This material compliments of Rum & Reggae Guidebooks
Introduction to Búzios
(Rum & Reggae's Guide to Brazil - Rio Chapter, 11/12/2005)
This once-upon-a-time lazy beach town has beengroomed for greatness in tourism for nearly four decades. Over the years a constant flow of international celebrities, pioneered by Brigitte Bardot, and Brazilian social heavyweights has brought investment, style, and support for a solid tourism sector. Búzios complements Petrópolis as the beach retreat of Rio’s rich and famous. It also rivals anyplace in the country for Argentine ex-pats and tourists (Búzios is one of the few places where English is more widely spoken). Stretched across a 5-mile/8-kilometer-long peninsula, greater Búzios offers visitors 11 beaches, great and small. Centered around Rua das Pedras, a seaside road made of ill-fitting stones, reminiscent of an Argentine mountain town, is the glitz trip Búzios offers to those who come here to go shopping, eat out, and party in the street. On Brazilian summer nights, this road is usually loaded with a “parade” of tourists. The center of town, Praça Santos Dumont, is just one block inland. Around the plaza and down Rua Manuel Turíbio de Farias, which runs parallel to Rua das Pedras, you will find more of the same Internet centers, restaurants, boutiques, and bars that have attracted tourists for years.
Along the Orla Bardot, a one-way street that extends from Rua das Pedras north towards Armação and Ossos beaches, you will find a slew of nice restaurants and bars, each with its own slice of ocean view. The historical remnants of Búzios—the fishing village—are focused around Praça dos Ossos and the northernmost end of Armação. This part of town is not nearly as fabulous as the center, but it has more soul. It offers a mellow alternative to the posh and circumstance that tends to overwhelm along Rua das Pedras. The pousadas (“inns”) here are simple, family owned, and surprisingly comfortable. The owners will stay up all night sharing stories and telling you about Búzios, Brazil, or Argentina, and their view of the world, if you let them.
Farther from the center of town and down the peninsula, numerous neighborhoods offer their own charm. They are full of rich Brazilians with beach homes in Búzios and, apart from numerous pousadas, offer little more than cheesy tourist trinket shops, a handful of restaurants, and the same stores in any small town—hardware, pharmacy, barber, etc. Ferradura, Manguinhos, and Geribá each have long white-sand beaches that overflow with tourists in the summer. Punctuated around the peninsula, various beaches attract different crowds, from elite families and their friends mixed among locals to surfers and nudists. The center of town, and main tourist dock, is right on Praia do Canto. Praia Armenção looks upon the fishing harbor. Praia dos Ossos is a protected, backyard beach for the small houses built along the water. Famous for celebrity sightings, packed Praia João Fernandes attracts a healthy crowd. Both Azeda and João Fernandinho beaches are very protected, ideal for snorkeling. Praia Brava is the surf beach, and just across the ridge, along a well-worn trail, Praia Olho de Boi (Bull’s Eye Beach), is a secluded beach for naturists and those seeking to eliminate tan lines.
Finally, you will not leave Búzios without running into someone from Argentina. Most of them are tourists, just like you, but the expat Argentines who have been living in Búzios for 15 to 20 years are a rare breed indeed. If you find yourself in conversation with one, don’t be too hasty about leaving. They are a rich resource of regional history, an alternative point of view to Brazil, and, more often than not, generous and sincere.