The Diving in Fernando de Noronha
The equatorial Atlantic is not home to a plethora of tropical islands, but Fernando de Noronha is the stunning exception. This remote archipelago 220 miles off the Brazilian coast only opened up to tourists in 1988, and it remains fiercely protected from development by the government. With crystal clear waters and visibility up to 165 feet, the main island and its surrounding islets offers some of the best diving in South America. The star attractions here are the spinner dolphins, manta rays, lemon sharks, and sea turtles, all part of the reef-filled marine park. On shore are 16 paradisiacal beaches and verdant forests that are a bird-watchers dream.
What you need to know: There are daily flights to Fernando de Noronha from Recife and Natal in the mainland. All visitors must pay an "environment tax" (about $16/day) and a one-time national park entrance fee (about $40). Book dives with one of the three operators on the island: Atlantis, Aguas Claras and Noronha Divers.