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O T O U R S
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From Recife or Natal, on TAM, about 1 hour's flight, depending on the type of aircraft.
On board the incoming flight, you will be given a form to complete. Once inside the airport, you stand in one of the 3 lines to be entered into their computer system. Once duly registered, you will be given a small piece of paper with a number (your place in arrivals that day) and the amount you must pay in Conservation Tax - around 32 reais (the Brasilian currency) per day. Once you have this paper in hand, you then stand in a single line where you actually pay the Conservation Tax. The fastest way is to pay the tax in reais (the Brasilian currency) but they do accept US dollars - though heavily discounted.
WHERE TO STAY:
There are no "hotels" as you might expect or want. The largest property is the Esmeralda, which is the old US military barracks and it sits next to the island electrical plant. It can sleep 100 persons.
There are 100 (and counting) "pousadas" - in fact every islander's home is a "pousada" - or almost. Once tourism became the main source of income, every islander has converted their home into a small pousada.
Most have 3 to 5 rooms and serve only breakfast. Many have A/C and frigobar in the rooms. The better ones have hot water. All are enlarging and improving daily.
They are located all over the island but none at the water's edge - none. All are simple, with few amenities.
As of May 2006, the best properties, and LADATCO's preferred are:
There are three ways to get around:
1) Walking - depending on where you stay.
2) Using the dune-buggy taxi service - quick,efficient, skilled drivers. They know where they are going which is more of a time saver than anything because you can't get lost, and they are used to driving the rutted, narrow roads.
3) Driving yourself - rent a dune-buggy. But everything you want to do is off the main road and then you need good skills to drive the rutted roads; it would be easy to flip over, go downhill, etc. Buggy rental is about $35 a day.
The best way of the three is number 2 - they can take you anywhere and then come back to get you.
WHAT TO DO ONCE THERE:
There are two prime activities:
- Diving - some of the best dive experiences available and 3 excellent dive companies.
- Beaching and snorkling - crystal clear waters, multi-colored fish, sloping beaches, few people
- there are 9 forts on the island, some offering spectacular views and panoramas.
- there are half day boat excursions - to view the coast and its marine bird-life and then to stop for an hour at one of the beaches.
- walking tour of Villa dos Remeidios to visit the church, museum and historic fort.
Absolutely lightweight casual - shorts, sleeveless shirts, etc, with swimsuit being the most important item. Good walking shoes a must. You can spend all day in your swim suit only getting dressed in the evening.
OTHER THINGS TO PACK:
- Fins, snorkle, mask. (though you can rent everything on the island)
- Sun protection, hat with brim or bill
- Lots of film
- Good book
TRAVEL TIPS & THINGS TO KNOW:
- English is very limited - spoken or written. Be prepared to smile and use hand language.
- Costs are in line with being a relatively remote place, but not out of line.
- Water is absolutely precious so conserve it the best you can; short showers, etc. And the kind you need for drinking - bottled water - is readily available everywhere.
- Don't expect gourmet food - and ask around for the best restaurants for foreign visitors.
- Shopping is limited - great array of t-shirts, hats but handicrafts practically non-existant. There are several places at Porto (the port), several small shops near Villa dos Remeidios and an official artisan center..
- Bring plenty of reais (plural for Real, the Brasilian currency) as it is difficult to exchange on the island and acceptance of credit cards is limited, and if accepted will have either a minimum purchase or an added percentage. Before you have even left the airport you'll be paying the equivalent of 32.12 reais (as of June 2006) for each day you are staying!