Why go? Some 350km adrift from the Brazilian mainland, and a smidgen south of the equator, the Fernando de Noronha archipelago is a 21-island eco-paradise. The waters are impossibly emerald, the ethos equally green – 70% of Noronha is protected in a national park, and visitors must pay a mandatory Environment Protection Tax on arrival. UNESCO also approves, having inscribed the archipelago on its list for its rich waters (which are ‘extremely important for the breeding and feeding of tuna, shark and turtle’) and its avifauna – Noronha is home to the largest concentration of tropical seabirds in the Western Atlantic. It’s also just a beautiful place to be. The water is full of frolicking spinner dolphins and (allegedly) friendly lemon and nurse sharks. There are also abundant reef fish; some are nice to swim with, others turn up at delicious beach barbecues. The hiking is good too: hit the Esmeralda Coast Trail to spot diving pelican or trek to Pedra Alta Little Point, site of Brazil’s first shipwreck.
When to go: The dry and high season is September-March. Maximum temperatures average in the high 20°Cs year round. Turtle nesting and hatching season is December-July.
How to go: Flights to Noronha leave from Natal (1hr) and Recife (1hr) on the mainland.