By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – If the city crowds of Rio ever feel too busy, there is an escape just over 100 miles north on the beach-blessed peninsula of Armação dos Búzios, better known simply as Búzios. Wealthy Cariocas have long made the beach town a favorite destination, but it suits all budgets with a range of accommodations and activities.
The name Búzios is derived from Portuguese and refers to a shell fish that was common in the area. The peninsula was settled by native inhabitants long before the Europeans arrived, but the village Armação dos Búzios came to be when whaling was a big industry during the 18th century.
In the 1950s the population of Búzios was accelerated by the construction of vacation homes and hotels. Yet Búzios still hadn’t reached its full potential until Brigitte Bardot graced the sandy beaches in 1964, sparking interest from around the world.
When the town became its own municipality in 1995, more development started, new condominiums were built, exclusive shops, restaurants and even a few nightclubs opened. Now in its modern form, Búzios is it’s own bustling little scene with relatively well developed infrastructure.
The epicenter of Búzios is called Rua das Pedras (Stone Street), also referred to as Centro. This is where the bus station (or stop with a small office) is and the main peer for tour boats. It is also where the biggest concentration of shops and restaurants, and a large number of accommodations are. From here everything is a R$25-50 taxi ride away, and everything is organized by beach area.
American expatriate in Rio, Roshni Thakker, who is the guest relations director at boutique travel and tour agency XperienceRio, shares her favorite thing about Búzios. “No matter where you are, at a restaurant, your hotel, on the road even, you are surrounded by the energy of water.”
Out of over twenty beaches, one of the largest is Geribá, which has a long wide look at the crystal clear sea, and a slight break for long board surfers to ride. Here one can walk out into the cool water for fifty yards before it reaches above the waste, and although often a little windy, is an easy place to spend the day.
Another popular beach is João Fernandes, which is smaller and more crowded, with green water and music from the quiosques. This area will feel more like a party atmosphere but is shielded from the wind and has a lot of great pousadas (bed & breakfasts) in close walking distance.
Tartaruga (Turtle) beach is another hot spot beach similar to João Fernandes in size and facilities, it is easy to take a R$13 water taxi to here from Centro, which is a fun way to see the shoreline. Ferradura is another popular beach, but less crowded and developed with public infrastructure, unless one is staying at one of the pousadas close by.
Some of the most luxury places to stay in Buzios are in Centro along the Rua Morro do Humaitá, for example Casas Brancas Boutique Hotel & Spa, which costs around R$1,000 per night. Another option just next to there is Pousada Abracadabra, which also hosts one of the top restaurants, Mistico Sunset Lounge & Restaurant.
Watching the sunset here over a excellent menu with fantastic service will suit the most sophisticated tastes, while staying in the price range of some of Rio de Janeiro’s top restaurants (R$80-120/entrée). Another delicious choice recommended which is a little more accessible will be the Italian eatery, Restaurante Parvati also in Centro but on Rua das Pedras.
There are hundreds of pousadas to chose from at various price-points but a recommended mid-level option to consider is pousada Caminho das Aroeiras, which is easy 10-minute walking distance between both Centro and Ferradura beach. This quiet get-away will feel intimate and comfortable, without breaking the bank.
The easiest route to Búzios from Rio is by bus from the Rodoviaria, Rio’s central bus station. The tickets cost from R$40 to R$80 each way, depending on the service you choose. It is recommended during high season, December to March, that you purchase your tickets in advance, however you will need a Brazilian credit card to buy online.
The ride there takes roughly three hours and drops you off right in Centro Búzios. The bus departs from Rodoviaria almost hourly. Once there, there are plenty of taxis, or car and buggys are available to rent for R$50-60 for the day, drivers license and credit card are required.