Fodor's Expert Review Parque Nacional Marinho de Abrolhos
One of the best scuba-diving spots in Brazil, Marinho de Abrolhos marine reserve, 856 km (532 miles) south of Salvador, was created to protect these remote gigantic coral reefs teeming with marine wildlife. Charles Darwin's expedition made a stop here in 1832, and noted the abundant bird, whale, turtle, and fish populations. The archipelago, 36 km (23 miles) off the coast of southern Bahia, is made up of five islands, four of which are within the park. Ilha Santa Barbara is a naval base with a lighthouse run by the Brazilian Navy. The shallow waters on the continental shelf are the Abrolhos Banks, containing one of the major coral formations in the Atlantic. Water visibility for scuba diving is best from December to March, while whale-watching season runs July to November. Only accredited boats are allowed inside the park, so look to hire a catamaran from one of the agencies in Caravelas. Excursions normally last 1–3 days.