The archipelago of Fernando de Noronha with a population of 1500, lies 350km from Natal. The 21 islands of the archipelago cover a total area of only 26 square kilometers. With its crystal-clear water (average water temperature 24°C) and rich marine life, the archipelago is a heavenly retreat for underwater pleasures. It is nowadays a protected national marine park, and the effects of tourism on its fragile ecosystem need to be monitored carefully. Note that the rainy season in the archipelago is from February to July.
The "Pico" hill, the highest point on the main island, is only 321 meters above sea level, it is well over 4300 meters above the ocean floor, as the island is an extinct volcanic cone. The island-mountain is part of the mid-Atlantic ridge, an underwater mountain chain which is over 15,000km long. The islands beaches are clean, beautiful and almost deserted.
The beaches of Caiera, Praia da Atalaia and Ponta das Caracas have rougher waters than Praia da Conceição. Cacimba do Padre beach is the only one with fresh water. Baía dos Golfinhos (Dolphin Bay) is strictly off limits to swimmers, but access is permitted to Mirante dos Gofinhos, a viewpoint where you can watch hundreds of dolphins cavorting in the water every morning. You can get to Baía do Sancho either by boat or by following a trail which leads through bramble and bush, past almond trees and over sharp rocks. Once at Baía do Sancho, you may be lucky enough to witness an odd metrological phenomenon: without a cloud in sight, rain falls mysteriously on a spot of land 10 meters wide.