Hotel Review: Ecohotel Teju Açu in Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
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During my recent trip to Brazil’s Fernando de Noronha with my friend Sergio, I stayed at the eco-friendly Ecopousada Teju Açu, which was recommended to me by some of our Brazilian friends. This independently owned boutique hotel is surrounded by vegetationBlueMile with a killer view of the island’s highest peak, the 1,142-foot Morro do Pico. It feels remote, but it’s only five minutes from FEN airport and about a 15-minute walk from the area’s popular beach, Praia de Conceição.
I was fortunate to have Sergio – a native Brazilian – with me, because he was able to help bridge some language gaps. One or two of the front desk staff spoke English, but the rest of the staff spoke mostly Portuguese. Despite the language barrier, everyone was very helpful and friendly, and assisted us with setting up tours, scuba excursions and more during our time on the island.
The Teju Açu calls its guestrooms “bungalows” and they definitley have the island feel. They’re spacious with decent balconies and are scattered around the property, but mostly around the pool area. They offer two types of bungalows – upper and lower – and the main differences between them are beds and views: lower rooms have Queen beds and partial views of the jungle and pool, and upper rooms have King beds and somewhat better views.
I decide dto splurge and get an upper room with the King Bed and Bungalow number 10 fit the bill just fine, featuring a nice balcony as my consolation, for R$1,001 per day ($447.60 USD). Sergio opted for a lower bungalow which cost $396 USD per night and faced the jungle. I ended up paying for my room with my new Ink Bold, which I applied for as part of my March round of applications, in order to help hit the $5,000 spend requirement within the first 3 months and earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points. Normally I would use my Sapphire Preferred to get 2x on travel and the 7% annual dividend making it 2.14 points earned per dollar, but since there are no foreign transaction fees on the Ink and you still earn 2x points on hotels, I went with that so I can earn my 50,000-point bonus faster.
The only drawback to my upper bungalow balcony was the fact that it was uncovered, which meant that I couldn’t use when it rained. Keep in mind that during the month of March on Fernando de Noronha, you’re likely to see a little rain at least once a day.
Both Sergio’s and my rooms were clean and well cared for, and offered L’Occitaine bath products, but at night there would be some bugs whenever you enter the room. At one point there were a bunch of flying ants, but I took care of them swiftly and there’s really nothing that the hotel could have done- I mean you’re basically staying in the middle of a jungle so some expectations have to re-aligned. The biggest issue was really slow WiFi and an overall weak signal, despite being very close to the router, which was located at the reception desk. Though poor internet and phone service is a problem that affects the entire tiny island, there were times when all internet across the island was shut down for “upgrades.” This clearly didn’t bother the residents, who are very relaxed, though if you’re like me and like to be connected at least a little bit every day, you need to get used to the stress of not even being able to send a text message at certain times.
The pool here is small but nice – better for lounging and cooling off than an actual swim.
The complimentary breakfast was basic, with yogurt, breads and cheeses, but also homemade omelets upon request (learn some of those key words in Portuguese!). Nothing amazing, to be sure, but certainly easy and convenient.
Our other meals at the hotel were pretty good, all involving fresh seafood, which is Fernando de Noronha’s main culinary attraction.
For one dinner, Sergio had fish and shrimp, and we split some crispy cassava fries served with fried cheese.
I had a simple dish of langoustines, the small lobsters that are found in the Atlantic Ocean waters around Noronha. All of these dishes were decent if not especially exciting.
The real treat, though, was a lunch of moqueca de peixe (mo-kayka deh PESH), a delicious Brazilian saltwater fish stew usually made with coconut milk, tomatoes, onions, garlic, coriander and some palm oil.
Visiting the nearby beach, Praia de Conceição, was a highlight, especially because it was rarely crowded. The waves were pretty rough most of the time so I wouldn’t recommend swimming far offshore unless you’re a very strong swimmer and understand the currents of the Atlantic Ocean.
One of the best parts of staying at the Ecopousada Teju Açu, though, was the walk to the beach. Taking that 15-minute dirt-road stroll to the shore helped me get into the vacation mood, helping me to slow down and concentrate on the sights, sounds and scents of the jungle and the sea. This short journey helped me appreciate that fact that I’d come a long way to a remote and special corner of the world. There are more fancy ecopousadas around the island (and some budget ones as well), but I felt like Teju Acu was a perfect fit, since this trip wasn’t about lounging at the hotel all day, but more exploring the stunning beaches and world renowned dive spots.
If you’re planning to head to Fernando de Noronha, I’d recommend staying at the Ecopousada Teju Açu. It’s a lush and pretty place, but not so fancy that you’ll feel bad about spending the bulk of your time out exploring the island and her amazing beaches.