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This post is brought to you by PADI as part of the PADI AmbassaDiver initiative. Read  on the PADI blog!

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It’s pretty much a guarantee that when Meihoukai in Wanderland regular Heather and I do a trip together, we’re going to find somewhere to go diving together, even if it’s the inside of a particularly spacious bathtub. Thankfully it hasn’t come to that quite yet, but suffice it to say these two PADI aqua-addicts love to get their scuba on.

Diving in Arraial do Cabo, Brazil

Diving in Arraial do Cabo, Brazil

While Brazil has some five star like Fernando de Noronha and Bonito, neither were on our original itinerary due to that ever delicate balance of time, location, budget, and season.

But we were hopping along the coast, after all, and spots we were stopping in like Paraty, Ilha Grande, and Buzios all had diving on offer — each of which we were keen to try. Unfortunately it rained non-stop for our time in Paraty, and by the time it cleared up and we reached Ilha Grande, the local divemasters assured us the visibility was so torn up from the storm we might as well be diving in pea soup. So Buzios it was!

Diving in Arraial do Cabo, Brazil

Diving in Arraial do Cabo, Brazil

From our research, we knew that while there are local dive sites in Buzios, most hardcore divers head to nearby Arraial do Cabo, about an hour west back towards Rio. We called around to several local dive shops in Buzios and ended up booking with , who promised to whisk us to Arraial and back for two dives equiptment rental for 320R ($104), or 290R ($94) if we paid in cash — an upcharge for using plastic was common throughout Brazil, unfortunately.

The morning of our dive we were met by a fairly surly dude who refused to make conversation even when I dragged out of him that he was in fact Argentinian and excitedly attempted to speak Spanish. By the time we arrived in Arraial we weren’t super excited to spend the day with him so we were actually fairly happy to realize we were being handed off to another dive operation entirely, .

Diving in Arraial do Cabo, Brazil

Diving in Arraial do Cabo, Brazil

We hopped aboard with Seaquest and were immediately impressed with the organization and cleanliness of the boat, and the friendliness we were greeted with. Within seconds of stepping onboard we pulled away from the harbor, we went to set up our gear and realized that we had been assigned large and extra large wetsuits — we laughed as I held mine up to myself, the legs spilling over a foot beyond my short frame.

We waved over a divemaster who pulled an “oh shit” face before revealing those were the wetsuits they’d been given for us by P&P, to whom we had given our height and weight as requested. Considering an oversized wetsuit is not only ineffective (unless it sits firmly against your skin, cold water will seep in rendering it useless) but can also be dangerous (that water trapped between you and your wetsuit can create drag that restricts mobility), we both immediately refused to wear them and requested that we be brought back to shore rather than sit on the boat for two hours waiting for the other divers to have their fun.

Diving in Arraial do Cabo, Brazil

Diving in Arraial do Cabo, Brazil

Diving in Arraial do Cabo, Brazil

We called P&P en route to ask what had happened, and were shocked when we were indignantly told that based on our weights, they had given us the correct sizes. I replied that with a couple hundred dives under my belt oh and uh, twenty-seven years living in my body I was pretty sure that I knew what size I wore and this enormous mess of unisex neoprene I was holding wasn’t it. We can only assume that they didn’t have enough small wetsuits — a common issue at dive shops everywhere — and were too embarrassed to say so. But we were pretty livid.

At that point, Seaquest radioed back to their shop and asked them to rush a small and medium wetsuit to the dock, and turned around for us to get them. We were embarrassed to delay the whole boat but incredibly grateful to Seaquest for saving the day for us. Lesson learned — I certainly will never leave the dock without checking my equipment again.

Diving in Arraial do Cabo, BrazilShot by on a 

Diving in Arraial do Cabo, BrazilShot by on a 

Suffice it to say, it was a very dramatic start to the morning! However, once we had two properly fitting wetsuits we decided to leave our frustrations at the surface and enjoy every second of our long-awaited first dive in Brazil.

Diving in Arraial do Cabo, Brazil

And oh, how much there was to enjoy! Teeny tiny starfish, curious boxfish, arrow crabs, pufferfish, and my absolute favorite, — a fabulous new-to-me species that was literally everywhere I turned on the dive site. As we began to ascend for our surface interval, I already couldn’t wait for the second dive.

Diving in Arraial do Cabo, Brazil

Diving in Arraial do Cabo, BrazilShot by on a 

There were even more sea surprises awaiting us at the next dive site. This time, Heather and I had our divemaster to ourself, and he waited patiently while we oohed and ahhed and snapped a million photos of spotted drum, more flying gurnards, and then finally, my favorite find of the day, a colorful spotted eel who bravely darted from coral to coral, letting us admire every inch of his bright pattern.

Turned out Brazil was as colorful underwater as it is on land.

Diving in Arraial do Cabo, Brazil

Diving in Arraial do Cabo, Brazil

Diving in Arraial do Cabo, Brazil

Diving in Arraial do Cabo, Brazil

Diving in Arraial do Cabo, BrazilShot by on a 

Diving in Arraial do Cabo, Brazil

Diving in Arraial do Cabo, BrazilShot by on a 

We giggled into our regulators when our divemaster pointed out a man-made wonder — a tiny replica of Rio’s famous Cristo Redentor statue, sunken by what we can only assume was an enterprising local dive shop.

Diving in Arraial do Cabo, Brazil

Diving in Arraial do Cabo, Brazil

Just as our dive computers began prompting us to make our way back to the land of air-breathers, we spotted one last wonder of the deep — two perfectly posed batfish (different from the orbiculate batfish I know and love in Thailand) practically preening for our cameras.

Diving in Arraial do Cabo, Brazil

Diving in Arraial do Cabo, Brazil

We had the best time diving with  — the owner Gabi in particular was an absolute gem! Unfortunately, based on our multiple negative experiences with them, I cannot personally recommend P&P, though perhaps they were just having a really bad day. We left Buzios at 8am and were back by around 2pm. The water temperature was around 73 degrees fahrenheit in May.

If I could do it all again, I’d rent a car for the day and drive myself to Arraial do Cabo (while the diving there was amazing, from our quick glance around town I was glad we were staying in Buzios). Seaquest’s rates are cheaper than those we were quoted in Buzios, so depending on what kind of deal you can get on transportation, it might work out to the same price.

Bottom line? Regardless of how you get there, don’t miss the opportunity to blow bubbles in Brazil!

Want more underwater? Read more diving posts here!

Diving in Arraial do Cabo, Brazil

Next stop, back to Buzios for one last land-based adventure!

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All underwater photos in this post were taken with the  and its . See a full list of my photography gear here.

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Diving in Arraial do Cabo, Brazil

Diving in Arraial do Cabo, Brazil

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28 Comments...
  • Bibi
    March 22 2017

    Wow, this makes me want to go scuba diving again so badly. I did it in Cuba for the first time and loved it!!
    Sucks they messed up with your wetsuits but happy to hear it got sorted in the end 🙂

    • Meihoukai
      March 22 2017

      Oh, I’d love to go diving in Cuba! One of many reasons I’d like to go there, in fact 🙂

  • Cate
    March 22 2017

    Brazil is definitely full of color! Great shots, love the eel, so cute. Glad you guys went for safety with the wetsuits- it’s always worth it!
    Cate recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 22 2017

      The eel was THE BEST! I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much time with one underwater — they are normally so shy!

  • Jo-Anne the crazy lady
    March 22 2017

    What amazing photos it looks like you had a great time
    Jo-Anne the crazy lady recently posted..

  • Kam
    March 22 2017

    Amazing post! Love the pictures, we love to dive but have not yet been able to in Brazil. It is now on the list!!
    Kam recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 22 2017

      I wouldn’t say Brazil is the easiest place to dive — it’s pricey for the region and not many operators have English websites or speak English very fluently. So, a bit of a challenge. But from our experience, very worth it!

  • Erin
    March 22 2017

    Thats a really great picture of you on the boat 🙂

  • Those little honeycomb cowfish are just my favorite! And I’ve never seen an eel as colorful as that first one. So pretty!
    Kristin @ Camels & Chocolate recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 24 2017

      I absolutely love seeing the regional variations in fish I know and love!

  • What a shame that you had a shaky start to the day, but happily, it all worked out well in the end. And judging by the photography. Wow!
    Victoria @The British Berliner recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 24 2017

      Thanks Victoria! It was very well worth it in the end, just a dramatic start… we almost swam back to shore, ha ha.

  • Dominique
    March 23 2017

    I miss diving! It’s almost been a year since my last dive and I can’t wait for summer! In the meantime I’m happy to look longingly at your gorgeous underwater photos!
    Dominique recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 24 2017

      I feel ya, I haven’t been diving NEARLY as much as I should! Here’s hoping to remedy that in the upcoming year!

  • Chris @ Fly Family Fly
    March 24 2017

    Buzios is one of our favorite spots around here, snorkeling is as deep as we get, though!

    Too bad about your poor customer service experience – but great to see Seaquest step up. As you have noticed, both experiences can be quite common in Brazil!

    • Meihoukai
      March 25 2017

      Indeed, we really did have a lot of both 🙂 I’d definitely go back and do a package with Seaquest after they saved the day for us.

  • Rachel Elyse
    March 24 2017

    Such a bummer about the wetsuit situation and their negative attitude towards you! Really can put a damper on the day. Glad you had a great time otherwise- photos were amazing, loved the eel!!
    Rachel Elyse recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 25 2017

      Thanks Rachel! Sometimes I feel a little guilty harping on these little things that went wrong but I did have a pretty major roller coaster ride in Brazil and one of the reasons was it just felt like every day, something seriously went wrong or we just had an enormous miscommunication. And that started to weigh on us. So I guess I’m just trying to share HOW we got to that point where we were so burned out. One by one they are just little blunders, but taken all together, well, they start to shape your trip a little.

  • I got cold only by looking at the photo with the wetsuit and hoodie. 73 degrees in the water reminds me of the diving in New Zealand.
    But when I saw all the photos of the animals you saw this is really on my list. It looks like an amazing dive site! And I have never seen flying gurnards, didn’t even know they exist. And I got confused when you wrote batfish, I’m also used to the thai one.

    • Meihoukai
      March 28 2017

      Ha, I know what you mean! Thai Batfish are one of my favorites to see underwater, so I was baffled by the same name being used for this other strange creature 🙂

  • Katie
    March 31 2017

    Brazil is on my list of places to do a 2-3 month stint! How was the viz and temperature? Once you had properly fitting wetsuits that is.
    Katie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 3 2017

      The water was 73F, and I was happy in the wetsuits they provided! The visibility could have been better but considering the enormous amount of rain Brazil was getting while we were there, I can’t complain too much!

  • Carl Kruse
    April 6 2017

    Buzios added to bucket list. Thanks Meihoukai!

    Carl Kruse

    • Meihoukai
      April 6 2017

      Glad to hear that Carl! Definitely wish we had time for a second day of diving!

  • Martina
    April 12 2017

    Looks amazing!! I have to wonder though – was the wetsuits mess a kilograms/pounds thing? I can just imagine someone saying they weighed 130lbs and that being understood as 130kg and being given an extra large instead of a small – I bet it’s happened before!

    Anyway. Gorgeous photos. I need to get underwater again soon!!!
    Martina recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 18 2017

      That absolutely could be it! Though considering the person who drove us was also the person who set up our gear and who we made the booking with, I’d hope that as soon as he saw us that morning he’d realize there had been a mix-up. Lol!