The Abrolhos Marine National Park, established in 1983, is located in the state of Bahia. The park covers an area of about 91,300 hectares, lying about 70 km from the Brazilian coast.
It is said that its name comes from the ancient Portuguese navigators warning about the dangers of the region: “Abra os olhos" (open your eyes, in portuguese). That is because the underwater barriers of coral have been a threat to ships and have caused many accidents.
Five islands are within the park boundaries, but one of them is not part of it and is under the jurisdiction of the Brazilian Navy, which holds the Abrolhos Lighthouse. The landing is permitted in only one of them, the Siriba island. After arriving, visitors go about into a 1,600-meter-trail surrounding the island. Hundreds of small shells and corals pile up on the southwestern tip of the island, forming a sort of beach. The other tip is formed by natural pools that are home to colorful fish and other marine organisms.
The National Marine Park of Abrolhos is an outpost of the Atlantic Forest Biosphere Reserve (RBMA) since 2003. This recognition shows a perfect harmony with the principles of this Biosphere Reserve. The Advanced RBMA stations are centers for disclosure and report of ideas, concepts, programs and projects developed in the Reserve. In 2010 the Park also received recognition as a Ramsar Site.
WHEN TO GO
The park is open all year round. From December to March, the water visibility is better, reaching 20 m. From July to November, the visitor can see the humpback whales.
BRL 32.50 for Brazilians and BRL 65.00 for foreigners. The tickets are sold by tourism agencies, requiring the formation of a minimum group. The tours are charged separately.
The biggest attractions are in the water. Divers can enjoy the reefs and all marine wildlife, and, from July to November, humpback whales can be observed by boat trips. Its crystal clear waters provide excellent visibility for the great diversity of underwater fauna and flora, especially the exuberant coral formations and the shipwrecks.
City of Caravelas: the city of Caravelas receives buses coming from Porto Seguro (daily) and Salvador (weekly), and there are several daily lines that connect one to another. The nearest airport to the city is located in the city of Porto Seguro.
From Caravelas to the archipelago: there are day tours and trips of up to three night stay in the boat, contracted with tourism agencies. Daily tours takes three hours to reach the archipelago - leaving at 7h00 from the port of Caravelas and returning at 17h30.
WHERE TO STAY
There are several lodging options and hotels in Bahia cities around the Park, as Caravelas, Alcobaça, Prado, Nova Viçosa and Mucuri.
Despite the thousands of kilometers separating Antarctica from Brazil, the humpback whales travel every year to the tropical waters of the Brazilian coast in order to reproduce. The greater reproductive cradle is in Abrolhos, which receives them in the months from July to November. During the season, the visitor can see these huge and lovely animals through whale watching tourism. The tours are conducted by agencies in 2 or 3-day trips.
While tourists are preparing to see humpback whales closely in sightseeing cruises, the Baleia Jubarte Institute intensifies its search and rescue actions, as is common in this period, while the awareness of society in the conservation of the species strengthens.
Beyond the islands, the park also includes the Abrolhos Parcel, where typical coralline formations of the region and the Timbebas reef can be seen. Transparent and blue-green waters show coral and reefs, and let the visitor see, even from the boat, fish, sea turtles and other species. The already paradisiacal setting is even more beautiful under the water, in which a wide marine diversity is presented to the eye.
Tour agencies provide mask, snorkel and fins for diving. The visitor can also hire a crash course in scuba diving with baptism on site. Make sure that the agency offers an instructor per person in and that vessels are in good condition.
In Siriba Island, where the visit is accompanied by monitors of the Chico Mendes Institute, visitors can observe its rock formations and get very close to seabirds such as the Masked booby (Sula dactylatra).
Depending on the tide, the visitor can not go around the whole island, as the waves break on the rocks, making the tour dangerous. Walking through the interior of the island is prohibited due to the presence of marine birds and their nests on site.