The Brazilian Caribbean: Arraial do Cabo
By Carolina Brito
Day 1: Arriving in Heaven
After spending three days in the middle of the buzz of Río de Janeiro, my boyfriend and I continued our trip to the north, more precisely to the Regiao de Los Lagos.
From the Rodoviaria, (the bus station), we took a bus to Arraial do Cabo, a small city located three hours away from Río. It used to be part of Cabo Frío but it became independent in 1965.
You can get to Arraial only by bus or by car. The bus is very cheap: 55R. When we arrived, it seemed to be a very peaceful town, almost boring I would say.
We stayed in a small hostel in Praia dos Anjos. I think this was the best location because from dos Anjos you can take different excursions to visit the most beautiful beaches surrounding Arraial.
That same afternoon, we went to Praia do Forno. As soon as we got there, I forgot my initial disappointment.
A Hidden Paradise
Forno was a hidden paradise: clear warm water where you could easily find marine animals as fishes and turtles. We spent the afternoon swimming and doing snorkel. You can get to Forno through a short path which begins next to dos Anjos.
If you do not want to walk, you can also take a taxi –boat. It is better if you visit Forno beach early because the sun sets at 5:00 pm due to the hills or “morros” surrounding the place.
At night, we took a walk around the port. We were just amazed because of the peacefulness we perceived there. It was probably very tranquil for those who like going out at night, but if you are looking for relaxing and natural landscapes, Arraial is definitely a great choice.
You are not going to find discos or crowded parties, but there are bars and restaurants where you can listen to good music and enjoy a nice meal.
Day 2: Exploring the Paradise
The second day, we hired an excursion around the most popular beaches. From Praia dos Anjos, there are boats that take you for 60R. This outing lasted four hours and it was one of the best experiences we had during our trip. We spent 40 minutes on each beach. The first one we visited was just Heaven: Ilha do Farol.
Since it is an island protected by the Brazilian Marines, wild nature is extremely well-cared for there. You will be amazed by the white sand and turquoise waters.
It was an unforgettable scene. You can only get to this island with a hired excursion. The trip continued to Portal do Atalaia and As Prainhas.
As soon as I saw these places, I understood why Arraial do Cabo is called “The Brazilian Caribbean”. We found a blue-sky sea and small waves ideal to have fun, practice water sports and find a variety of shoals.
The journey finished on the beach we had visited the previous day: Forno. However, the color of the water had changed due to the sunlight. It was brighter at midday.
We came back to dos Anjos by 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Since we wanted to go to Atalaia again, we took a "taxi boat" for 15R. Fishermen work with these taxi-boats.
They are very kind. That time, they shared sodas and sandwiches with us.
We spent the rest of the day in Atalaia. At night, while drinking a beer at the hostel balcony, I thought: "I'm living Heaven"
Day 3: Sweet Prainha
The third day, we visited another well- known beach in Arraial: the beautiful Prainha. Some people were afraid of going there because it is located next to a humble neighborhood which resembles a Río’s favela. I assure you: it is absolutely safe and sound. You will find small restaurants along the beach where you can taste seafood and other meals for 30R.
The sea itself is amazing: crystal clear water where you can swim or go kayaking. If you like hiking, you can take a short path through the hill next to the seashore, which will take you to Gracainha, a small beach where you can usually find turtles. As in Forno beach, try to go early because of the short daylight period during the afternoon.
Day 4: Knowing Buzios
The fourth day we took a day trip to Buzios. This city is one hour away from Arraial. We took the local bus (It costs 4R). We have been told that Buzios was a touristic destination, plenty of shops and places to party at night. We decided to visit the north of the city.
Our first impression was that it was a very commercial place. Everything was more expensive than in Río de Janeiro.
It was too crowded and we felt that it was too “Argentinian”. Maybe, tourists choose Buzios rather than Arraial do Cabo or Cabo Frío because it has a more cosmopolitan environment. First, we went to Joao Fernández beach.
It was nice, with clear water where you could easily see fishes. Next to Joao Fernández, we found Azeda and Adezinha, two small beaches very similar to the first one.
Even though we liked those beaches, they were not as beautiful as the ones in Arraial. We took a walk along Rua das Pedras, a sidewalk next to the seashore which is the center for social meetings.
You can sit there to enjoy the sunset. It is the ideal place for those who like the “see and be seen”. There are plenty of shops to buy takeaway food.
You can taste snacks like shrimp pie and delicious desserts made of acaí for less than 20R. There are buses that take you to different points of Buzios for 3R.
We didn’t have time to meet the south of the city, but we were told that Geribá beach is one of the best in all Buzios. Maybe next summer…
In my opinion, Buzios is for those who want to have fun at night, go to the disco and meet new people.
If you want to relax and have full contact with nature and the Caribbean--like beaches, you should go to Arraial instead.
Day 5: Saying goodbye
We spent our last day in Arraial visiting the beaches we had enjoyed the most: Praia do Forno and Pontal do Atalaia. It was Saturday.
Even though the seashore was very crowded, we had fun because local people were playing music and organizing aquatic football matches. It seemed like a great party on the beach!
We devoted the afternoon to shopping. Women's outfits for the beach are just beautiful. Oh! This is an important tip: if you need to change money, you should go to the restaurant “Aqua da Boca”.
It is behind the bus station in Arraial. There, you will find Marcelo. We changed dollars for 3R each. It wasn’t the best offer, but you won’t find any other place to get money changed in Arraial.
I hope you find this guide useful and if you have the chance to visit Arraial do Cabo, don’t hesitate! I assure you will find yourself lost in Heaven.
Carolina Brito is an independent travel guide and freelance writer. She is also finishing her training course to become a teacher of English. In her spare time, she travels widely, especially to little-known destinations. She lives in Salta, Argentina.
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