5 star / VSOP diving on the dusty island
Fernando de Noronha Travel Blog› entry 8 of 9 › view all entries
March 7th, 2010 – by: manuel_s
For a place that is so hyped arriving in Noronha was a bit of a shock. The island itself is almost barren, dusty in the dry season (the red dust gets everywhere) and muddy in the wet season. Some of the villages here resemble shanty towns and it's hard to believe there are pousadas here charging over EUR 400 a night. Food is really expensive as well, which motivated most people in my hostel (there's only 1 budget option here, casa de Mirtes) to self cater. And gave me a bad case of food poisoning, eating lightly scrambled eggs that had been stored at 40 C was a bad idea.
The upside: all the beaches are gorgeous and near deserted, there's no mass tourism as only 400 outsiders are allowed onto to the island at any given time, and the diving here is truelly excellent. Mostly Brazilians come here and I had to get used to the ever present professional photographers who come on every dive, usually trying to get the money shot of the only dive most of these people will ever make. Which is annoying sometimes as they can be too insistent underwater trying to position you for a nice picture. I got weary of diving with Brazilians as a lot of them lack experience, flap about under water as if they're turtles with boyancy problems and use up their air so quickly it seriously cuts the dive time for, well, people like me. Going up with 100 bar left in the tank feels like a serious waste, specially as this were the most expensive dives I've ever done at EUR 60 a dive.
Then again, these were some of the greatest descents I've done so far, all the dive sites around the northern part of the archipelago are amazing. At Pontal do Norte I did a 40 m dive, descending right on top of a nurse shark, getting badly hammered by nitrogen narcosis, but seeing a lemon shark as well and tons of multi colored fish. Near the Canal da Rata are lots of massive stingrays ("Southern stingray"), octopus and turtles. The night dive in the same channel between Ilha de Rata and Ilha do Meio was amazing, loads of lobsters hiding between the ledges, turtle and stingray dormitories under rocks. Having a 1,5 m wide stingray swimming under you is a chilling experience, as is a massive turtle swimming straight for you while you try to avoid a collision. At one point I didn't know where to look, it was a traffic jam of rays and turtles crisscrossing in every direction.
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