Cabo Frio, with a population of 120 thousand, is the largest town at Região dos Lagos, the Northern Coast of the State of Rio de Janeiro. Even though many travelers with an interest in colonial history end up in Paraty, down South, Cabo Frio does have its share of famous historical events.
Before Portugal took a real interest in settling Brazil the French decided to found here the Antartic France. They made friends with Tamoio Indians, and started to trade in Brazil wood (the red dye produced from it was a latest fashion statement in Europe back then).
Eventually the Portuguese took action, and in 1575 the bloody Battle of Cabo Frio happened. Later came the Brits, the Dutch… The most visible legacy of these colonial days are the forts that still stand today and can be visited, colonial churches and even a convent. And of course the French, the Brits, the Dutch, and other smart world travelers, who have discovered this sun-drenched spot just a few hours away from Rio.
Going to Cabo Frio
The access to Cabo Frio used to be quite limited, and roads were in a pitiful condition. This situation has improved substantially. Today with the new Via Lagos you have to pay a toll, but the road is in excellent shape - for Brazilian standards, that is. It’s easy to reach the city with a rental car. Be careful not to be distracted by the view, especially when you cross the Rio-Niterói bridge.
If you are short of time you can take the one-day guided tour to Cabo Frio. It even includes a boat ride, and it will give you an idea of things you can do on your next visit. With a little more time in your hands you can take a bus at Rio’s Bus Station. Cabo Frio has its own airport, which serves the whole Região dos Lagos.
Beaches to Visit
Praia do Forte
with 7,5 kilometers, is the largest beach. This is where you find Downtown Cabo Frio. On the left corner there’s Forte São Mateus, one of the city’s postcards. The sand on Praia do Forte is so fine and white you will think you are walking on flour!
Praia do Peró
and its neighbor Praia das Conchas, stretch for another 7 kilometers. Praia do Peró is a favorite with surfers, and Praia das Conchas is fishermen and their rods get together.
Praia das Dunas
is also good for surfing. But the main attractions are the sand dunes. Some are large enough to grow vegetation on top, and the wind is always creating beautiful new shapes with the sand on the surface.
Lagoa de Araruama
is not exactly in Cabo Frio, it’s a short drive away. This mammoth lake with extremely salty water was very popular back in the 70’s and 80’s. The water was so salty it was hard to take a dip, even first-time swimmers would float! Pollution has scared away bathers lately, though. As there are plans to open a canal that will allow the water to renew and clean up, we leave a wishful note here, hoping this day happens soon.
Pictours of Cabo Frio
Marine salt ponds – sea water is left to dry, and the salt is harvested in crystals for processing