 24′ 38.9″ W (UTC-2)
After several requests on “what about Fernando de Noronha”, over the last years I decided to publish my experience and contacts to the Captains who would be interested to cross via Noronha. I had the privilege to sail eight times to the island, and hereby my notes on Noronha….
Info on the Galapagos islands will follow in the near future.
The island is located on the crossroad of the Southern- and the Northern- Atlantic Ocean. I did stop there when sailing from Cape Town to the Caribbean, Caribbean to Brazil, or from Europe to the Caribbean. Sailing from Fernando to the Caribbean is as being on a slide once reaching the North Brazil Current, which pushes with 3-4 knots in favour, before even putting up sails. The minor meteorological concerns in the doldrums also gives the opportunity for “Neptune” to come onboard and convert all these polliwogs into shellbacks once and for all.
When people ask me about my favourite spots in the world, I must admit that Fernando is ranked in my top three. An authentic oceanic island atmosphere surrounded by marine wildlife in the middle of the Atlantic is my cup of tea. The memories of spinner dolphins bow-riding our dinghy upon landing was a blessing after the long days at sea. These resident dolphins can even be seen from the shore at sunset at “Bahia dos Porcos”. It seems that is where they spend the night and leave again in the morning generally towards the smaller island at the NE.
The circa 3000 inhabitants, generally spontaneous and rather laid-back, generate a friendly atmosphere. This cool surfers’ island definitely has a special vibe to offer to an adventurous and sportive public. No large hotel infrastructure, but small familiar pousadas are available in case you want to spend the nights ashore. The daily permit fees to visit the island are expensive for Brazilians, which is why I consider it to be a spot for a wealthier and active Brazilian public. This remote destination (300Nm. of mainland Brazil) is fairly unknown to the international public. Colours are omnipresent, which is not only valid for the flora but also for the flashy coloured rental buggies and pousadas.
I have been a diver for years, and for sure I would recommend the Maldives or the French Polynesia as some of the best diving destinations of the world. But I must admit that diving in Noronha is exciting and worth it. If you have time to do multiple dives, the operators will bring you to more interesting dive sites, which can be an wilderness and adventurous experience. Turtles, large schools of barracudas or jacks, and several species of rays and sharks can be encountered daily.
Noronha became an official port of entry of Brazil, which did not used to be like that. You can therefore arrive and depart from Brazil with the vessel by doing all clearance on the island now. The process is easy and therefore recommend not to hire the expensive agents that would fly in from Recife or Natal to charge you accordingly for something you can do personally on the peer.
If someone needs to fly in or out, the options for connecting airports are Natal or Recife.
If any interest in other ports in Brazil from there, I would take note of the following;
North: Fortaleza has quite safe facilities at the Marina Park Hotel. In Recife you have the Cabanga yacht club for smaller yachts. For the larger vessels you will end up on the ISPS peer in Natal- or Recife- port, for which you might end up paying significant money due to the obligation of an agent and possible hire of security guards.
South: you should sail down to Salvador de Bahia (Bahia Marina), Rio de Janeiro, Angra dos Reis…. Beware that if you stay in Brazil you will have to redo some of the paperwork at the police in every state you sail to. (Fernando de Noronha is part of the state of Pernambuco).
Paperwork and estimated fees (2018):
You will see a little wooden office on top of the hill when in the port, where you can do all formalities with the Port Captain (Marcos), also the park administration officials and the military police (who handle immigration) will join in.
IMMIGRATION (Policia Federal): will issue the “Passe de Entra,da de embarcação”. Passport needs to be valid 6 months. Some passports such as US or Australians will require a 90 days visa to enter Brazil. (check immigration webpage for updates).
CUSTOMS (Receita Federal)
HEALTH AUTHORITIES (Vigilancia Sanitaria): We did print a yellow fever list of crew and pax., which has not always been requested. Beware that when sailing from Brazil to the Caribbean most islands (commonwealth especially) will require yellow fever when coming from Brazil.
PORT AUTHORITIES (Capitania dos Portos) will finalize the entry and emit the “zarpe” when leaving the island to your next port of call.
Fees: anchorage fee, a tourist tax and a marine park fee (Cash Reals or Credit Card only, no US$).
ANCHOR FEE: charged for anchoring your vessel as from the day you arrive at 226.4 Reals/day (75$US), charged per calendar day (not per night), and therefore early morning departure exempts.
TOURIST TAX: not charged for the first day, but thereafter is 68.74 Reals pp/day (23 $US).
MARINE PARK FEE: To access the Marine Park you will need to buy a Marine National Park card which costs 198 Reals/pp. (65$US) and is valid for 10 days. This gives you access to the best beaches, although there are also a number of free beaches not in the Marine Park, and therefore it is not a mandatory fee. The park run by Projecto TAMAR; a non-profit organization representing the protected areas of the island, which is about 60% of the island. If you want to go diving, you will have to pay that fee and you will need a photocopy of your passport to purchase the card.
Approach to the island
Anchor in 15 to 20m over sand (and rock). You generally have a small roll when blowing from the NE or N and even more when coming from NW. Careful with the small floating mooring balls in the anchorage of Baia de Santo Antonio, for which arrival at nigh might be more challenging. Once anchored it is convenient to call the port authorities to confirm your presence through CH12. Beware of the little shipwreck just at the entrance of the harbour (it is normally marked), when you come in with the dinghy (great snorkel place :). There is no way to enter the port with your vessel, so you will need max. 6-8 min. by dinghy from the anchorage.
I became friends with Paulo and Claudio over 10 years ago now through the REFENO regatta as they are also fanatic sailors. In addition to owning several pousadas on the island, in case you need a place to stay ashore, they also are the owners and operators of Noronha Diver since a few years now. They are well-connected and helpful in many ways. Paulo’s’ girlfriend; Maristela, is running the office of Noronha Diver in the port and is who you should take contact with for further questions or requests. +55 81-9988-08101 (whatsapp)
Port Santo Antonio: CH12
Hours: Mon to Fri 08:00-12: 00 and 14: 00-18: 00
Phone: +55 81-3619-0967
email: email@example.com (It is appreciated to send them an email some days prior your arrival so they know, but do not expect an answer).
Local Police: +55 81-3619-0842
Hospital: Hospital São Lucas
Hours Medical Specialties: Mon To Fri 08:00-12: 00 and 14: 00-18: 00
Care Emergency Department 24 hours. – Phone: +55 81-3619-0923
National SAR agency:
MRCC Brazil – Tel: +55 21-2104-6056 – Inmarsat C: 471009910
Regards, Capt. Dominique Geysen