By Michela DellaMonica, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – As the heat of summer approaches, planning for weekend escapes to Rio’s nearby beaches is positively essential, and a popular destination is Cabo Frio. Located 155km north of downtown Rio, “Cape Cold” is a great beach city for a family getaway, a weekend trip with friends or diving adventure.
Named after its crystal clear ocean water, the cape’s seas are typically cold year-round but most refreshing during the summer months. Carnival season is an ideal time to visit thanks to Cabo Frio’s Cabofolia on January 31, 2014, the second-biggest celebration in the state. Until November 21st, the city is also celebrating its 398th anniversary with various sporting events and concerts.
The main attraction lies in the white sand and postcard-perfect beaches such as Praia do Forte, the main beach in the center of Cabo Frio which can get crowded during the summer months. A fifteen-minute drive from the city center, however, is Praia do Peró, a great beach for families and sunbathers.
Catch the surfers in action at Praia das Dunas, while nearby Praia das Conchas has calmer water and is connected to Praia do Peró by the Itajuru canal, along which are found several seafood restaurants and small boutique stores. Mullet, snapper and whiting fish are in abundance here, and walk off dinner with a hike to the lookout point of Garganta alongside Praia das Conchas.
Of the numerous islands surrounding Cabo Frio, Ilhas dos Anjos is famous for having the Região dos Lagos best shrimp can be found. Ilha dos Pargos is rich with white snapper fish, Ilha do Japonês offers great hiking trails and Ilha Comprida is the one for diving and underwater fishing.
Rich in a history that dates back to the early 1600’s, Cabo Frio has plenty to offer for daytime tours, too. The Forte de São Mateus do Cabo Frio was built by the Portuguese in 1616 with the aim of defending the coast against the French, English and Dutch invaders.
The cannons used in battle still face the sea and overlook Praia do Forte and Arraial do Cabo, an extension of Cabo Frio with its own stunning beaches such as Praia do Forno. In nearby Bairro do Passagem stands the church of São Benedito, built in 1701 for the slaves who helped build the local houses.
A variety of restaurants and bars and hundreds of pousadas (guesthouses) make for plentiful options for visitors. Pousada Cambucá is located right in the center of Cabo Frio by Praia do Forte, or for a more relaxed stay, try the Pousada Porto Canal. Fine-dining can be found in abundance, too, with seafood specialists Galapagos the perfect way to round off a visit.