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
1. The weather in Arraial do Cabo in May is not great
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
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
Praia 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.
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
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
From the main marina at the end of Praia dos Anjos, you can follow the signs towards Praia do Forno.
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.
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!
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.