Scuba Diving & Snorkelling in Brazil

With 8,000km of coastline, you would expect Brazil to have excellent scuba diving and snorkelling options. Include the largest river system and wetlands on the planet, and there are some wonderful scuba and snorkel surprises too. With a climate ranging from sub-tropical in the south to equatorial in the north, with currents from Antarctica bringing migrating species to the nutrient-rich waters, and offshore islands in the Atlantic Ocean, Brazil has an excellent variety of scuba diving and beach and reef snorkelling. The waters of the Amazon River system, the Pantanal Wetlands and a whole range of water sources also make for some excellent freshwater action.

Perhaps not surprising, the very best diving in Brazil can be found offshore. Two archipelagos that are classed as national marine parks compete for the title of Best Scuba Diving Sites in Brazil, and both can be visited. Fernando de Noronha is the most famous one, 21 islands (only one is inhabited) lying aorund 375km off the far north-eastern corner of Brazil, described as a cross between Hawaii and the Galapagos, with some of Brazil's most beautiful beaches, best surf and fantastic marine life. Abrolhos is made up of 5 volcanic islets lying 70km off Caravelas on the southern coast of Bahia, right in the migrating path of humpback whales. The best way to cover them is of course on a Live Aboard trip, and there are options in both if you want to concentrate mainly on scuba diving during your trip to Brazil. There are also day trips for diving and snorkelling if you prefer to mix up your diving with a little more traditional Brazilian tourism. 

Brazil's continental waters also have many excellent dive sites, although without the huge tropical coral reefs that you may find elsewhere in the world. The best scuba diving sites in southern Brazil are perhaps around Cabo Frio, two hours drive or so from Rio de Janeiro. The cape gets its name, Cape Cold, from the deep-water current bringing nutrient-rich waters from Antarctica that hits the coast here. Penguins ride the current a little too far north, with dolphins, rays and sea-turtles also visiting the area. Offshore islands around Rio and also Buzios, close to Cabo Frio, can also make part of a scuba package or just for some gentle snorkelling. The story is similar on the scenic Costa Verde between Rio and Sao Paulo, with diving boats leaving for sites close to Paraty and Ilha Grande. Snorkelling is good fun too, especially for sea-turtles around Ilha Grande. Florianopolis and Santa Catarina further south also have a few dive schools, although the temperate waters may be better for those learning to dive, with less marine life.

The tropical beaches of Bahia and further north generally have a few diving options, with snorkelling on the offshore reefs possible as well, again much of it possibly best for beginners rather than serious divers. Morro de Sao Paulo and Praia do Forte are basic warm-water options, Praia da Pipa has regular visits from a pod of grey dolphins on their own beach, and also sea-turtles and rays. Canoa Quebrada and Jericoacoara also offer similar options for daily excursions.

Perhaps the most interesting scuba diving and snorkelling on mainland Brazil comes in the interior, in the fresh water. The Amazon River has its own dolphins, some of them being pink, and you can swim and snorkel with them at various lodges. A little snorkelling in the creeks and channels is also possible, with the chance to see piranha (usually harmless unless disturbed) and plenty of huge Amazon fish, although the presence of caiman and possibly anaconda may put some off, always best to check the safety of such an idea with your local guides first of course. Manatees also live in the Amazon, although this shy creature is very difficult to find. 

The Pantanal also has incredible acquatic life, with huge shoals of fish, although it is mainly an ecotourism and sport-fishing destination rather than for snorkelling. Just to the south of the wetlands lies possibly the most interesting inland destination for both scuba diving and snorkelling. The area around Bonito in the Serra do Bodoquena National Park boasts some of the clearest rivers in the world, with springs bubbling up from a limestone substrate. The rivers team with fish such as pacu and dourado, while the chances of seeing larger acquatic life while snorkelling is also good, with caiman, anaconda, turtles and giant otters also encountered regularly. The list of creatures seen in and around the rivers is just as impressive, with kingfisher, macaw and toucans in the trees, while anteaters, tapirs and even the beautiful jaguar have been spotted and photographed by people snorkelling in the rivers. Combining the river snorkelling with the descent into the Anhumas Abyss Cave, for snorkelling or scuba diving inside the clear cave lake make a trip to Bonito  an experience than every diver should have on their list. Bonito is also an excellent place for beginners to learn how to snorkel, and very safe for kids.

In general, for those who wish to learn to Scuba Dive, we can offer PADI qualification courses as well, although Brazil may not be quite as good as other countries at this level. A quick list of our more popular destinations where daily diving excursions can be included as part of a longer trip include: Rio de Janeiro; Buzios & Cabo Frio; Paraty; Ilha Grande; Florianopolis & Santa Catarina; Salvador; Morro de Sao Paulo; Praia do Forte; Fernando de Noronha; Jericoacoara; Bonito.

Brazil has a great variety of options for experienced divers, and the list of creatures possible to encounter is vast and varied. Perhaps the best thing to do is to contact us first with some details of when your group would like to travel, your level of PADI qualification, and we can make recommendations from there for your scuba diving trip to Brazil.

Scuba Diving & Snorkelling Tours