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Diving in Brazil

Thanks to plentiful reefs and hauntingly impressive wrecks, Brazil is increasingly on the mind of adventurous divers. With over 4300 miles of coastline, diving spots abound in this fascinating country.

Diving in Brazil

Quick facts

From famous wrecks and healthy reefs stretching from Recife to Serrambi in the Northeast to pristine rocky dive sites in the South around Bombinhas, the variety and quality of the diving in Brazil is staggering. For now, five major diving areas exist, although more and more are being discovered. Fernando de Noronha Marine Park, a World Heritage Site, is Brazil’s premier diving destination. With 230 species of fish, 15 species of coral and a known breeding ground for spinner dolphins, divers who can drag themselves away from Fernando de Noronha Marine Park always leave happy. Popular dive sites include Naufragio do Porto, Ilha do Meio, Ressureta and Pedras Secas. Angra Dos Reis, near Rio de Janeiro, is known for its caves, wrecks and reefs. With its proximity to Rio, the warm water and its variety of marine life, the area is very popular on the weekends. Also close to Rio de Janeiro, Arraial do Cabo features 40 dive sites with calm currents and excellent visibility, making this area great for true beginners. Wrecks and caves also offer challenges for more advanced divers. With slightly colder waters, the marine life in Arraial do Cabo is different from elsewhere in Brazil. Although it requires a permit, the Arvoredo Island Biological Reserve in Santa Catarina hosts some of the best dive sites in South America. Amazingly, divers in the reserve occasionally log both seahorses and whales in the same dive. Finally, the Abrolhos Archipelago is a group of islands located 45 miles off the mid-eastern coast of Brazil and consists of five volcanic islands. These islands are home to the greatest chains of coral reefs and a rare coral reef bank in the south Atlantic. According to scientific knowledge, there is no other place on Earth where you can see the type of coral reef pinnacle that is prevalent in the waters surrounding the Abrolhos. Whether you choose offshore islands or the shores of Rio, you are sure to see some of the most unusual creatures and the best dive sites South America has to offer when you come to Brazil.

Recommended training

The PADI Deep Diver and PADI Wreck Diver courses will help you enjoy many of the sites in Brazil. AWARE – Coral Reef Conservation and AWARE - Fish Identification courses will help you appreciate the diversity of marine life.

When to go

For the southeast and Rio the annual minimum temperature is 21°C/70°F, while the average annual maximum temperature is 27°C/81°F. You can enjoy diving in Brazil year-round. While the summer months of December through February are the most popular, the dive season runs year-round in most regions.

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* Recife – More than 100 vessels dot the ocean floor of Brazil’s shipwreck capital. Many are accessible to visiting divers, and some were intentionally sunk to attract underwater life and divers. Add in abundant healthy coral reefs and you have the makings of a dive paradise. The Florida, a steam-powered tug, lies in 33 meters/110 feet of water and is festooned with sponges and coral. It’s a must-dive wreck, and the visibility is usually great. * Maragogi – This is the jump off point for access to Brazil’s “Coral Coast” with some 22 kilometres/13 miles of beaches surrounding a wide tropical lagoon with crystal clear water. The reef diving is excellent and divers are well served. There’s plenty for non-divers to do too. * Laje de Santos – Forming part of the state marine park off the coast of Sao Paulo, this popular site offers marine life ranging from small nudibranchs through to bigger creatures such as dolphins and whales. Manta rays and turtles also frequent this site, which is comprised mainly of hard colorful corals and a sandy bottom. * Ilha Rasa – Located a few kilometres/miles from shore, this is a great place to explore the underwater world close to the vibrant city of Rio de Janeiro. This site is home to a number of hard coral formations that attract a range of fish species. The Buenos Aires and Galeao wrecks are also close by. The depth ranges from about 8 metres/26 feet to around 40 metres/130 feet. * Ilha do Cabo Frio – Also known as Ilha do Farol (Lighthouse Island), Ilha do Cabo Frio boasts several sites with depths ranging from 2 metres/6 feet to 18 metres/60 feet. Home to various marine life including turtles and rays, the area is usually well protected from the wind and swell. * Angra dos Reis – This region has various sites for divers to explore including off Ilha Grande and Ilha de Jorge Grego. Groupers and stingrays frequent these locations with most sites ranging from 10 metres/33 feet to 35 metres/115 feet in depth. * Ilhabela - The biggest island of Brazil, Ilhabela has several sites and wrecks to please all types of divers. Ilha Galhetas is a popular site with a range of colorful fish species and marine life with depths ranging from 3 metres/10 feet to 15 metres/50 feet. * Victory 8B Wreck - Located around 2 kilometres/6 miles off the coast of Espirito Santo, it was the first artificial reef in Brazil. Resting at a depth of around 34 metres/110 feet, it’s a popular spot that attracts an array of marine life that call this sunken 90 metre/295 feet cargo ship home. * Fernando de Noronha - Undoubtedly one of the best diving spots of Brazil, this archipelago in the North-East of the country has amazing dive conditions with visibility sometimes exceeding 40 metres/130 feet. It boasts an incredible array of marine life including more than 200 types of fish. * Banco da Panela - Located near Salvador, this site is popular due to its large amount of historical wrecks. Rich in marine life due to its warmer waters, it is also regarded as a great drift dive with the depth ranging from about 6 metres/20 feet to 18 metres/60 feet.

What to see

Because of its long and varied coastline, Brazil has a diversity of underwater life that is hard to see elsewhere. Coral reefs, kelp forests and deep wrecks create interesting habitats for a variety of animals. Spinner dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, manta rays, lemon sharks, turtles, rays, octopus, moray eels, seahorses, queen angelfish, whale sharks, nudibranchs along with several other varieties of fish call these waters home. Lucky divers might even catch a glimpse of a humpback whale between July and December. Wherever you choose to dive in Brazil, the country will fill your logs with wonderful creatures and diverse environments, surely tempting your diving buddies back home to make the trip themselves.


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Think Brazil and colorful carnival costumes, revelers swaying to the samba, stunning white sand beaches and endless stretches of Amazon rainforest come to mind. Brazil is South America’s largest country and the world’s fifth largest country, both by geographical area and population. To the east, Brazil enjoys over 4500 miles of Atlantic Ocean coastline. The rest of Brazil is bordered by every other South American country with the exceptions of Chile and Ecuador. In 1500, Pedro Álvares Cabral landed in Brazil and claimed the region as a colony of the Kingdom of Portugal. Prior to 1500, the region was made up of a variety of indigenous tribes. For the next 300 years, Brazil remained a colony of Portugal. In 1808, Rio de Janeiro actually became the capital of the Kingdom of Portugal when the king decided to that he preferred living in the colony to living in Europe. After this point, times changed quickly for Brazil. In 1822, the country gained independence and over the next two hundred years, transitioned from a constitutional monarchy to a federal republic. Today, Brazil is a major world power and a major tourist destination. In 2014, the country held the Football World Cup and in 2016, Rio de Janeiro will host the Summer Olympics. Between the Amazon, the Atlantic Coast and colorful cities, Brazil has plenty to offer to international tourists.

Other attractions

Brazil is the largest country in South America and as such, features an amazing variety of topside attractions. Visitors can get lost among fascinating creatures in the Amazon, hike to Rio’s well-known Christ the Redeemer statue or gape at the massive Iguaçu Falls in the south. Of course, with over 4500 miles of coast, there are some wonderful beaches as well. Copacabana and Ipanema beaches are as famous as they are enormous. To rinse off after all the saltwater, a freediving expedition up the mighty Amazon River could even yield an encounter with elusive pink dolphins or giant otters. If you have the chance, don’t miss the raucous Carnival festival with its colorful floats and vibrant costumes. It’s held every year around the end of February or beginning of March.

Getting there

International flights from almost every continent fly into Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport (GIG) in Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport (CGH) in São Paulo. Buses, taxis, bicycles and private cars are available for moving around the country.


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Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.

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