Búzios: The St. Tropez, and the Ibiza, of Brazil

The Best Beaches in Rio

Lying 100 miles east of the city of Rio de Janeiro, the resort town of Búzios is a hangout for the rich and famous – and has been called the St. Tropez of Brazil. It also masquerades as the Ibiza of Brazil.

Every summer, the small peninsula of Armação dos Búzios, to give it its full name, throngs with beach and party goers. Overhanging the Atlantic Ocean on the shores of one of the town’s prettiest coves is a global icon of the clubbing scene; Pacha.

Pacha, of course, has clubs the world over. Its Ibiza version is arguably its biggest and most famous. But while retaining Ibiza’s legendary appetite for a party, none has the stunning setting quite to match Pacha Búzios.

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Búzios hasn’t always been this way.

The town was once the realm of pirates and slave traders, much like many other areas of Brazil.

During the 17th century, the town – then occupied by Tupinanbás Indians – was invaded by Europeans, who proceeded to battle each other until the Portuguese expelled the French due to their bloody disputes with the Tupinanbás.

French pirates and smugglers were interested in smuggling wood and selling African slaves. But it was the gold trade that would define Búzios.

The gold trade was flourishing in the 18th century in the neighbouring state of Minas Gerais. Its exportation to Europe from Rio de Janeiro attracted many ships – and money – to Guanabara Bay.

Whale hunting was common practice in the area at that time. The name Armação dos Búzios comes from the process of separating whale meat from the bones.

After the abolition of slavery in Brazil in 1850, Búzios slipped into obscurity, until, lured by this tranquil getaway four hours from Rio, high society started to descend upon the town.

Then, in 1964, infamy. French actress Brigitte Bardot visited Búzios with her Brazilian boyfriend, and since then Búzios has become the weekend getaway for cariocas.

Bardot fell in love with the charm and simplicity of the place. Today – not quite as serene as Bardot would remember – she has a street, a pousada (small hotel) and a statue in honour of Búzios’ most famous visitor.

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People come to Búzios – population 25,000 – today for its many pristine beaches, shopping and nightlife. The town has 23 beaches, which draw many surfers and water sports enthusiasts.

After a day lounging on the beach, many holidaymakers in Búzios find the restaurants and the nightclubs – in particular, Pacha – to be just the ticket.

Written by Graham Vincent

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