We arrived in Rio and promptly left: we were waiting to enjoy the city until the days surrounding the final of the World Cup. We made our way to the beach resort town of Buzios, which has been pegged as Brazil’s St. Tropez. During high season and weekends, the posh come to kick off amongst Buzios’ cobbled streets and massive dance clubs. We were there during neither of these times, and enjoyed our midweek vacation in a pretty relaxed style.
Buzios is one of those places where it is very easy to come for a day or two and casually keep extending your stay, until you at some point find out what day it is and realize that you have stayed for a week.
This was even easier for us as we stayed at a great hostel. Lagoon Backpackers is located a short walk from Geriba Beach and a short bus ride from the centre. It is a welcoming and very chilled out hostel and time simply seemed to slip away from us.
Buzios has a lot on offer: nice restaurants, great bars, a multitude of beaches, surfing, and cheap buggy rentals to make it easy to explore all of it. We hired one of said buggies and proceeded to visit almost every beach along the edge of the peninsula.
There are more than enough beaches in Buzios to entertain you for days. We visited Praia da Tartaruga, which is one of the more developed, offering a string of beachside restaurants and bars. After some lounging on the far end of the sand, we caught the first half of the Argentina vs. Switzerland game, accompanied by a group of Chileans who (as appeared to be keeping in South American style) were supporting Switzerland for the sole reason that they wanted Argentina to lose.
After a couple of Antarctica beer, we carried on our way. We circled near the tip of the peninsula, where the peaks of hills offered amazing views of sheltered bays, sailboats, rocky coastline, and the beautiful blue ocean stretching into the distance. Perhaps our favourite beach was Brava, where we found not only a great surf shop but s small, beautiful beach with more than enough waves to play in. As the sun was on its way down, we hesitated to linger too long, as there were more places to explore on our way home.
The next day, with a crew from the hostel, we went to Arraial do Cabo, ready to explore what was promised to be some of the most beautiful beaches in Brazil. From Buzios, you can take a bus directly to Arraial do Cabo or, more frequently, take one bus to Cabo Frio and another to the final destination. The trip will take about an hour, maybe more. Once you get deposited in Arraial, there will be no shortage of beachfront touts attempting to sell you a tour to visit the surrounding beaches and sites. We were with someone who had been to the area before and, in his opinion, the four-hour tour wasn’t worth it. There were only two beaches worth visiting: Prainhas and Farol. The tour generally takes you to four sites, and prices start at R$50. When I say start, I mean that 50 reals is the price you will be initially quoted, and it is up to you to negotiate it down from there.
Farol is only accessible by boat, but Prainhas can be reached by either water or land. In theory it is possible to walk to the beach from Arraial, but I would estimate it would be at least an hour over a very large hill. Taxis are an option, but are rather few and far between in town, and we never had the opportunity to ask one for a price. We were mainly shopping for a boat to take us there and bring us back, but as their main business is tours, this proved to a bit of a mission. We finally found a boat that would take the six of us over for R$100 (about $50) and bring us back a few hours later. It turned out in our favour that a Chilean family had been sold on the same boat, but they were after the tour. We were lucky enough to get to tag along on their trip.
The first stop was the famed Farol, a beach of pristine white sand reminiscent, to me, of those found in Queensland, Australia. The water was stunning, fading from a shallow green to a stunning azure. The temperature was by no means tropical, and the swim to shore from the boat certainly woke up the senses. We had a couple dips, went for a walk along the gorgeous sand, and were back in the water when Tim saw it.
A whale had made it’s way through the channel from open sea, into the sort of bay these beaches frame. He saw a spout of water shoot into the air, and within a few minutes a couple of boats had gathered around the area. He got everyone moving as quickly as he could, and it wasn’t too long before we were back in the boat, shooting off in the direction of the whales.
There were two. Humpbacks. A mother and her calf, and we had the good fortune to hang out alongside them for at least ten minutes. We followed them out to the open sea through the rocky channel between the beaches, and then they were gone.
After a quick tour of some of the beautiful rock formations along the other side of the island, we headed to Prainhas, our second beach. In the shelter of the huge hill that one would have to walk over if there wanted to make it here on foot, we had a limited amount of sun left, and kept relocating our circle of sarongs to chase it. This is certainly a morning beach. Almost as stunning as Farol, opposite, we lounged on the chalk-white sand until it was time to go home.