By Hakan Almerfors, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – The name Búzios is derived from Portuguese and refers to a shell fish that was common in the area.
Before the Europeans came to explore the area it was inhabited by Indians from the Tupinambás tribes. The first century was a tumultuous one with battles, pirates and hostile takeovers – just like in Arraial do Cabo it was the trade with the valuable Brazil Wood that was the reason. When there was no more wood in the region the population went over to fishing and agriculture.
Whaling became important during the 18th century, it is at this time that todays village Armação dos Búzios came to be. Praia dos Ossos (Bone Beach) got the name during this time since this is were the whale carcasses were deposited. This abruptly ended with the arrival of super efficient North American whaling ships who quickly killed off the whale population in the region.
Búzios was also used as a stop for ships during the lucrative slave trade. Runaway slaves joined together in communities known as quilombos, after being freed they settled permanently in the area. After this fishing and banana plantations established themselves as most important for the economy on the peninsula.
In the 1950´s the big landowners started to plot the land for vacation homes, modern Búzios started to take shape. The land was sold to people from Rio that was looking for somewhere spend the weekend away from the city. The era of tourism had started.
When Brigitte Bardot decided to spend a few weeks in Búzios a real boom started. Images of the megastar talking to fishermen and basking in the sun on pristine beaches made the whole world open their eyes to this area. Houses and roads were built, the town was modernized and the first pousadas opened their doors. When Bardot arrived in 1964 the village probably had 500 inhabitants, today it has spread out and you have over 30,000 inhabitants on the peninsula.
A large impact is felt from Argentinian immigrants, who started coming to Búzios in the 1970s, and today run many restaurants and pousadas. When the town became its own municipality in 1995 lots of new projects started: Many new condominiums were built, exclusive shops, restaurants and nightclubs opened. Today some call it the St. Tropez of Brazil.
One of the biggest attractions in Búzios are all the beaches, on this relatively small peninsula you have over 25 beaches! Some who are worth to mention are Geribá which is the surf beach number one here. Open sea creates a decent beach break, you can rent boards. In the afternoon the beach bar Fishbone always attracts a crowd.
On João Fernandes you have a crowded beach with green water and music from the quiosques, within walking distance from the center. Ferradura is a popular quite large beach that is good for snorkeling and diving.
There are plenty of other activities available. Boat trips, Go Kart and a 18-hole golf course just to mention a few. The shopping along the walking street Rua da Pedras is another attraction. Many good restaurants and a classy nightlife complete Búzios as a top range tourist destination.
Hakan Almerfors is Swedish and has been living in Rio de Janeiro since 2003. He has been working with tourists ever since, in 2007 he created the Rio travel information site Gringo-Rio.com