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Articles Blog

Buzios, Brazil

Karyn Planett

“Three B’s”

Or is it four? Maybe more.

Well, right off the top of my head I can count beaches, bikinis, and Brigitte Bardot. So, that’s probably four. Oh, yes, there are also boutiques and boat charters. Bistros, yes there are tony little bistros dotted about because it seems all manner of cuisines are offered here from Italian to Thai, Fusion to French. And the nightlife definitely swirls around the “BP” beautiful people in the ear-splitting eye-popping bar scene. You need only follow the tanned and toned crowd in the micro-minis and teetering heals. 

There’s also mouthwatering beef for those not interested in the morning’s catch from the bountiful seas. For those who would indeed like some fried fish and a chilled local beer there are beach barracas, which are seaside restaurants that are, oh how do we say it, basic. Yes, that’s an apt description of these lean-tos of recycled boards and palm thatch held together with a prayer. Locals do have their favorites that they frequent on weekends or throughout the holidays, moving their collection of flimsy plastic chairs like a human sundial trying to catch every ray of sunshine, and only taking leave occasionally to dash across the hot sand for a refreshing dip in the Atlantic. You have the rare opportunity of joining in on this ritual perhaps making some lifelong friends among Rio’s Cariocas who’ve escaped the big city to Buzios in droves.

One last “B” … beach vendors who offer trinkets and souvenirs, fruit and cold drinks from their colorful little pushcarts. Among the offerings – corn on the cob, watermelon juice, even grilled skewers of cheese. They are truly part of the Buzios scene, just like the rest of the cast of characters.

And Speaking Of Characters 

You might wonder how Brigitte Bardot found her way to this little speck of glorious sand. Well, let’s back up a bit to set the stage for her grand entrance. This was simply a pretty sleepy little place about 90 miles north of Rio de Janeiro. Yes, the Portuguese discovered it in the early days of the 16th century but not much really happened here save for the pirates and slave traders who added their drama and genes to the pool of local people. Whalers were here, as well, during the 18th century and called this area Armacao das Baleias, which is Portuguese for “the Whale’s Place”. These massive animals flocked here in July and October for mating. Sadly, today, the number of whales has declined. 

For the record, the proper name for this little bit of Brazilian heaven is Armacao de Buzios. And, technically there are three communities included in this area among them Osso (which means bones – another “B” -- in Portuguese), Manguinhos and Armacao. All this is wrapped in the loving embrace of some 27 beaches on a skinny little only-100-feet-wide-in-places peninsula that looks like a blotch of paint dropped from the skies. Twenty-seven beaches, can you imagine? And if that’s not enough for the sun worshippers and eco-seekers, they’re surrounded by a backdrop of the bluest water you ever hope to see and some impressive cliffs and rocky outcroppings.  

Well everything went along swimmingly until 1964 when the aforementioned French bombshell and her hunky Brazilian boyfriend decided to escape the prying eyes of paparazzi shadowing their every move in Rio. So, they got the heck out of Rio and fled to this little fishing enclave. But, as you know, nothing ever goes as planned and they were ultimately discovered. In time, their romance cooled. The “sex kitten”, as she was called, found other distractions so what’s left behind in Buzios today is her bronze statue on Orla Bardot and the predictable comparison to her other love, St.-Tropez.

Developers followed in Bardot’s tracks especially since the world’s attention was now focusing on this steamy mini-hideaway. In the 1980s scores of hotels and villas, apartments and restaurants sprang to life luring in vacationers from Rio and from as far away as Argentina. In season the population swells by three to four times the year-round, permanent count.   

A Memento Of Buzios 

Stone Street is a must. In Portuguese, it’s called Rua das Pedras and is about 1200 feet long. Lining it from beginning to end, both sides, are boutiques of beachwear and designer duds, some fine art galleries and handicraft stores, plus a variety of eateries and ice-cream takeaways. You’ll even discover an antique store or two among the contemporary temptations.

Well, soon it’ll be time to return to your stateroom with a notch on your been-there, done-that belt and maybe even a bit of sun to prove it.