Recife, Brazil, December 2012

Recife is quite well know in Brazil for its wreck diving. Some of them were sunk deliberately as part of an artificial reef programme, some sunk by accident. I did the usual web search and came up with five different possible operators, so I emailed all of them. One replied saying he could do it, three of them didn't reply at all and Aquaticos replied saying they could. I booked diving for Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Monday's diving was cancelled, I presume due to lack of numbers. They didn't tell me until quite late on Friday afternoon, which I wasn't best pleased about.

The dive centre is located quite close to the Cinco Pontas fort which was built by the Dutch back in the 17th century, so I wanted somewhere to stay in the centre of Recife. Most accommodation is out towards the beachs and Boa Viagem, and the only place I found on was the Plaza Hotel. At R$200 a night, it was the most expensive room I'd booked in my entire trip. It did have a small roof top swimming pool, the breakfast was good, the air con worked and there was cable TV, but it was a bit run down. There was only one lift out of two operating and there are 17 floors, though it looks like they never actually finished building some of the floors between 13 and 17. It was only a 10-15 minute walk from the dive shop though. If it had been a bit more reasonably priced, these things wouldn't have really bothered me.

Beach Picture
Galilieo dive boat
So I arrived and in a mixture of my terrible Portuguese and some of the staff's better English, I managed to sort out my kit and my nitrox tanks. The boat was an impressive looking catamaran, the Galileo. I think it's probably the biggest day boat I've ever been out on. The first dive was the Saveiros, a wreck that was sank deliberately in about 29m. I was diving in a buddy pair with a Brazilian instructor. One of the crew jumped in, tied in a line and everyone jumped in. One of the disadvantages of a big boat is that there were about 30 of us.

The wreck sits upright and we had about 20m visibility. The temperature was 26C, so a 3mm full wetsuit was perfect. The wreck has a fair bit of growth on it and a few holes you could get into. We got to the bottom before most people and say a couple of large, 2m long, fish which I think were catfish, though I didn't recognise the species before they swam off. There was a big stingray cruising around, shoals of grunts, blue tang, all the usual fish you'd expect in these water. Someone also spotted an octopus on the sea bed and as we were coming up, there was a slipper lobster in one of the pipes. Everyone came up the line and it was a bit like diving in a jacuzzi, there were so many bubbles. There also appeared to be several people using the line to keep themselves down, so you really didn't want to rely on the line keeping you at the same depth. It was all over the place.

After about an hour surface interval, the second dive was the Taurus which is in 24m. Visibility was much the same and again, it's an artificial reef sitting upright on the bottom. There was a nurse shark asleep under the stern, though obviously it didn't stay aslee that long. Under some wreckage that had fallen away to one side was a huge green moray. It kept its head under a plate, but its body was visible through a hole and it was a monster. On the ascent, there was hardly any current, so I decided to come up near the line though not actually on it and found it a much more enjoyable experience. Obviously to do this, you need to be able to hold your safety stop in blue water.

The next day our target was the Walsa, a tug, which lies in 42m. There were fewer people on the boat, presumably because of the depth. Again it sits upright and it had some interesting holds you could swim into and through. At that depth, on a single, even of nitrox 28%, bottom times was extremely limited but it was a good dive and I would have liked to have done a more typical, UK, twinset profile on it.

Beach Picture
The last dive was the Servemar X. This is in 24m and is also upright. There was another big stingray cruising around and inside the cabin were three nurse sharks which looked a bit aggitated when someone swam in and stuck a big camera with flash in their faces. There were also shoals of bulleyes in and around the wreck and a lot of grunts. So a nice dive to finish my weekend off with.

The diving is well worth doing there. If you're on holiday, it would be best to try and be there at the weekend as that seems to be when you're more likely to get out. It wasn't cheap. The kit hire was the most expensive part. I paid just under R$400 a day, which is double what I paid in Natal, though R$60 of that was for the nitrox. It would have been nice to have done a non-articifial wreck. There is apparently an old steam shop you can do. A list of wrecks can be found here: Pernambuco Naufragios in Portuguese with some pictures. The wrecks now have a lot more life on them that they do in some of the photos on there.