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360km (223 miles) NE of Natal, 545km (337 miles) NE of Recife

High season in Fernando de Noronha is in July, and December through March, especially the time between Reveillon (New Year's Eve) and Carnaval. Pousadas fill up, and prices for everything rise. In low season (all other times) prices are slightly more reasonable and bargaining is possible -- though Fernando de Noronha is still pricier than the rest of Brazil.

Getting There

Both Gol (tel. 0300/115-2121; www.voegol.com.br) and TRIP (tel. 0300/789-8747; www.voetrip.com.br) have flights to Noronha. The Aeroporto Fernando de Noronha (tel. 081/3619-1633) is in the island's center, a R$25 taxi ride from anywhere.

Island Layout

The main island, Ilha de Fernando de Noronha, has two distinct sides, a gentle one facing the Brazilian coast and a rockier, rougher one facing the Atlantic. The inshore coast is the place for surfing and lazing on the beach. The offshore beach is for watching the waves crash in.

One paved road, BR-363, runs from Baía do Sueste at one end of the island to the port in Baía Santo Antonio at the other. The most settled area on Noronha is Vila dos Remédios. This is where you'll find the city hall, the church, the old fort, the only bar/disco, the post office, and the offices of Atlantis Divers. Up a small hill about 1km (1/2 mile) away is Vila do Trinta. This area has a couple of restaurants, the police, pharmacy, and main grocery store all together inside the walls of the old armory. Porto Santo Antonio has several watersports operators and a few restaurants and pubs. The hospital, school, and other services for locals are located on BR-363 in the middle of the island. The old American army base at Alameda do Boldró has boring necessary stuff like the power station and the water plant, but it also has the Tamar Visitor Center, which features a small museum where they hold nightly nature talks.

Getting Around

By Bus -- Public minibuses depart at 30-minute intervals from opposite ends of the island, running along the main highway (BR-363) from Baía Sueste to Porto Santo Antonio with stops along the way. The bus runs from 5am to 10pm. Cost is R$3.25.

By Taxi -- Chances are, wherever you go on the island there'll be a taxi ponto with a buggy driver waiting for your business. Should you find yourself unaccountably taxiless, NorTax (tel. 081/3619-1314) will dispatch a buggy from its fleet. Prices for all drivers are fixed according to a table, which the driver will be happy to flash in your face should you utter so much as a peep about the cost. The fare from Vila dos Remédios to Baía do Sueste on the far end of the island costs about R$35; from Vila Remédios to the Tamar Visitor Center is R$20; from Vila Remédios to the port, R$15.

Renting a Dune Buggy -- Tooling around back roads to various beaches is one of the most fun things to do on the island. Buggies can be rented just about anywhere -- ask at your pousada. LocBuggy (tel. 081/3619-1490; www.locbuggy.com.br) provides 24-hour service, and also rents motorcycles, 4*4s, and powerboats. Other agencies include Locadora Morro do Farol (tel. 081/9967-8887; www.locadoramorrodofarol.com.br) in Al. Boldro, and Locadora Marlin in Remédios (tel. 081/3619-1223). A driver's license is not required. The price is currently R$125 per day, though if you rent for several days you can often get a 10% to 20% discount. The cost is the same with or without driver. Gas costs about R$5 per liter (about US$10 per gallon). A day of exploring around the island will eat up about half a tank, currently about R$75.

Visitor Information

The official government website, www.noronha.pe.gov.br, has an English-language version with much useful information. Free maps of the island (with English text) are available in pamphlet racks at the airport. An intermittently staffed and not very useful tourist information office is on the lower floor of the Palácio São Miguel (city hall) in the island's largest town, Vila Remédios (tel. 081/3619-1378). There's good information on the island's natural history at the Projeto Tamar office at Av. do Boldró s/n (tel. 081/3619-1171; www.tamar.org.br).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.