Arraial do Cabo and the paradise beaches of Rio

Fabio Jardelino | Live the World

November 23, 2022

The city of Rio is considered for many around the world the Wonder City. Full of amazing places, both natural and constructed by man, Rio is also the heart of Brazilian culture, vibrant and diversified. In the city, you can easily find amazing monuments, museums, libraries, Bohemian neighborhoods, and even natural spots used by artists and poets to get inspiration from

But did you know that the city of Rio is actually the Capital of the State that bears the same name? And even though Brazil is a country of continental dimensions, the Rio de Janeiro's State is actually one of the smallest. However, the state holds incredible and paradisiacal spots, such as the little municipality of Arraial do Cabo

The history tells that this region was first occupied by nomads that arrived in the area about five thousand years ago. They lived in small groups on top of the hills close to the beaches, from where they used to get basic food like fish and mollusks. At the time of the arrival of the Portuguese, the native tribes of Tupinambá were the majority population over there, growing a rich culture - including the production of ceramic stools. With the colonization process, the natives had to leave the place, and the Portuguese colonies created the first fortification to protect Rio from French and British corsairs attacks.

© iStock / Phaelnogueira

Nowadays, Arraial do Cabo is a small Municipality, with tourism being the main economic activity. With baby-blue watercolors, the sea of Arraial do Cabo can be related to Caribbean stunt beaches, with white sand and very smooth waves. It is not a picturesque fisherman village, but also not a place full of resorts. It is something in the middle, and maybe this is why this place is so amazing.

The boat trip & beaches not to miss 

Arraial do Cabo has fantastic beaches to visit: to see them all, my tip is to start your day with the boat trip around the cape - they usually stop at the beaches for a swim. This trip goes typically around places like Prainhas do Pontal do Atalaia, Praia do Forno, and ends at the Praia do Farol, located in an Island nearby the cape. The Ilha do Farol (Lighthouse Island), has controlled access; this means you cannot go on your own, but you can find several boats anchored at the Praia dos Anjos that would take you there. It is not necessary to schedule in advance. To this attraction, I would advise bringing snorkel equipment (or only a mask) to check the fish and sea life. 

© iStock / Gabriel Silva Prado

Gruta do Amor

Another amazing place to visit is the Gruta do Amor (Grotto of Love). The site has become through time a true symbol of love, and has a local myth around it saying that “every couple that enters there will be in love forever.” The cave is located at the Praia do Pontal do Atalaia, and you can get there with the boat trip or walking along the coastline to the right corner of the beach. But be careful, because when the tide is too high, you may need to go through the water. 

© iStock / Martinelli73

Relax by the beach

And of course, the best thing to do at Arraial do Cabo is doing 'nothing.' The place has a fascinating vibe, so if you want peace, just sit down at the beach and enjoy it. Keep in mind that you do not need to bring your own food and drinks. Around all the cape, you will find restaurants and places with excellent facilities (even tough the Island of Farol has no facilities at all, you can have food and drinks on the boat). 

How to get there

Departing from the city of Rio, you have several options to get to Arraial do Cabo. The best option here is to go by car. First, to get out of the Capital, you will take the Rio-Niterói Bridge, another touristic spot of Rio and a symbol of Brazilian engineering. Continue on BR-101, and you will take the road "Via Lagos" (RJ-124). In the municipality of "São Pedro da Aldeia," change to the road RJ-140. This way will go around the center of Cabo Frio and will take you approximately 22km to arrive at Arraial do Cabo. Keep in mind that with the regular traffic, this trip can take up to 3 hours, but in summer and vacations, it can last 5 or 6 hours easily.

© iStock / Phaelnogueira

Of course, you also have public transportation options: You can go by bus, for example. For that option, you have two choices. The first one is to take a bus from Rio's Bus Station. Remember that summer is the high season, so schedule your ticket in advance. There are 16 trips per day (both ways), and the tickets' price starts from 50 reais (or so, 8 euros). Attention: the cheapest tickets give you access to buses but without air conditioning - and I do not recommend this option, considering that in summer, the heat in Rio can go quickly up to 40ºc. The second option here is to find shuttles from the airport in Rio or the hotel you are checked in - it can be more expensive, but it is more practical.

Enjoy your trip to Arraial do Cabo and the paradise beaches of Rio! 

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