By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In a quick 2.5 hours ride out of Rio de Janeiro in direction of its more famous neighbor Búzios, lies Arraial do Cabo “the town at the cape”. The small fishing village attracts visitors with its turquoise waters and white sandy beaches and is also popular for diving trips.
The favorite thing to do for most visitors is to take a boat trip around the many beaches surrounding Arraial. The tour takes around 3 to 4 hours and visits the Prainhas beaches (also known as Ponto de Atalaia), the Gruta Azul (blue cavern), partly environmentally protected Praia do Farol and Praia do Forno.
Praia do Forno and Prainhas can also be reached on foot or by car respectively, whereas Praia do Farol lies on a small island in front of Arraial. During the boat trip one can cross over to the beaches to lie in the sun or take a bath in the turquoise waters.
Other attractions are 42km long Praia Grande that stretches from Arraial do Cabo all the way to Saquarema or to watch the sunset at Ponto de Atalaia, one of the few spots in Brazil where the sun sets into the sea.
The region is also popular among divers as its enjoys a rare oceanographic phenomenon where nutrient-rich deep water rises into more shallow waters attracting many fishes, turtles, grouper, squid and lobster. Two ships that crushed into the bays’ rocks provide other interesting diving spots.
“Friends told us it’s the best place to dive close to Rio,” diving enthusiast Nicolás Fernández told The Rio Times. “The spot we liked most is called Savo das Abóboras. We saw different fish and had our final diving test there,” he added.
The climate in Arraial do Cabo, that lies just in front of Cabo Frio in Rio de Janeiro state’s Lake Region, is more leveled than in the city, as the wind around the cape stabilizes temperatures. It is also one of the places with the most hours of sunshine in Rio de Janeiro state.
For those who love to go out at night and party, Arraial do Cabo doesn’t provide as many options as hustle and bustle neighboring Búzios. The town that was founded in 1503 by discoverer Américo Vespúcio is still rather small and undeveloped regarding hotels and restaurants, although there are some nice beach bars with live music at night at Praia Grande.
Arraial “has some really nice beaches. Unfortunately, it rained and you couldn’t see much when we were there, but we still enjoyed the town. We also found a charming restaurant with great seafood, ‘o Bacalhau do Tuga’,” Mr. Fernández recommended.
Arraial do Cabo can be reached by car from Rio by crossing the bridge to Niterói and following the BR-101 until Rio Bonito and then the BR-124 in direction of Cabo Frio. The destination is also served by the 1001 bus company, who has buses leaving every two hours (with some buses leaving in between that interval) from the Novo Rio bus station. One way is around R$60 and takes three hours.