This small volcanic island rising from the deep, on the eastern edge of the mid-Atlantic ridge 350 km off the coast, is the St Barts of Brazil and one of the world’s great romantic destinations. It is blessed with exceptional natural beauty; rugged like the west of Ireland, covered in maquis like Corsica and fringed by some of the cleanest and most beautiful beaches in the Atlantic. Many of the beaches are exposed to the full force of the ocean and pummelled by a powerful bottle-green surf that has earned the island the nickname ‘the Hawaii of the Atlantic’. Surf championships are held on Cacimba do Padre beach. However, there are numerous coves where the sea is kinder and the broad beaches are dotted with deep clear-water rock pools busy with juvenile reef fish. The water changes through shades of aquamarine to deep indigo and is as limpid as any on earth. Diving here rivals Mexico’s Cozumel and the Turks and Caicos.
Despite the fact that two-thirds of the island is settled, it is an important nesting ground for turtles and marine birds, both the island itself and the seas around it are a marine park, protected by Ibama. All that is needed to make it a sanctuary of international standing is to remove the non- native feral monitor lizards (brought here in the 20th century to kill rats), goats and the island’s abundant cats and dogs. Tourism, however, is controlled and only limited numbers can visit the island at any time. Book well in advance.
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