(Fernando de Noronha, Brazil) — Now this place is truly special. On this magical isle is a magical place, Pousada Maravilha.  After doing some online scoping and then staying there and checking out the other top places, this is the nicest place on the island. There are other cool places, but the view and position of this small hotel is outstanding and one of the few that have direct ocean views. The former house of a Brazilian movie star, the pousada is built around the main house, restaurant and pool, sloping down the hill. With some inline rooms at the top, to me it is worth the expensive splurge on a bungalow. They are lower down the hill but are stand-alone places with their own decks, hot tubs and unobstructed views of the small bay below. That bay, Praia do Sueste, is like a small atoll and a prime turtle sanctuary and snorkeling area.  You have to hire a guide, available right there, to take you out, but it is worth it — you turn to your left, turn to your right and you’re swimming with huge green turtles, a small docile shark or loads of colorful fish. All within walking distance.

The pousada has the best restaurant on the island and it ain’t cheap, but it’s worth every penny. The obviously French-trained chef really puts down some great food, breakfast, lunch and dinner. The staff is incredibly friendly and the awesome Aurelio was extremely helpful on guiding me on what to do, what to see and then seamlessly booking all the arrangements.

But the best thing is the view. From dawn to dusk, the light on the pool, the bay and the jaw-dropping mountains changes by the minute. A lightshow throughout the day. You think you got a great shot and then the clouds move and it looks completely different. Thank god for digital photography…I think I took about 400 pics just of the view from the pool.  I remember seeing this incredible view in one of my favorite coffee table books — Taschen’s The Hotel Book of South American gems — and deciding right then and there that I had to go there. It is better in person.

As a small hotel, there are only a handful of other guests. Even the well-known restaurant never gets really rockin’.  One thing I’ve found funny about foreign travel: the first few days in a small, cool hotel is you spend the first few days scoping the other guests out. Where are they from? What language do they speak? Are they cool or annoying? Invariably, you finally break the ice right before someone has to leave. And then you find out how cool they are and then wonder “Why didn’t we hang together more over the last couple of days?”.  Some of the best people I’ve met, we bonded that last day. But because of the experience you’ve shared, albeit separately, you end up having a common bond that will live forever and continue to communicate later, get to know each other more over email, and even agree to meet up later somewhere else. Life is funny like that. During my short stay, I met an incredible couple from Lisbon, Goncalo and Rita, and the friendliest person in the place, who was the most welcoming and inviting, ended up being one of Brazil’s biggest TV stars and his cool girlfriend. Only later did I find out who he was. Now that’s a cool person.


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