Diving Rio de Janeiro

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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro
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Country: Brazil  Area: Brazil

Water Temp: 15 - 20°C (59 - 68°F)

Visibility: 5 - 15m (16 - 49 ft)

Depth Range: 6 - 35m (20 - 115 ft)

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Rio de Janeiro is most famous for its annual Carnival, and the breathtakingly beautiful city is Brazils largest along the South Atlantic Coast. Rio is jam-packed full of museums, cathedrals, and sandy beaches, and enjoys excellent weather and several festivals throughout the year.

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The city has a vibrant culture, with its laid-back, beach-loving residents becoming party animals as soon as night falls. Rio is also going to be the first South American city to host both the Summer Olympic and Paralympic games in 2016.

Divers may be surprised to find that the waters off Rio’s coast actually don’t have many good diving sites at all. The trick is to head a couple of hours east or west, where some world class diving areas await, for divers of all levels of experience.  

Praia de Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Credit

Marine Conservation

In 2014 the Brazilian government announced that they would be creating more than 58,000 hectares of new marine protected areas. The country often faces criticism over the massive amount of forests that have been lost, and Brazilians are aiming to protect their marine reserves.

Conservation International is also focused on creating sustainable fisheries in Brazil, so that the locals are able to continue feeding their families, without negatively impacting the environment.

Climate

Rio has a tropical wet and dry climate, which is close to a tropical monsoon climate. In the summer, which runs from December to March, there is sometimes heavy rain. The city enjoys sunny skies and hot weather throughout the year, with an average low of 25º in the winter months from June to August, and 30ºC in summer.

Ipanema, Rio de Jeneiro, Credit

Tourists visit Rio year round, and dive in both the winter and summer.

 
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The Diving

There are a few choices for diving near Rio, Arial do Cabo in the east, and Angra dos Reis, or the island of Ilha Grande to the west:

Seaweed, Credit

 

Arial do Cabo

Arial do Cabo is less than 200 km from Rio, and is recognised as the best SCUBA diving spot in southern Brazil. There are more than 40 dives sites here, known for their excellent visibility, and especially good for inexperienced divers. The water is a little cold, at 21ºC (70ºF), but this means an amazing variety of marine animals will be found on every dive, and 5mm wetsuits are usually more than enough for divers to keep warm.

Expect to see rays, octopus, turtles, moray eels, sea horses, queen angelfish, large schools of fish, and a rocky bottom covered by soft and rigid corals, with many different coloured sponges.

More experienced divers will be able to explore historical shipwrecks, along with underwater caves and submersed canyons.

Turtle, Arial do Cabo, Credit

Angra dos Reis

There are 365 islands and islets in the area around Angra dos Reis and the largest is called Ilha Grande. Gipoia is the second largest, and has some pristine beaches and excellent spots for snorkelling. The area is a luxury travel destination, with forests, lakes, waterfalls, small fishing villages, and secret coves.

The waters are calm, with an average temperature of 23ºC (74F) which makes it a good spot for diving. For sponges, colourful fish, and coral, the waters off Brandao, Redonda, Papagaio, and Josefa islands are excellent. The areas near dos Porcos and Botinas islands are remarkably clear, and divers will be able to see large schools of fish before even entering the water.

Wreck divers should explore the Panamanian freighter, Pinguino, which sank in 1967 near Sitio Forte Island. The wreck lies at 15-20m (50-60ft), and divers are free to explore the captains cabin, engine room, and hold.

There is also a Brazilian ship called the California which sank in 1866 near Vermelha beach, along with a Helicopter in Laje Matariz at just 7m (22ft), and the stream freighter wreck of the Bezerra de Menezes is near of the headlands in the bay as well.

Most of these sites can be visited by taking full-day trips out of Rio, however there are also quality sites such as Fernando de Noronha, which are best explored via live aboard excursions.

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How to Get there

Those flying into Rio will come through Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport, which is better known as Galeao International Airport, and is located 20km (21 mi) north of the city centre.

The airport receives flights from Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and North America, along with those from Central America and South America.

Airbus, Credit

There are four different premium bus lines which depart from outside arrivals at the airport, and all of them have air conditioning and plenty of space for luggage. The buses run every 20 minutes from 5.30am to 10pm, and visitors can expect to pay anywhere from $12-$15 to get to the city centre.

Public buses are also available, and they run on segregated lanes, making it faster in peak traffic times. These run under the BRT system, and also depart from arrivals at the airport. Tickets are bought inside the airport for $3.

Taxi’s take a long time to get into the city centre, and many of the drivers will take advantage of foreign tourists with scams, especially in high tourism periods like Carnaval and New Years. Those who want to take a taxi should organise them through the attendant at the booths outside of the customs clearance area, and ignore the many people who are aggressively offering taxi services outside.

Another option is to get a yellow taxi out on the main street, as they are dropping passengers at the airport and will want to return with a full taxi. Always ask them to use the metre. Taxi’s are one of the best ways to get around Rio, but the traffic can be terrible.

Buses are a good option for those traveling around the South Zone, and there are a large number of lines that run through the area. It can be tricky navigating the system, and passengers should be wary of pickpockets. If there is no obvious bus stop, passengers may be expected to hail the bus down by extending an arm, otherwise the bus won’t stop.

The subway is safe, clean, and air-conditioned, and probably one of the easiest ways to get around Rio. There are just two lines, and tickets can be bought at the stations.

Rio is an excellent city to explore by bike, and it can be a good idea to hire an English speaking guide to take you around the best parts. The Bike Rio system has bike stations throughout the city, and there is even an app for both Android and IOS which can help you pay, register, find stations, and withdraw a bike.

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Where to Eat & Drink

Brazilians love their food, and they do it well. Rio is full of great restaurants, whether tourists are looking for cheap eats, or five star dining.

Bazzar is an excellent place for a romantic night, with plenty of candlelight and jazz music. The menu is comprised of Italian-influenced Brazilian dishes, and they also sell international cook books and their own sauces here as well.

Food! Credit

For seafood head to Shirley, which was originally owned by a Spanish family and specialises in the fresh seafood proudly displayed at the entrance. The atmosphere is cosy, and portions are large here.

Miami Miami is one of the trendiest restaurants in Rio, and is located in the student neighbourhood of Botafogo. The dishes are French and Asia with a Brazilian lean, and the extensive cocktail menu keeps people coming back for more.

Brazil is famous for its nightlife, and Rio is no exception. The national drink is the caipirinha, which is made of sugar cane liquor, fresh lime juice, and sugar, and should be tried by all visitors to the city.

Rio has everything from small, quiet bars, to the legendary street parties, and locals enjoy dancing on the beach after sunset.

Plataforma is a good place to see the Brazilian samba, and tourists come to watch more than thirty performers in an array of brightly coloured costumes, while having a few drinks.

Take a stroll through Lapa, which is an old bohemian quarter, and now a hub for bars and clubs. The streets are crowded with people, the music is loud, and the drinks are cool.

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Other Activities

Those who are staying a little longer in Rio will be pleased to know that along with diving, there are plenty of other activities in the area. Along with partying, shopping, and enjoying the sun and sand, Rio is packed with interesting history and culture. 

The Sao Bento Monastery is currently being restored, and has been open since 1641. If you’d like to see a show, try Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro, which has both shows, and tours available. This beautiful theatre was built in 1909, and is filled with gilded mirrors, sparkling chandeliers, murals, and statues.

Copacabana beach and neighborhood - Rio de Janeiro, Credit

Family Friendly

Many of the dive companies have diving and snorkelling available for the whole family. Rio is definitely a playground for adults, with a large focus on partying, sunbathing, and shopping, however it’s still relatively family friendly, particularly if the kids are a little older.

Take a walk up the famous Sugarloaf Mountain, for a fantastic view of the whole city, or visit the famous Christ the Redeemer statue.

There are plenty of beaches for a day in the sun, along with some impressive botanical gardens, and of course, Tijuca National Park.

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Tips

After the World Cup, Rio is probably safer than it has ever been in history. Tourists still would be wise to avoid walking alone at night, keep an eye out for pickpockets, and ask at their hotel about places to avoid.

Rio de Janeiro,Credit

Brazilians are friendly and lively, and are generally interested in those from other countries and backgrounds, so don’t let the stories about crime put you off.               

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