Fernando de Noronha: Popular Island Vacation Spot in Brazil Joins a Growing List of Accessible Tourism Destinations

Fernando de Noronha: Popular Island Vacation Spot in Brazil Joins a Growing List of Accessible Tourism Destinations

Brazil accessible tourism

By Adriana Braun


*This article was originally written by Adriana in Portuguese, and has been edited and translated by Julio Bin, O VIAJENTE ESPECIAL project partner.


What a great experience it was, returning to Fernando de Noronha – after ten years – and finding that previous obstacles for us wheelchair users no longer existed! When I first visited here ten years ago, I almost went crazy looking for a hotel that would accommodate me. It was beyond difficult just trying to put luggage in a buggy, dealing with a rude taxi driver who did not hide his prejudice for the disabled people, and trying to get through a bathroom door only 0.6m-wide with my wheelchair, let alone participating in any of the activities that the islands offers.


This time, I went to Fernando de Noronha to document the accessibility support provided on the island with regard to accommodation and tours for the Guide O VIAJENTE ESPECIAL ("The Special Traveler" – virtual accessible tourism guide). I was delighted to see that some hotels have already adapted or at least have tried to adapt to accommodate and welcome visitors with disabilities – including those who had faced significant challenges making such adjustments due to the steep terrain of the island.


Even those who had little or no guidelines to help them have made efforts to become more accessible, doing best they could with their own sense of judgment. Though there may still be much room for improvement, I do congratulate all these businesses for their efforts, and for working to provide greater security and comfort despite the difficulty with renovations on the island. In addition, it is important to note that many destinations do have difficulties in making modifications to receive wheelchair users often because of environmental practices and conservation codes.


My job involves not only verifying the accessibility services by accommodations, but also by local attractions and tour providers. In Noronha, most of the streets are not paved and the most common means of transportation on the island is by buggy. The majority of the beaches and trails are still mostly inaccessible. Given all of this, it with great pride and delight that I report to you that I was able to experience almost all of the activities offered to the regular tourist on the island. Yet again, on the island of Fernando de Noronha, I was able to prove that it is possible for disable people to visit both safely and with pleasure.


Of course, I had to make some changes, and adjust some trip itineraries according to my conditions and the physical structure of the site. For example, on the famous Island Tour, which takes you through the historic sites on the island, beaches, trails and spots for swimming, I wasn’t able to visit the Forte dos Remedios nor the trails of the Dolphins, Sancho beach and Lion beach. But I was able to go by wheelchair to Boldro, Cacimba do Padre and Conceicao and Porto. An alternative to getting to Sancho beach and Lion beach by land would be to take a boat ride and visit them. All you have to do is arrange this trip with a local tourism operator.


A visit to the beach of Atalaia is an unforgettable trip. To get there, you must contact a local operator and inform them about your physical conditions (i.e. use of wheelchair) in order to receive authorization of ICMBio (Environmental Agency) so that you can access the tail that leads to the beach by wheelchair. This rough trail is the only way to get to this beach. While the trail is a bit rough, the natural pool at the Atalaia beach is definitely worth the steps required to get the permit.


Noronha also offers an innovative new ride called NAVI, which is a boat with a magnifying glass in the hull that allows you to observe marine life. This is a great option for anyone who are not prone to sea sickness, including the elderly, pregnant women and children. While the boat was not designed for visitors on wheelchairs, it is certainly possible for wheelchair users to be part of this expedition. This interesting tour is very easy and accessible, as long as the sea is calm to transport the wheelchair from the pier to the boat.


A great option for wheelchair travelers and those with limited mobility is diving or free diving in Porto, where you can swim with turtles, sharks and stingrays. For the most daring and courageous, Noronha even offers catamarans boats that take tourists to dive into the open sea. The local operator can give an introductory course in the swimming pool before diving in the sea.


Another worthwhile option is the water board. The board tows you on the water, and with a snorkel you can observe the amazing marine life below the surface. You can also take the wheelchair into the boat and with the help of guides, into the sea. All this is done with the utmost care to ensure your safety.


Beyond the diving and boat tours, the island still hides other beauties and attractions - like the Sunset at Forte Sao Pedro do Boldró, where all the tourists meet at 6PM for the local sea turtle conservation NGO TAMAR Project’s evening lectures and guided visits. This is another very worthwhile visit, and I have a tip for future visitors: do not miss the lecture on sharks by Mr. Leonardo Veras! The TAMAR project is located in a very nice venue all accessible with a wheelchair. At the time of my visit, unfortunately, they did not have wheelchair-accessible toilets, but I was told that they were soon to be added to the site.

Fernando de Noronha: How to Get There & What To Do

From Recife or Natal, Trip Airlines has regular flights to Fernando de Noronha. At the airport in Noronha there is no lift for wheelchairs so you have to be prepared to be carried down the stairs. You then need to pay the National Park preservation fee, based on the number of days you are expected to stay. There are taxis outside or you can organize a transfer beforehand at www.ambiental.tur.br. There is a wheelchair-accessible toilet at the airport. Accommodation options include: Pousada Zé Maria, Pousada Dois Irmãos and Pousada Monsieur Rocha. See more details and photos here (Portuguese).


Brazil accessibility tourism

Cacimba do Padre is one of the longest beaches on the island and a popular surfing area


Brazil accessibility tourism

Adriana getting on the NAVI boat


Brazil accessibility tourism

Project TAMAR lecture on marine wildlife and ecosystems



About TIES

As the world's oldest and largest international ecotourism association, TIES seeks to be the global source of knowledge and advocacy uniting communities, conservation, sustainable travel..




> The International Ecotourism Society 



The Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference will highlight global challenges and local opportunities, supporting sustainable development of tourism and promoting solutions that balance conservation, communities and sustainable travel.

Connect to Us   

Become a Fan of TIES   Share Your Videos with TIESLinkedIn   Pinterest

   Google Plus Vimeo