By Kent E. St. John Senior Travel Editor
People from around the world head to Rio for its great beaches, and Cariocas or Rio residents head to Buzios, only 102 miles away, for their beach fix. Buzios is a perfect place to worship the Brazilian sun and sea.
Out into the Atlantic is a seven-mile long finger of Brazilian bliss, 23 beaches and hedonistic pleasures abound. To the mix add on authentic Brazilian villages and life.
This place, first settled by pirates and slavers, has never looked back. Year round tropical temps make the off-season period between March and June or September to November perfect. January is the busiest month. Cast your net into the vibrant world of Buzios.
At the White House
During the 2½ hour bus ride from Rio, the smattering of English, French and Italian betrays Buzios’s international appeal. That and wide-open vistas lead to a happy but crowded bus ride that costs less than the cost of a taxi from my hotel to the bus terminal in Rio.
It was obvious that I was headed to a special place. This was reinforced when I entered the Mediterranean-style pousada called Casas Brancas. It was more than I wanted to spend, but after walking out on my deck and gazing at the bay and town below, I gladly would have paid more. International tourists usually mean more bucks, but here they mean more pleasure.
I used my Holiday Inn price factor that justifies spending $85 a night. The HI at home costs the same with far less to offer. Buzios offers places at far less at buziosonline. If you have time and a few bucks go to buziosonline for rentals. With more than 100 hotels and inns you’re bound to get what you want.
From rip-roaring surf to calm clear inlets, there is a beach for everyone. It all depends on what beach experience you’re looking for. For a satellite view click here.
Geriba Beach is the big and energetic party beach. It’s got the waves and babes. This is a strut and party place. Beachfront bars fill for sunset and the music, and the action goes late into the night.
The Fishbone is massive and full of energy! For lunch grab a plastic table and chair and waiters will bring you a platter filled with lobsters and fish. Pick yours and they grill it up and serve.
Azeda Beach is totally different. It is small and calm with crystal clear water, and is perfect for snorkeling. You can get there from town by foot trail or by small taxi boats that are very inexpensive.
Ferradura and Joao Fernandinho are also good choices for sunning and chilling. With 23 choices, pack up sunscreen and sunglasses — there are no disappointments in Buzios!
Baptized in Buzios
It is a religious experience that requires no denomination; it’s all about going down. A fifteen-minute theory session on diving is followed by forty minutes of instruction on boat or beach with personal instructor. About 30 minutes away is Arraial do Cabo, one of Brazil’s top dive zones. Jump into the aquarium. Here are some reputable dive tours; Casamer, Mer Azul and True Blue.
Always wanted to hang ten? Avoid bad gnarly and get a one-day surfing lesson, surfer body not included. Jurgen Oliveir is the local surf god and teaches classes up to four people. Laser and wind surfing lessons are more available than coffee in this Brazilian paradise. The hardest part is to maintain the fuel for what is Brazil… nightlife.
My favorite ritual while in Buzios was viewing sunsets from the pool cliffside at Casa Brancas. Nightly the sun turned the sky violently red and orange and sail boats headed into harbor. The sound of people chatting below signaled that it was time to head down to Rua des Pedras or Stone Street.
This cobblestone street is the village’s main artery, tree covered and filled with bars, restaurants, and shops. As customary in Brazil a few libations are done at sidewalk cafes — and not just one. My favorite was Ponto’s. Just like the beaches, find one that suits your mood.
Strolling through the square usually produced running into those met earlier in the day; friends are easily made in Brazil. Music floats in the night air mixed with laughter. The cool ocean breezes keep Brazilian spirits high. Pleasant just doesn’t convey the scene. Utopia comes close. Traditionally Brazilians eat late and Buzios is no different than Rio.
Catch of the Day
Buzios is still a fishing village at heart and that is ever so apparent at the dinner table. Fortunately money is not an issue for dining well. From hole-in-the-wall to five-star, everything is available and most with local bounty.
Two of the best low cost options are Bar dos Pescadores (Fisherman’s bar) located just across from the fish market, and in the center Buzin is another good choice. Both use the “per kilo” method: pay for what it weighs.
Grilled anchovies and snapper as well as shrimp and squid are headliners. Top of the line is Satyricon located just across from Bardot Beach and Bridgit’s bronze statue. Bridgit Bardot is said to have put the village on the map.
Argentine beef, Italian pizza, Brazilian lobster and French classics round out the choices. Many restaurants convert to late-night venues since no self-respecting Brazilian thinks of turning in early. That is not to say all are loud and rowdy; a good cigar and drink with view are also represented.
If all the hedonistic pleasures make you feel guilty, there are cures. Two reserves in the area provide plenty of exploration. The Emerencias Reserve is a wonderful place to view Atlantic Forest vegetation as well as animal life. The hiking trails are soothing and tranquil. With luck you will see some of the last Golden Tamarin Monkeys in the area. The best trail is the one that goes all the way to Pero Beach.
The Taua Reserve is great for birding with over sixty different species. Top that with three hundred species of butterflies and you could get a crick in your neck. Mix in the orchids and there is color galore!
Uniquely it is privately owned by a one-time Attorney General, Tereza Kolantia, and not publicly funded. At the time of my visit there was no fee and tours could be arranged. Tereza was thinking of adding a symbolic fee that in my eyes is totally necessary. She has made the reserve an expensive passion.
The Pau Brasil APA (Environmental Protection Area) is another example of the area’s commitment to keeping tourism and nature in balance. The stretch from Tucans Beach to Cabo Frio is the largest and most important pau-brasil (Brazilian Hardwood) reserve in the state. The local efforts to maintain nature are astounding and get kudos!
It’s all About Choices
Sipping a capipirinhas on my last night in Buzios it occurred to me that I had a difficult decision to make: where and how to spend my last night’s celebration. That is what the area is all about… choices. Which beach? Trail or water taxi? Busy and rough or tranquil and sheltered? Fancy food or simple fare competes better than most places I’ve been. Thank goodness chain resorts do not fit into the lodging choices. They would lose! The only simple choice I could arrive at was that a return trip was certain.