About Fernando de Noronha

Looking at the location of Fernando do Noronha on a map, you will probably be surprised to find that the islands' main source of swell is not from the S like most of Brazil, but from the N Atlantic lows that provide Europe with it's surf. How the swells make it the thousands of miles south is a bit of a mystery - the most likely scenario is that they are pushed along by favourable winds and ocean currents.

The island has had a colourful recent history, having been used as a battlefield, jail, air base and weather station. It has now become a tourist heaven for divers and surfers. It is never under 2ft during Dec-Feb, and swells last for 5-6 days. Like Hawaii, the island is the summit of a huge underwater volcano, rising 4.3km (2.7mi) from the ocean floor. The surrounding deep water and lack of continental shelf allows the swells to hit with unimpeded speed and power. It also causes the waves to jack up in size. The W side of the island is too mountainous for any surf, whereas the E side has perfect topography. The steeply sloping beaches make for some fast barrels, which tend toward the straighthander category, but are perfectly suited to bodyboarders.

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