Fernando de Noronha is an enchanting group of islands that has become a top tourist destination in Pernambuco off Brazil’s northeast coast. It is an archipelago composed of a large central island and 20 smaller islands with a total population of only 2100. It is situated 340 kilometers off Brazil’s main coastline and has an area of just 17 kilometers. It is the habitat of 15 coral reefs and hundreds of species of wildlife that include colorful fishes, sharks, sea turtles, and the popular Spinner dolphin, all of which can only be found in this area.
Fernando de Noronha is a mecca for divers and it offers an unforgettable diving experience to all its visitors. It has comfortably warm waters (averaging 26°C) all year round with an amazing visibility of 25 to 40 meters. Fernando de Noronha Marine National Park is a protected area by ICMBio, Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation, which is the brazilian Ministry of the Enviroments administrative arm. The archipelago is considered by most water sports enthusiasts as the best diving destination in all of Brazil, offering different choices for divers of all experience levels and certification. You can find several diving tour operators in Noronha who provide equipment rentals as well as trustworthy guides to the various dive sites.
The Noronha group of islands is divided into two areas. There is the Outside Sea that is located towards the ocean side, and the Inside Sea that flows in towards the continent. The Outside Sea boasts of fantastic diving spots like Pedras Secas, Atalaia, Iuais, and Submarino. The Inside Sea has great dive points that include Laje Dois Irmãos, Cabeço da Sapata, and Cave of Sapata.
From April to December, due to wind conditions, it is recommended to dive in the area towards the main island of Noronha in the direction of the Inside Sea. The Outside Sea provides better diving conditions from December to March.
Fernand0 de Noronha Diving – the best spots
Atalaia forms a natural aquarium and swimming pool during low tide. Fishes tend to get trapped in these tidal pools as the tide recedes and cannot come out again until the next high tide. The meter of depth makes it ideal for beginners in snorkeling, giving them a fantastic experience among the varied fishes and young sharks caught in the lagoon.
Below are the best diving spots in Fernando de Noronha listed according to depth.
Fernand0 de Noronha Diving
20 Meters (66 ft) and Below
Morro de Fora (15 meters) is a breeding area for a number of young fish species that include queen angel fishes and flounders. This, along with Cagarras Rasas (16 meters) make a perfect diving spot for amateur divers. It offers an amazing view of the various varieties of attractively colored fishes that swim among the fire corals.
Buraco das Cabras is about 16 meters in depth and offers one of the most thrilling diving experiences even to the most hardcore diver. It offers a vast environment of impressive rock formations, with a wide array of plant and animal life. Frequently spotted in this area are corals, sponges, turtles, blackjacks, angelfish, lobsters, octopuses, manta rays, and hammerhead sharks.
Pedras Secas, at 17 meters or 56 feet, is considered as one of the world’s top ten diving spots. It offers a stunning formation of rocks, caverns, tunnels, arches, canyons, grottos, all with thick coverings of corals and sponges. An impressive variety of colorful and exotic species of fishes, as well as sharks and sea turtles are regular inhabitants of this area. This spot is known for the rocks that rise above the water’s surface. Because of its underwater clarity and the magnificent rocky formations that surround it, Pedras Secas is also a great spot for underwater photography and videos
20 to 40 Meters (66 – 131 ft)
Cabeco Submarino is 20 meters deep and a favorite diving spot for turtle watchers.
The Caverna de Sapata is about 25 meters deep and offers a huge corridor-like formation and some rays frequenting the site.
Iuias is a submerged reef found at 22 meters is a treat to diving aficionados. It offers fantastic rock formations blanketed by sponges and corals. It contains a lot of narrow fissures and passages where a lot of colorful marine life find shelter.
Laje Dois Irmaos is the largest coral-covered diving spot in Fernando de Noronha and is made up of rocks, sand and an abundance of sponges. Located at a depth of 24 meters (79 feet), it frequented by hawksbill turtles, fine bearded sharks, horse-eye jacks, wrasses, rays and reef sharks. There are also sightings of large fishes like black grouper, eagle rays, nurse sharks and jewfish which both fascinate and thrill divers.
Cagarras Fundas is a 30 meter deep wall dive that offers a marine biodiversity of enchanting plant and animal life. You can catch a view of rare reef fishes like rock beauty and gray angelfish along with other equally fascinating fish species.
40 Meters (131 feet) and Over
Cabeco da Sapata or “Head of Sapata” is a submarine rock formation that juts slightly out of the sea surface. At 43 meters (141 feet), it is an ideal multi-level dive location for professional and highly experienced divers because of its depth and powerful currents. Triggerfish, chromis, grunts, and other interesting fish species can be found abundantly in this area.
The Wall of Sapata is a thick wall of rock that goes down to a depth of 42 meters where a variety of tropical fishes can be seen.
Pontal do Norte is a massive submerged rock at 45 meters (148 feet) where divers can sight large marine animals like big sharks, snappers, black groupers, hawksbill turtles and rock hinds.
Fernand0 de Noronha Shipwrecks Diving
Fernando de Noronha also offers diving spots where you can find amazing shipwrecks. These fascinating underwater graveyard of both recent and ancient ships is a sight that no serious diver should miss.
Corveta V 17
Corveta V 17, a ship in the Brazilian Navy, went under in 1983 and rested on the rocky bottom somewhere near the areas of Laje Dois Irmaos and Caverna de Sapata. At a depth of 62 meters, this wreck of the sunken naval vessel is in an excellent state of preservation and is considered as one of the most famous in all of Brazil. The ship rests perfectly in an upright position, and balanced on its keel.
An huge assortment of tropical marine life can be found in this dive point, including eagle rays, mackerels, manta rays, tunny fish, mahi mahi and, on certain times of the year, whale sharks.
If you want to experience this great wreck dive, you need to be an advanced diver with the proper license and EANx (Nitrox) due to the great depth so you can explore the interior of the ship.
There are other shipwreck dive sites in Fernando de Noronha that divers find equally as exciting or better.
Navio do Leão
Also known as Ship do Leão, this wreck has been at the sea bottom since the 1930’s. It is in just 8 meters of water and is frequented by various fishes and other marine life.
Naufragio do Porto
This Greek ship also went under during the 30’s decade. It is so near the port that the site can be reached by swimming from the beach. It is also an ideal site for divers with snorkels because it isn’t too far under water. A short distance from the shipwreck, you can do some underwater exploration and may see some portions of a tractor that went underwater during the port’s construction some decades back.
Fernando de Noronha has so much to offer both amateur and professional divers when it comes to excellent dive spots and breathtaking shipwreck adventures. If you are not into diving, then you can also have fun snorkeling in exciting places where the water is not too deep. Whether you want to dive or just go snorkeling, Noronha will offer you the best of both worlds.