Arraial do Cabo
Even closer to Rio de Janeiro than Buzios, Arraial do Cabo is a great weekend escape from the city and extremely popular with Cariocas. Arraial do Cabo has an authentic, Brazilian feel, and most of the tourists that visit this beach town are local rather than foreigners.
Arraial do Cabo’s Claim to Fame
With stunning white sand beaches that seem to stretch on forever, it’s easy to find a secluded spot of sand just for you. The water is as clear as glass, quite shallow, and perfect for swimming.
Arriving to Arraial Do Cabo
From Rio de Janeiro to Arraial do Cabo, the trip takes around 3 hours, and hits beautiful rural scenery. The entire path is very safe, and does not pass through any dangerous zones. Like Buzios, the route is quite a straight shot and it is almost impossible to get lost, as long as you write down some directions and bring a map, but your rental agency should also be able to give you a GPS if you prefer.
If you prefer to take a bus, many leave Rio de Janeiro for Arraial do Cabo, as it is an extremely popular weekend trip with locals. Many of the beaches in Arraial do Cabo are within walking distance from each other, or you can rent a bicycle once you’ve arrived. It is not a town where a car is necessary, especially if you are an active traveler.
Where to Stay
Arraial do Cabo has an excellent range of price options, and is a great value for money. The cost of accommodation does rise during high season (November through February), but low season can be a great deal.
Ocean View Hotel, on Prainha beach, is a 4 star option with great reviews at a great price. Its position on Prainha beach is unbeatable, with easy ocean access in front of the hotel, and walking distance to other beaches.
Pousada Thetis is near to Ocean View Hotel, and is also on Prainha beach. Though less luxurious and fancy but still comfortable, Pousada Thetis is also one-third the price of Ocean View Hotel.
For a less endowed budget, Hostel Villa Boas is the best value option in Arraial do Cabo. With dorms starting at 50 Brazilian reais, it is difficult to beat the price. It is located in the center of town, almost equidistant from a beach on either side just 15 minutes of walking away.
Where to Eat
Because Arraial do Cabo is a popular domestic destination, Brazilian food reigns supreme. Bacalhau do Tuga is extremely well known for its delectable meat options, and has a European Portuguese menu.
Por Do Sol is another popular joint, though more casual, and serves traditional Brazilian food and seafood. Arraial do Cabo is famous for seafood squash soup served in a squash bowl, and this restaurant does it best.
What to Do
Beach hopping is the most popular pastime in Arraial do Cabo, and great weather makes it possible year round. In fact, the town is known as the place “where the sun spends winter”. With more than 10 beaches of every size and personality, there truly is a beach for everyone in Arraial do Cabo. And because there are so many and they are so large, you are never right on top of someone else, a welcome break from the busy Rio de Janeiro beaches.
Some of the beaches in Arraial do Cabo can only be reached by boat, and they are the most beautiful. Because of this, boat tours have proliferated. You can ask at your hotel to sign up for a tour, or simply make your way down to Praia dos Anjos, where boat tour salesman gather and wait to bring tourists to the marina. Ranging in length from a few hours to a full day, the tours will bring you to a selection of the best isolated beaches that you’d otherwise not access.
Because the water is so clean and clear in Arraial do Cabo, swimming and snorkeling are two of the most popular activities. Almost every beachside restaurant and hotel offer snorkels for rent, so you don’t need to worry about bringing your own. Praia do Forno is an especially fun place to check out sea life.
Praia do Forno on a foggy day
Arraial do Cabo is an easy choice for tourists who like to stay active. If walking from beach to beach isn’t enough for you, there is a moderately easy hike from the marina of Praia dos Anjos to Praia do Forno. It only takes about 15 minutes, but be sure to wear proper shoes (and not flipflops), as the majority of the trail is not paved.
The view from the hike – Praia dos Anjos and the marina