September 6, 2011

Fernando de Noronha – The Island Jewel of Brazil

My first time in the island paradise of Fernando de Noronha was in 2004, and since my inaugural visit I have returned time and again. It is one of Brazil’s most exclusive destinations. I fell more in love with this untouched island oasis with every day of my stay, and I am sure you will too.

The island and her surrounding territory are a protected national marine conservation park and are designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The archipelago is made up of 22 incredible islands and is home to the largest concentration of tropical seabirds to be found in the Western Atlantic. Its rich waters are teeming with marine biodiversity and are vital in their production.

Tropical seabird

Sustainable tourism is a priority in this ecological sanctuary. The local government agencies only allow 460 people to visit the island at one time. A small environmental preservation tax is charged to all tourists by IBAMA (The Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources). This leads to not only a pristine ambiance, but also an exclusive and romantic getaway.

There is only one paved road on the island extending for 7 kilometers. Most everything in Noronha is accessible via walking or hiking along marked trails. Or you can always take a guided horseback ride to hidden beaches.

You can easily hike from one deserted beach to the next.

I suggest you take a 4×4 island tour on your first morning in Fernando de Noronha. It gives you perspective and information regarding all of its most stunning locations from friendly local guides. My first island tour was in the back of an open air jeep, and I must admit that some of my morning was spent eating the red dust from the dirt roads. Now almost 7 years later, there are many different options from a dune buggy to luxury Land Rover to experience the islands top spots.

The island boasts endless deserted beaches and lagoons. My favorite beach is Baia do Sancho and will literally take your breath away. The sand is like suntanned powder between your toes. The various black volcanic rocks dot the edges of the horizon and link the emerald green waters with open blue sky.

Incredible view of Baia do Sancho where dolphins like to swim in the late afternoon.

I personally am a scuba diving fanatic, so I spent much of my time on the island underwater. I encountered so many types of colorful fish, manta rays, huge fluorescent moray eels, sharks, sea tortoises, and spinner dolphins galore! It is truly an aquarium for people with pristine and clear waters. Visibility can get up to 125 meters and it is a snorkelers and divers paradise.

Scuba diving with spinner dolphins is an unforgettable experience!

There are many options for activities such as horseback riding, renting a dune buggy, sailing trips, historical walking tours including a visit to the historic Fort Nossa Senhora dos Remédios, sea kayaking, or surfing.

Pristine water surrounds you on a cruise around the base of “Two Brothers” islands.

In short, Noronha is pure relaxation in a secluded vacation paradise. You can spend your days exploring deserted beaches and relishing a swim in the cool clear waters. In the evening, return to your exclusive eco-friendly hotel and watch the sunset over the ocean from the open air restaurant.

Fernando de Noronha allows you the opportunity to experience some of Brazil’s most beautiful beaches in a pristine environment. It is easy to slip into island time and find yourself not wanting to leave.

Contact Green Roots Travel to experience an exclusive island holiday in Fernando de Noronha.

July 8, 2011

Off the beaten path – Praia da Pipa, Brazil

Summer is here and many of us are dreaming of endless stretches of beaches to relax and enjoy the sunshine.  Well, with the longest continuous coastline in the world, Brazil is the ideal beach haven for travelers!

Luckily, Brazil is a year round vacation destination. The seasons in Brazil are reversed from those of the Northern Hemisphere.  So right now it is “winter” in Brazil.  But since the northeast of the country is within 3 degrees of the equator, the weather in this region is always very warm and tropical.

Welcome to the stunning tropical northeast of Brazil!

One of my absolute favorite destinations in the northeast of Brazil is called Praia da Pipa, which means “Kite Beach”.  Just a few decades ago, the first visitors here were surfers in search of perfect waves and a simple life.  But, rumors of its paradisiacal location and laid-back atmosphere inevitably lead to Pipa’s discovery by more lovers of authentic travel in Brazil.

Praia da Pipa boasts incredible scenery from every angle.

Located about an hours drive south of the city of Natal, this once small fishing village has grown into a charming beachside town drawing international tourists from all walks of life.   Natal’s airport receives daily flights from Europe and all of Brazil’s major cities.

While Pipa’s inviting beach vibe is hardly a secret, it is still very much off of the mainstream tourists path.  There are only a few roads that will lead you through the village of Tibau do Sul to get there.  But if you’re not good at reading signs in Portuguese, then I suggest you hire one of the friendly local guides to help you find your way.

Pipa is known as a global village and you will meet travelers from all over the world at the main beach.

Have your camera ready because the scenery here is stunning and will leave you with you mouth temporarily agape. Your first impression of Pipa is from the west looking down from the blazing pink sandstone cliffs topped with lush green vegetation.  Far below you emerald green waves lap against endless soft sandy beaches.  So much adventure and relaxation awaits you while traveling in Brazil!

Take a paragliding adventure and experience Pipa from above!

Pipa is an outdoor lovers paradise boasting great surf conditions, calm pools for snorkeling, perfect winds for kite surfing, tropical nature trails for hiking, and even its very own Ecological Nature Reserve.  Every day presents a new opportunity to discover a different deserted Brazilian beach.

Pipa’s Praia do Amor or ‘Beach of Love’ is great for surfing and relaxing.

Keep your eyes open for the local dolphins that call this coastline home.  Check the tide tables and take an early morning hike to the Praia dos Golfinhos (Dolphin Beach) where you can swim with the dolphins as they play in the early morning surf.  You can hire a dune buggy to escape on your own over the practically endless supply some of Brazil’s best beaches.  Then take a traditional Brazilian schooner cruise in the evening to watch the sunset melt into the ocean.

Sunset at the entrance to the village of Tibau do Sul just north of Pipa.

Praia da Pipa’s character is both charming and unique.  Its cobblestone streets wind up from the beach passing cafes, inns, and boutique shops.  There is no shortage of great dining options here.  Pipa has drawn such an eclectic group of inhabitants that the restaurant scene is surprisingly good for such a small out of the way town.  You can experience regional Brazilian food, as well as a variety of international cuisine.  Pipa is actually host to the international Gastronomy Festival drawing more than 1,000 participants every October.

Your hammock awaits!

Whether you are looking for a luxury boutique hotel for a romantic escape, or if an eco-friendly guesthouse is more your style, Pipa has it all.

The perfect way to end a day of hiking along the coast is to sunbath poolside with champagne in hand.

I am almost afraid to let the secret of Praia da Pipa out! But alas, a place as special as this must be shared.  Let Green Roots Travel plan your Brazil travel, so that you too can enjoy this enchanting coastal village.

What are you waiting for? Come experience Praia da Pipa with Green Roots Travel!

Images and text are copyrighted
by Green Roots Travel

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