Flutuação (floating) on a snorkeling or diving tour is the main draw at Bonito's many private nature reserves, many of which belong to local ranches known as fazendas. Thanks to the presence of calcium carbonate acting as a natural filter, the waters are incredibly transparent, so when you slip into a neoprene wetsuit and snorkel gear to take to the chilly blue waters, you can observe the carnival of multi-colored fish swimming around you with astonishing clarity.
It's best to also save some time to explore the lush forests of the surrounding Cerrado ecosystem (home to monkeys and macaws) on foot, bike, or horseback. Outings to these reserves typically include transportation and an authentic lunch served at the fazenda.
Natural Aquarium (Aquário Natural)
Located within the Reserva Ecológica Baía Bonita near Bonito, the Aquario Natural is an ideal place to get your feet wet before venturing further afield to other rivers.
This river is one of the best snorkeling spots in Bonito due to the purity of the water and the incredible visibility (the riverbed is composed of white calcified snail shells). When illuminated by the sun’s rays, the surface shines with an otherworldly blue hue.
Only 7.4 miles (12km) from Bonito, the Formoso River Ecological Park (Parque Ecológico Rio Formoso) features transparent, fish-filled waters that can be navigated by donning snorkeling and diving gear or by hopping into a raft and cascading down the rapids.
Rio da Prata
The Recanto Ecológico Rio da Prata is a nature reserve located 32 miles (51 km) from Bonito upon a fazenda. In addition to snorkeling and floating down two rivers (Rio Olho d’Água and Rio da Prata), you can hike through tropical forests inhabited by monkeys and macaws.
Cachoeiras do Rio do Peixe
The clear waters of the River of Fish (Rio do Peixe) are rife with colorful schools of sharp-toothed pacu and golden-scaled dourado, which can be viewed while hiking along the riverbanks or diving into natural pools and cachoeiras (waterfalls). A thrilling highlight is jumping off a rocky promontory into the lyrically named Rainbow Pool (Poço do Arco Iris).