Three hours east of Rio de Janeiro lies the peninsula of Cabo Frio. It would not be unreasonable to think of Cabo Frio as the Cape Cod of Rio de Janiero. It is a favorite vacation spot for Cariocans (the name for people from Rio) because of its wonderful beaches, diverse activities, great weather, and close proximity to the city. The peninsula itself, however, is actually made up of 3 areas: Arraial do Cabo, Cabo Frio, and Armação dos Buzios.
We ended up here on a whim. As we tried to leave Sao Paulo for Paraty, we found out that the buses were all sold out. So, because there was availability on the buses, we decided that Cabo Frio would be our next destination. Our bus was an overnighter, getting us to the town of Cabo Frio in the morning. From there, we took a local bus to Arraial do Cabo only to determine that the hostels (and campground) there were not what we wanted. This brought us to Buzios, a short bus ride away, but that quick stop in Arraial do Cabo was enough to make us want to come back- for the beaches at least.
Armação dos Búzios
Buzios, which is sometimes called Buzios Aires because of the large amount of Argentinians that vacation there, is a great place for a beach vacation. Although Arraial do Cabo claims a few of Brazil’s best beaches, Buzios also offers its fair share of nice beaches to enjoy. Once in Buzios, we asked around to see which ones were worth our time. Here are a few of the beaches we tested and our opinions about them:
- João Fernandes is the most well known and popular beach, but is very thin and becomes very crowded when the tide comes in. This is Anna’s favorite beach because of the sparkling water, little to no waves, and all of the amenities.
- João Fernandinho is a smaller beach right along side João Fernandes over a small rocky strip.
- Praia Armação/Centro is right near the main downtown area and has nice boardwalks and restaurants though it is not good for swimming.
- Praia Osso is a little ways down the boardwalk from Centro before you reach the church, but is very similar to Centro and not ideal for swimming.
- Praia Azeda is labelled as the best place to watch the sunset in Buzios, though it is a bit of a walk from the main tourist area.
- Praia Geriba is a much larger beach with plenty of space to play beach soccer, play in the waves, build sand castles, or take in the sun’s rays. This was Adam’s favorite beach. It was also the only beach with waves large enough to surf and that was not in a cove.
- Praia Ferradurinha is a very small beach, but equally as crowded as João Fernandes. It is a little harder to find, but has very calm waters. May be a good place to learn how to Stand Up Paddleboard.
- Praia de Ferradura is a larger beach that is sheltered in a cove surrounded by large, private homes. This protected it from normal ocean waves. It was also the least crowded beach we visited in Buzios.
- Praia de Manguinhos is across the peninsula from Geriba and is lined with restaurants which had very nice waterfront seating areas. Not for swimming.
During our time in Buzios, we stayed in a pretty nice Che Lagarto Hostel which was close to the center of Buzios for the first night. Che Lagarto is a chain of hostels scattered throughout South America and it has a reputation of being a bit pricey. This is not our preferred type of hostel so we switched to a cheaper, less crowded hostel called Lagoa Beach Hostel. There were not many guests at this fairly new hostel and in fact, we ended up talking to the owner quite a bit because we were the only guests for most of our stay. The owner, it just so happened, was a young German girl who started her life in South America in Chile. Where in Chile? Pucon. Where in Pucon? Hostel El Refugio. That is right. She worked in the same hostel that we did when she first came to South America. What a coincidence!
Arraial do Cabo
While we were in the Cabo Frio area, we spent most of our time in Buzios, but we ventured to Arraial do Cabo for one day. You see, part of the reason we decided to come to this area was because we wanted to visit as many of the top beaches in Brazil as possible. Arraial do Cabo on the peninsula of Cabo Frio is host to 3 of the top 20 beaches on the list. Even though we found Buzios to be a better spot to find a hostel, the beaches in Arraial do Cabo did live up to the hype. Clear, blue, refreshing sea water, and fine, white, windswept sand, and on top of that, they were not overcrowded with people.
To visit the best beaches in Cabo Frio it is necessary to take a boat. We took a boat tour from Praia Dos Anjos to some of the hard to get to beaches that were on our list. First we stopped at Farol Beach, then Prainhas do Pontal do Atalaia, and after that we visited Forno Beach before returning to land. Though all the beaches were good, Farol Beach was definitely our favorite and one of the best beaches we have been too. This boat trip is highly recommended if you are in the area, but try to haggle down the price with the people selling you the tour.
TIP: It does not make much difference which tour operator you go with because they all stop in the same spots, unless you opt to go on a longer tour or do some scuba diving.
After our week of relaxing in Buzios, it became one of our favorite spots in Brazil. Next stop, the Marvelous City…