Brazil has 4,650 miles of beautiful white sand beaches. It is no wonder that 80% of the 201 million people in Brazil live along the coast! For years the beaches of well-known cities like Rio de Janeiro have attracted international travelers to popular spots like Ipanema and Copacabana. But beyond those areas lie thousands of miles of beaches in cities, towns and sexy little villages that have been, up until now, the secret haunts of Europe and South America’s, “beautiful people.” You may recall that actress Brigitte Bardot fell in love with the beauty of Buzios where she enjoyed freedom in her anonymity - until she was discovered by the paparazzi! Buzio is still lovely, filled with chic shops and trendy boutique resorts now catering to visitors from all over the world.
Most of these out-of-the-way destinations have had limited access; some only by road, others by private plane or yacht. Now more and more cruise lines are stopping in what is being called, “The Brazilian Riviera.” Costa Cruises devotes several ships exclusively to Brazil’s coast; though most of the passenegrs are Brazilians and Argentines you will see people from all over the world from Japan to Great Britian. Other companies like Pullmantur and Fred Olsen also have ships in Brazil; some starting in Bridgetown, Barbados others in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janiero. The cruise terminal in Rio has recentlyy been expanded to accommodate the growing domestic market.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises is also now including more ports in Brazil; this month the Mariner had inaugural calls in Vitoria, Buzios and Recife. In February, she will return for the last segment of the South America cruise with stops planned in Rio Grande, Santos (for São Paulo), Parati, Ilha Grande as well as Buzios, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador da Bahia, and Fortaleza before making her way up the Amazon to Manaus.
If you are a beach person you will find plenty of sea and sand to delight you in every port - you just need to know where to look. Remember that in Brazil, cities are enormous and sometimes require a taxi to get to away from the port to a beach. The most popular urban beaches are usually crowded; in Rio de Janiero there can literally be a million people on the various beaches at one time. If you are looking for quaint, the small crescent shaped bays that scallop the bay of Buzios will be your cup of tea. It is something out of a movie.
For those of you, who like me, are not beach goers many of these “new ports” offer a chance to experience cities that are perhaps more authentic than those that have been catering for years to tourists. I enjoyed Vitoria very much and was charmed by the examples of beautifully restored Portuguese colonial architecture not too far from the port. People were very friendly and still curious about the cruise ship in town.