I Didn’t Like Arraial Do Cabo

I’ve been trying to get away from Rio de Janeiro on long weekends and explore more of the surrounding areas.

I decided to check out Arraial do Cabo, on the basis of glowing reviews from friends.

When I got there, I was a bit surprised. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting, and quite different from nearby Buzios (which I really liked).

5 Things I Didn’t Expect about Arraial do Cabo

Arraial do Cabo arches

1. The weather in Arraial do Cabo in May is not great

Arraial do Cabo Maya bit of sun finally trying to peek through

A beach town is best enjoyed when the weather is good. You want to be able to enjoy the water, and the beach, and not have to bundle up to brave the elements.

Every day, it rained for at least a little bit, and was overall quite foggy, overcast, and chilly.

2. Arraial do Cabo is not very walkable

Arraial do Cabo streetsa typical street in Arraial do Cabo, the main path by the palm trees is actually NOT for walking, as the signs say it can collapse and is over a sewer

My favorite places and cities are always walkable.

I love being able to get a feel for the city by walking around, meeting people, and taking in the slower side of life.

But in Arraial do Cabo, it’s uncomfortable to walk. Most of the visitors drive in their car everywhere. The only other walkers seem to be teenagers from the neighboring favela.

The sidewalks are small, nonexistent, or littered with trash and debris. At night, there aren’t any streetlights and most of the houses seem deserted.. so it can be a bit scary to be walking.

3. The beaches in Arraial do Cabo are just okay

Beach of Arraial do CaboPraia Grande, maybe I have bad feelings because it is also the scene of the crime

For all the raving that I heard about how amazing the beaches are… I was disappointed.

The beaches in Buzios are a lot better. And so are the beaches in Rio de Janeiro

I’m a bit beach-spoiled after Thailand and maybe my expectations are a bit too high, but to enjoy nice beaches I should’ve stayed in Rio.

4. The dogs in Arraial do Cabo were really friendly

Dog in Arraial do Cabo Praia do Fornomy new beach buddy

I see a lot of stray dogs in Brazil. But in Arraial do Cabo, they all seemed really friendly, sweet, and well taken care of.

I’m pretty much a crazy dog lady and anytime I see a happy, outgoing dog I’m happy too! The dogs were probably the best part of the place… along with #5

5. There is a really great little trail hike in Arraial do Cabo

Hike Arraial do Cabo

From the main marina at the end of Praia dos Anjos, you can follow the signs towards Praia do Forno.

Marina and Town Praia dos Anjosthe marina and Praia dos Anjos from the hiking trail

Plan in advance for this hike and be sure to wear solid shoes (like trainers or hiking boots), as it is mostly mud and can be quite slippery after the rain. I wore sandals and regretted it!

The hike will lead you to “Oven Beach”, one of my favorite beaches in Arraial do Cabo – secluded and quiet, as it can only be reached by hiking or by boat.

Praia do Forno Arraial do CaboPraia do Forno / Oven Beach

Be sure to make some stops on the way to check out the fabulous views – one of my (few) favorite things about Arraial do Cabo was this hike!

Praia do Forno Arraial do Cabo Brazilanother view of Praia do Forno and some cactus on this foggy day


99% of the places I visit, I love. But the ones I don’t like… I REALLY don’t like.

While Arraial do Cabo came as the most highly recommended side trip from Rio de Janeiro (as per many friends, colleagues, and acquaintances).. I didn’t like it.

I found Arraial do Cabo to be dark, dirty, and a bit creepy, plus with no main city center. Maybe it was the time of year (May), so the cloudy weather and cold sea didn’t really help. Or maybe it was the frustrating and ridiculous scam that was run on me there.

Regardless, for a weekend trip out of Rio, I much prefer and recommend Buzios. Even though the food is equally greasy and with limited options in both places (at least Buzios has Subway), in my opinion Buzios had more beautiful beaches and a pretty little downtown area, and felt cleaner and safer.


Have you ever visited a place you didn’t really like or were disappointed with?


A short vacation in Thailand turned into a life abroad with a canceled ticket home. Nearly a decade later and after living in Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Puebla, and Puerto Vallarta, Steph is on to her next adventure and living back in beautiful, cosmopolitan Mexico City. She is living, traveling, and working (both as an expat therapist and an international health insurance representative) around the world to find the beautiful, inspirational, and interesting while sharing it with you!

Find me on: Web | Instagram | Facebook


  1. Rosario
    August 13, 2016 / 11:47 pm

    You have no idea of what yoy are talking about…well…if you’re lookig for Subway everyehere you go…it figures..Americans!

    • August 16, 2016 / 8:25 am

      Hi Rosario! I would love to be enlightened on what I “have no idea of”…

      Regarding Subway, I definitely do NOT prefer to eat Subway, anywhere in the world. But when my only options are heavy, greasy, unhealthy restaurant food OR a Subway chain, I’ll definitely choose Subway. In Arraial do Cabo, the only vegetarian option was french fries, cooked in the same oil as meat.

      I’ve lived out of the US for 4 years now, my eating preferences have nothing to do with being “American” and everything to do with a desire for a healthy life and my choice to be a vegetarian.

      Everyone has their own preferences, you’re welcome to yours as well! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  2. notbrazilianbyheart
    August 19, 2016 / 5:00 pm

    Rosario is a trendy left that hates american and european people like some other mindless does but can´t stay away from her i-phone…. but i understand you, yet i love some brazilian places, being robbed is nt a good experience.

    • August 20, 2016 / 8:45 am

      I love a lot of Brazilian places… Rio de Janeiro is spectacularly beautiful, as was Buzios… But I think it’s impossible to like everywhere you go, and it’s my responsibility as a blogger to share both the positive and the negative sides of the places I visit and live.

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