Exploring Arraial do Cabo

The land of hidden gems. That’s officially the new slogan of Brazil. I haven’t told the secretary of tourism yet but he’ll understand.

It seems like around every turn, in every region, there’s a “can’t miss” place that locals rave about. It’s a beach, park, waterfall, neighborhood, etc. that you just don’t hear from until you’re within range. These are places that I affectionately refer to as hidden gems, and Brazil is full of them.

Arraial do Cabo Brazil

Locals and travelers alike kept telling us that while in Buzios we had to make time to go see “some of the best beaches in Brazil.” With a bold statement like that, we pushed our return to Rio back and went to see what the fuss was all about.

After a great weekend in Buzios we traded in the dune buggy for a public bus and short ride south to Arraial do Cabo.

Arraial do Cabo Harbor

We were met at the harbor in town by the local boat tour organizer and he offered us a 4-hour trip for R$50 ($22USD) per person. Gabriel quickly rebutted with R$20 and we all settled on R$25 ($11USD).

It was low-season and we were six deep (after meeting another Argentine couple), so we had all the leverage.

Arraial do Cabo Harbor

Joined by a large Brazilian family already waiting onboard, we lifted anchor and set out to sea.

Arraial do Cabo Travel Guide

Colorful fishing boats, rolling green hills dotted with beautiful homes and bright turquoise waters greeted us.

Arraial do Cabo Brazil Boat Tour

We made our way across the cove to Ilha do Cabo Frio aka Ilha do Farol (Cabo Frio/Farol Island).

Arraial do Cabo Brazil Praia Ilha da FarolI mean… c’mon. This is Praia Ilha da Farol (Farol Island Beach), our first stop of the day.

Arraial do Cabo Brasil Praia Ilha da Farol

We docked close to shore and I instantly flung myself overboard. Believe it or not, this is one of the better back flips I have ever done. Sad, I know.

Arraial do Cabo - Ilha do FarolJust a couple of dudes swimming in pristine blue water and running our toes through the whitest of sand.

We were originally scheduled to go to four different beaches but the water was pretty rough coming in from the open sea so we ended up spending most of the day here.

Nobody complained.

To cap off a great day on a deserted tropical island with good friends, we stopped for one of the freshest feasts of my life on the way back.

Arraial do Cabo - Fresh Oysters

The most delicious oysters I’ve ever had in my life, caught directly behind me, eaten on a floating restaurant. Usually I like some horseradish and cocktail sauce on my oysters, but all these needed was a little lime and they were good to go.

They easily rank amongst the best Brazilian foods I’ve had.

We eventually made our way to shore and caught a bus back to Rio, but not before I added Arraial do Cabo to my list of beautiful hidden gems here in Brazil.

On the way home I sat quietly looking out the window with a big smile on my face, just thinking about what’s next. The problem with discovering new places is, it just makes you want to do it more!

Arraial do Cabo Tourist Map
Arraial do Cabo Tourist Map


My name is Gareth Leonard, a Marketing Director turned World Traveler with a passion for slow, meaningful travel. I have been traveling the world full-time for the past 9+ years and document it all on Instagram and YouTube. Come join me!


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