Fernando de Noronha
Starting off the list with a couple for the real dedicated snorkeler, Fernando de Noronha is a grouping of 21 islands some 350 km (218 miles) off the mainland of Brazil, isolated, and surrounded by incredible water, beaches and waves. Tourism is regulated here, so the island and surrounding sea life remain undisturbed for you to enjoy the crystal clear water, beautiful fish and even some dolphins.
These uninhabited islands are located 72 km (45 miles) off the southern part of the state of Bahia, and are home to some of the best coral diving, and snorkeling in the world. In fact, the reef system here is the most biologically diverse, and largest, in the South Atlantic, and along with reef snorkeling, you can swim near humpback whales, or dive to visit some wrecks.
On the mainland, about 50 km (31 miles) from the city of Natal, you will find the town of Maracajaú and a few kilometers offshore in the water, the large reefs known as the Parrachos de Maracajaú. You can take boat tours out to bob overtop of the reef while you get out and peer at the sealife below, making this is a great option for both beginner snorkelers, and divers.
This spot is a small coastal city dotted with dive shops catering for the great sights under the water, just as you step off the beach. You can walk out very far and still only have the water up to your knees to get accustomed to your mask, while off to the sides of the beaches, the rock formations and coral create perfectly clear, still little snorkel pools.
Ilha de Boipeba
Barely an island, with only a river separating it from the mainland, Ilha de Boipeba has some of the clearest waters in all of Brazil, providing a unique sight to everything below, allowing you to float around for hours. There are a handful of options for beaches and places to relax in the shallow water and beaming sun, but make your way to Praia de Cuiera, or Tassimirim, which are the best for snorkelers.
In this territory, lined with untouched sands, as the tide pulls out both the water and the surface get lower, leaving the big mounds and corals under the surface exposed and producing little snorkel pools. You can walk out from the beaches, into the calm waters to snorkel, but the best option to get the best views, is to take a ‘jangada’ boat out to these coral pools.
Arraial do Cabo
The corner peninsula just a couple hours from Rio de Janeiro is home to a busy resort destination, Armacao dos Buzios, but its southern outcrop is a much more relaxed, laid back spot more suitable for diving and snorkeling. You can walk right off the beaches into shallow, clear waters, like Praia Forno, Prainhas do Pontal do Atalaia, or take a small ferry over the Ilha Cabo Frio.
The name of this town means ‘beautiful’, and this area is exactly that. Even though it’s very far inland, it’s great for snorkeling. How so? Well here there are pockets of freshwater that have been exposed as the land gives way, creating glassy, refreshing, pools perfect for snorkeling and seeing something different.