Snorkel in a fish nursery
Atalaia Beach is located on the Mar de Fora side of the island, the side pounded by waves and deep-water currents. Instead of using corals as their nursery area, small reef fish on this side of the island inhabit quiet, natural salt-water pools trapped in layers of calicfied algae (algae that has undergone a process of biomineralization to become rock-like). The park service escorts groups of 25 bathers to this isolated beach to snorkel in the pools during low-tide periods. Each group is allowed to stay 30 minutes.
Equipment: Mask and snorkel. Fins are not allowed, nor is sunscreen, as both can damage the fragile ecosystem.
Descent into paradise
It is estimated that 90% of visitors to Fernando de Noronha go there to dive. While this number may include some skin divers, it is principally scuba that gives the archipelago its current cachet.
There are two distinct diving environments: the calmer, shallower Inner Sea and the deeper, more dramatic Outer Sea. The marine life found in each of the environments is somewhat different. There are also two types of island formations: volcanic and limestone. Each of these offers a different type of below-water topography and dive adventure.
Most dive operators' boats make two two-tank dive trips a day. As a rule, the more experienced divers go out in the morning to the deeper dives and those on the Mar de Fora (Outer Sea) side of the island. Afternoon dives are mainly populated by those learning and those who prefer shallower, less challenging conditions. It is generally possible to go out both in the morning and in the afternoon, doing four dives in total, and still be within safety limits on bottom time.
Equipment: All three dive operators (Atlantis, Aguas Claras, Noronha Divers) provide rental equipment, so it is possible to get everything you need on the island. Certified divers and avid snorkelers would be well advised, of course, to bring their own equiment--at minimum a mask/snorkel and fins.
Dive operators do not provide storage space for equipment; divers have to carry their gear back and forth from their lodgings to the pier for each outing, but operators do provide transportation. If you take your BCD, reg, and wetsuit, make sure to bring along strong, non-rusting hangers to use after cleaning your equipment.
The water temperature is approximately 25 degrees C year round, so a shorty wetsuit is more than enough to stay warm. If you prefer a full-body wetsuit, a 3mm thickness is sufficient. Divers are not permitted to wear gloves. Bring a flashlight if you intend to do night dives (there is a wreck at a shallow depth--7 to 9 meters--in the port, which makes a nice nighttime shore dive).
This was the second dive,and this kind of boat takes you to the deep sea,departing from San Antonio Port.
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