The state capital, João Pessoa, is less well know than its trendy sister cities of the northeast: Natal and Recife. But it does not leave anything to be desired. On the contrary. Midway between its famous neighbors, roughly an hour by car from each one, João Pessoa is the point of departure for the major diving spots of the region: beautiful reefs and must see shipwrecks. João Pessoa really has many beautiful surprises.
Few people know that João Pessoa is Brazil’s leafiest capital city. It is also the safest of the Northeast ant the only one where there are no skyscrapers on the coastal avenues – a strict municipal code limits the height of buildings to three floors. And thre’s more: the first sunrays of the Americas fall here, since the city lies at the eastern most point of the continent, Ponta dos Seixas – wich means visitors have to get up early. Not a problem.
There is so much to see and enjoy on the Paraíba coast: urban or deserted beaches, with powder white sand and coonut palms and cliffs of unique beauty, restaurants with excellent traditional cuisine, a wealth of handicrafts and historic attractions. That is, if one doesn’t spend every walking minute underwater.
Pedra de Baixo
The sandstone reef, covered by algae and corals, is know for its large sponges and starfish. Sharks, goliath groupers and others groupers hide in their small holes. Visibility ranges from 15 to 30 meters, during the summer. It is sough out mainly by novive divers seeking greater depths.
Erie (or Queimado)
The most popular shipwreck on the Paraíba coast. This two-thousand ton American ship sank after catching fire, in 1873, and today is found completely broken-up. The wreckage is spread over 100 meters of sand. A large patially buried propeller lies in the sand and many schools of small fish are the main attractions. Average visibility ranges from 20 to 30 meters.
Intact and uprigth, the small shipping barge is a beatiful shipwreck when viewed from a certain distance. When desceding, you can see the entire outline of Alvarenga, 20 meters in length, 5 meters in width and simple in structure. It is possible to pass through the compartments from bow to stern. And there is lots of life inside there. Nurse sharks, schools of spadefish, lobsters and green eels are commonly seen. The shallow depth, clear water and white sands give the location a peaceful feel.
This 53 meter steamship sank in 1911. The iron hull is in pieces. The bow is listing to port, with the highest point at a depth of 7.5 meters. A large anchor remains linked to the ship by a thick chain. Up toward the bow, one can see the round boilers and parts of the steam engine. The aft part of the hull is in an upright position and the bow still maintains part of its original shape. Many moray eels, octopuses, small lobsters and large schools of grunts are often seen above the wreckage. And excellent spot begginners.
Cabeço dos Cangulos
On the flat seabed of the continental shelf, there are formations of small mounds and limestone algae and outgrowths of large sponges. Each with its own special microfauna, made up of small shrimp, crabs, octopuses, eels and small fish. The name of the spot comes from the large number of triggerfish species, listed as threatened with extinction.
This is a new diving site, a small natural reff against a seabed of light colored sand and grave. It is composed of various elongated mounds spread over the ocean floor, on wich grow macroalgae, corals, sponges and other organisms. Schools of fish frequent the area and surround divers.
As the name suggest, it is a trench in the continental shelf probably formed by a river that emptied there eons ago. The shallowest part is 36 meters from the surface and the trench extends for 56 meters. High rockly walls separate the flat surface of the shelf from the steep slope of the canyon. Various shapes and colors of sponges almost completely cover the ocean floor.
Source: Brazil Diving Guide