Set on Brazil's Atlantic coastline, Arraial do Cabo is known for long white-sand beaches lapped by clear turquoise waves. The area was once a danger point for sailors, and plenty of shipwrecks lie just off shore. Today, it's a hotspot for divers. The Arraial do Cabo Marine Extractive Reserve is home to lots of fish and protected species, including soft corals and sperm whales. Humpback whales pass by the coast during their annual migration.
Arraial do Cabo hostels are scattered through the historic centre, within walking distance of some of its best beaches. They tend to be friendly and welcoming, with an arty, bohemian flair, and often offer free breakfast. Shop around for extras such as surfboard rental. Many have a communal kitchen where you can prepare your own meals, and social spaces such as a TV or film room. A couple have private swimming pools, or you can opt for an Arraial do Cabo hostel with views of the beach. Room types range from shared dorms to spacious family suites, with air con or ceiling fans.
There's plenty to explore in Arraial do Cabo. The two major beaches are Praia Grande and Praia Dos Anjos and are hotspots for bars, restaurants and nightlife. Praia Grande is popular with swimmers, and is fringed by waterfront bars. You'll find some of the town's best restaurants in the area around Porto do Forno, Arraial do Cabo's traditional fishing port. A 1km hiking trail leads north to Praia do Forno, a tranquil stretch of white sand surrounded by nature.
Most travellers head to Arraial do Cabo to relax on its beautiful beaches. You can soak up the sun at Praia Grande, or take a boat ride from the town to more remote locations such as the Fenda de Nossa Senhora dramatic rock formation or the Gruta Azul, a cavern lapped by sparkling waves. Diving is popular here, and the area's clear blue water teems with marine life. A dramatic underwater landscape is dotted with the remains of sunken sailing ships. Climb nearby Cabo Frio Island for sweeping views over the ocean and the abandoned lighthouse.
Rio de Janeiro airport is located around 170km away from Arraial do Cabo. A number of public buses travel between the two places; you're best either to change at São Pedro da Aldeia or take bus 1001 direct from Rodoviária Novo Rio terminal, with a journey time of around three and a half hours.