A Paraty Boat Party

The only reasonable follow up I could think of after a full day of playing in waterfalls was island hopping around Paraty.

Just a short walk through the beautiful colonial village and you arrive at Paraty’s main harbor where colorful boats lineup for daily expeditions.

Paraty Boat Tour

For less than $20 USD we boarded a big schooner for a day of sipping caipirinhas and exploring the bay islands nearby.

The day really was a great example of my life…  A champagne lifestyle on a lemonade wage! 

Here are a few shots from our Paraty boat Party…

Paraty from the Water

Leaving port we got a great view of all the whitewashed buildings and red-roofs of Paraty.

Paraty Boat Tours - Boats and Hoes

Boats and Hoes! Just kidding they were all very nice.

Paraty Boat Tours

Finishing up a couple of caipirinhas before jumping off the second level and into the crystal clear water below.

Paraty Boat Tours - Secluded Beach

We anchored at a few different beaches to swim and explore.

Paraty Beach Tours - Brazilian Beach Babe

Life is good.

Paraty Beach Tours - Island Hopping

PARATY BOAT TOURS INFORMATION

MORE PARATY PHOTOS

My Paradise in Paraty

When people give their definition of paradise it often includes white-sand beaches and warm, crystal clear water.

Like a gay guy looking at Megan Fox, I can appreciate the the beauty, but it’s not my idea of perfection.

My paradise is bright green foliage and cold dark water. It’s a day in the forest climbing up waterfalls and jumping into freezing cold natural pools.

You can blame it on growing up in Upstate New York where State Parks like Stony Brook and Letchworth were more enticing than the beaches of Lake Ontario.

Although they get overshadowed by all the beaches, Brazil offers an endless supply of these hidden gems and luckily for me, a few can be found right outside of Paraty.

With map studied and mountain bike rented, a friend and I set out to go find my paradise.

Paraty Waterfalls - Penha Waterfall

Our first stop was Cachoeira do Tobogã aka Cachoeira da Penha (Flume’s or Penha’s Waterfall) where we were greeted by a huge flat boulder in a series of small river waterfalls.

Paraty Waterfalls - Penha Waterfall

Like a natural slip-n-slide, we spent the morning running up and sliding down the smooth surface into the chilly river below. The sun broke through the trees just enough to warm the nearby rocks when we needed a break from the water.

Paraty Waterfalls - Penha Waterfall

From Penha’s Waterfall, we fueled up on a delicious lunch right across the park’s trailhead. Traditional Brazilian food like kibe and pasteis were on the menu.

Paraty - Brazilian Food - Pastel

Back on the bikes, we climbed our way up a bumpy dirt road through the forest and past the cachaca factories to Cachoeira da Pedra Branca (“White Stone’s Waterfall”).

Paraty - Paraty Waterfalls - Pedra Branca

We walked through the beautiful bamboo forest and emerged onto an incredible series of secluded waterfalls.

Paraty - Paraty Waterfalls - Pedra Branca

I spent the next hour jumping off waterfalls into pools of freezing cold water and laughing like I was 13 again.

Paraty - Paraty Waterfalls - Pedra Branca

This is my paradise.

Paraty - Paraty Waterfalls - Pedra Branca

Eventually the sun said it was time to wrap it up so we made our way back to Paraty.

Wet and happy, I road to town thinking about how I’m going to tell my future wife that this is where I want to honeymoon.

More information about the waterfalls of Paraty

More photos of Paraty

 

Picturing Paraty

The beautifully preserved colonial town of Paraty snuggles itself between lush, green mountains and a bright blue bay.

Whitewashed buildings and cobblestone streets serve as a real-life oil painting that you can walk through.

After a great trip to Buzios and Arraial do Cabo I was fixing for more small town adventures, so the following weekend I took off again.

This time I ventured in the opposite direction, and made the picturesque four and a half hour journey from Rio de Janeiro to Paraty.

These are the sites that greeted me upon my arrival…

Paraty-HorseandCarriage

Take a horse and carriage ride, although I don’t know how comfortable it would be with all the uneven cobblestone streets – At least it looks romantic.

Paraty Photos - Brazilian Food

Beef carpaccio, ceviche served with Pringles and Bohemia beer was the happy hour snack of choice.

Paraty Photos - Cobblestone Streets

Tables in the streets, flowers bursting over walls and mountains in the background.

Paraty Photos - Colonial Town TouchesThe beauty of Paraty is in all the little details.

Paraty Photos - Pousado do OuroGolden hour from Pousada do Ouro.

Paraty Photos - Street Lamp

Looking down at the cobblestone streets and lovely antique street lamps from above.

Paraty Photos - Restaurants in the StreetAfter such a relaxing first day in Paraty has me rested and ready for waterfalls tomorrow…

 

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

 

A Weekend Warrior’s Guide to Buzios

Buzios Brazil - Buzios Brasil

In desperate need of an escape from all the dudes in Rio after the World Cup, a few friends and I headed east to the peninsula paradise they call Buzios.

Just a three hour bus ride from Rio, it’s the perfect getaway for Cariocas seeking refuge from the hustle and bustle of the big city.

Thanks to a well-publicized visit by Brigitte Bardot back in the early ’60s, Buzios has gone from a simple fishing village to a well-traveled vacation destination for weekend warriors like us.

We painted our faces with SPF-30 and stormed the sand like Normandy in search of fun in the sun.

With only a few days in town, here’s a step-by-step account on how we made the most of our time in Buzios. Follow this and I guarantee a swift victory over monotony.

STEP 1: Travel in Style

Buzios Travel Guide - Ostrich Pillow

The easiest way is to take a bus from Rio de Janeiro’s bus terminal (Rodoviaria). They run everyday, almost hourly, and it costs around R$46 ($21USD). You can also rent a car, but with the gas and fees, it wasn’t worth it for us.

If you’re not going from Rio de Janeiro to Buzios, check out this all-inclusive “How to get to Buzios” resource for help.

STEP 2: Find a Home Base

Buzios Travel Guide - Where to Stay in Buzios

We stayed at the El Misti Hostel where we got a private, 4-person room with in-suite bathroom for R$30 ($14USD) each. It was clean, comfortable and a short walk from downtown Buzios.

There are tons of hostels, hotels and pousadas in Buzios, so shop around for what works best for you.

STEP 3: Pop the Top

Buzios Travel Guide - Rent a Buggy

Rent a dune buggy. It’ll cost you around R$100 ($45USD) for the day and that includes the respect in the streets when you’re cruising around with the top down.

Side Note: All men should know how to drive a stick-shift. If you don’t now is the time to learn. If you don’t do it for the ladies (look how happy they are), do it for Paul Walker.

STEP 4: Never Settle

Buzios Travel Guide - Praia Azeda

With almost two dozen beaches around the peninsula, you should swim around before you get married. For example, are you more of the quiet sunbathing type who likes a little intimacy? If so, Praia Azeda is for you (above).

Or, would you like more action and activities with your seaside experience? If so, Praia de Geriba is your answer (below).

Buzios Travel Guide - Praia de Geriba

With the buggy, we went to six different beaches over the course of 24 hours, all within a few miles of each other.

STEp 5: Identify the Bar 

Buzios Travel Guide - Beach Bar

At all times, you should know where the closest bar, cart or guy with a cooler on the beach is. It won’t always be obvious who’s slinging the adult drinks, but stay focused and they will appear. Sometimes in the form of old fishing boats!

Remember, you’re on vacation and it’s up to you to prove it.

Buzios Travel Guide - Bars

Step 6: Enjoy the Sunset

Buzios Travel Guide - Sunset in Manguinhos

We were told that the best place to watch the sunset was at the pier on Manguinhos beach. When we arrived however, the scenery wasn’t particularly attractive after everything we’d seen. The beach and surrounding area looked like it was used mostly by fisherman.

That all changed when mother nature turned the lights down. We found a spot at the end of the pier and enjoyed the show. The fishing boats added the perfect contrast in the water and the colors could fill up a crayon box. Well played Manguinhos, well played.

Buzios Travel Guide -Sunset in Buzios

Step 7: Stay up Late

Buzios Travel Guide - Porto da Barra

Start with Porto da Barra in Manguinhos right after the sunset (above) with a nice view and a sweet setup.

From there, head back to downtown Buzios’ main street,  Rua das Pedras, to cruise the streets and enjoy the many bars and restaurants.

Buzios Travel Guide - Central Buzios

If you’re up for it, I’m told that Pacha Nightclub is as legit as it gets when it comes to mega parties in Buzios.

However, I opted for a nice whiskey, two ice cubes, good friends and a solid waterfront view to finish the evening.

Buzios Travel Guide - Beach Bars

This is how I Buzios. Any questions?

Buzios Travel Guide - Buzios Map

Above is a map of the peninsula of Buzios. All the yellow highlighted areas are beaches.

*El Misti Hostel photo was taken from El Misti’s website, I didn’t actually climb a tree and take that.