When the (real) sun disappeared behind a cloud, I figured I should keep exploring. I considered a chicken Caesar salad at the nearby restaurant Palm Beach but decided to go a bit further afield. In the jungle, I found butterflies in mesh tents slurping from orange and pineapple slices and thatched huts with educational placards hiding electric equipment. Nature sounds piped through speakers, but the hundreds of varieties of tropical fauna weren’t plastic. I hope those aren’t real, I thought, wincing as I wound around the pathways to get a better look at a bunch of flamingos.


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Rent fins that are neither too tight, nor too loose, and that don't hurt. Having a fin fall off when you most need it, is potentially very bad. And getting sores on your feet from fins that have hard spots or are too tight will ruin your time. Keep in mind that your feet will be wet, and will often shrink a little in the cooler water, and so a snug fit is important. Don't even think about not having fins. They are essential for safety. They give you a tremendous amount of swimming force and will save you a ton of energy. Read more about the different types of fins here.
Ilha Grande, almost exactly midway between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, is heaven on earth—somewhat untouched, still, with deeply green jungle, turquoise water, and a totally laid-back vibe. Snorkeling here might include exploring colonial-era ship-wrecks, but take a dip in the Lagoa Azul first (think Brooke Shields in The Blue Lagoon) with delicious water temperatures in the mid- to upper-70s providing the perfect habitat for seahorses.
Bali is like Hawaii minus the high price tag and the strip malls but major tourist spots like Kuta and Seminyak are regularly over-run by marauding bands of drunken tourists in high season. With a little exploration, you will find all kinds of hidden gems that are unlike anywhere else such as Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, Candi Dasa and Sanur (or take a boat to the less developed paradise Lombok).
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