There are some destinations in a country that few foreigners seem to know about, but mention the name to a local and it’s like a secret password. You’ll get a smile and a big dose of envy that you’ve gone or are about to go.

Our writer found that Fernando de Noronha is a prime example of that phenomenon, an island reserve way off the coast of Brazil. It’s exclusive, protected, and yes—expensive—but this former penal colony has kept its magical state as a result. Unspoiled coves, abundant wildlife, and stunning beaches aren’t about to get trampled. No plans for government-supported “master tourism plans” that involve a wall of condos and hotels.

All is not perfect, of course, and the fact that most tourists are domestic means that language can be an issue and some operations don’t meet international standards, as our contributor found on his scuba diving trip. Other aspects more than made up for that though. See the full story here in our Fernando de Noronha Brazil tour feature.