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Hitting the Beaches

The charm of Búzios lies largely in its beaches, the 20 stretches of sand large and small within a few kilometers of the old town. Thanks to the irregular topography of this rugged little peninsula, each beach is set off from the other and has developed its own beach personality. Farthest from the old town is Manguinhos beach. Sheltered from the heavy surf, this gentle beach is where many learn to sail and windsurf. A short hop over the neck of the peninsula lies Geribá beach, a wonderful long stretch of sand facing out toward the open ocean. This is the beach for surfing, boogie boarding, and windsurfing. Closer to town is Ferradura or Horseshoe beach. Nestled between rocky headlands in a beautiful horseshoe bay, this beach offers calm, crystal-clear waters, making it the perfect place for a long, lazy afternoon's snorkel. Tiny and beautiful, Olho de Boi or Bull's Eye beach is tucked away on its own at the far end of a small ecological reserve. It can only be reached by a 20-minute walk from surfers' favorite Brava beach. Thanks to this isolation, Bull's Eye beach has been adopted by Búzios' clothing-optional crowd. Back on the calm inland side of the peninsula, João Fernandes and the pocket-size João Fernandinho beaches are busy, happening places lined with beachside cafes and full of people intent on getting and showing off their tans.

Outdoor Activities & Watersports

Most everything in the way of watersports equipment can be rented in Búzios, generally right on the beach.

On Ferradura beach, Happy Surf (tel. 022/2623-3389) rents sailboards, lasers, Hobie Cats, and kayaks. Happy Surf also gives courses. A 6-hour beginner's sailboard course costs R$150. More advanced students can choose from 1- and 2-hour courses costing from R$35 to R$60. Lasers rent for R$35 per half-hour, R$45 with instructor. Hobie Cats rent for R$25 per half-hour, R$40 with instructor. Kayaks rent for R$5 per half-hour.

The following equipment is available at João Fernandes Beach: kayaks, R$5 for 30 minutes; mask and snorkel, R$12 per hour; and sailboard, R$30 per hour.

On Manguinhos beach, Búzios Vela Club, Rua Maurício Dutra 303 (tel. 022/2623-0508), rents windsurf equipment. A full-day rental ranges from R$150 to R$210. Manguinhos is also a popular kite-surfing location. Intensive weekend courses are available for R$600, including gear and 6 hours of instruction. To book a lesson call Búzios Kite Surfing School (tel. 022/2633-0396; www.kitenews.com.br).

Biking -- Hard-core mountain bikers would likely find it a little tame, but Búzios is an excellent place for gentle, recreational off-road cycling. There are lots of trails accessible only to pedestrians and cyclists. Buzios Dacar, Manoel José Carvalho 248 (tel. 022/2633-0419), rents bikes for R$45 per day.

Boating -- Schooner trips are a great way to spend a day in Búzios. A small fleet of converted fishing schooners makes a circuit of about eight of Búzios' beaches plus three offshore islands. On board you trundle along in the sunshine eating complimentary fresh fruit and drinking free caipirinhas (or mineral water). At any of the beaches you're free to get off, hang out and swim for a bit, and then hop back on the next schooner (from your company) that comes along. There are enough boats that you usually don't have to wait long. One company is Malizia Tour (tel. 022/2623-1226), but there's really no need to seek them out. Just walk along Rua das Pedras anywhere near the pier, and you're guaranteed to be approached by a schooner tout. The exact price depends on how the time of year and how hard you negotiate, but competition between various schooner operators keeps things fairly competitive. Expect to pay from R$25 to R$45 for a half-day's cruise.

Diving -- The islands just off Búzios are -- along with Angra dos Reis and Arraial do Cabo -- some of the best diving spots within a 1-day drive of Rio. Diving takes place at a number of islands about 45 minutes off the coast. Water temperature is normally around 22°C (72°F). Visibility ranges from 10 to 15m (30-50 ft.). Coral formations are fairly basic -- mostly soft coral -- but there are always lots of parrotfish, and there are often sea turtles (green and hawksbill) and stingrays of considerable size.

Casa Mar, Rua das Pedras 242 (tel. 022/9817-6234; www.casamar.com.br), offers a full range of services including cylinder refill and courses all the way from basic to nitrox. For a certified diver, a two-dive excursion costs R$110 or R$150 if you need to rent all the equipment such as a regulator, BCD (buoyancy control device), wet suit, and mask/fins/snorkel. For those wanting to get their diving license, a 5-day PADI open-water course costs R$850. If you just want to try diving, there are also introduction dives -- you practice in the pool first and then the dive instructor takes you out for a controlled one-on-one dive in the open ocean -- for R$180. Nondivers who come on the boat pay R$80.

For Kids -- If your kids get bored with the beach you may want to bring them to Radical Parque, Estrada da Usina 1 (right next to the bus station; tel. 022/2623-2904; www.parqueradical.com.br; daily 9am-11pm). This oversize playground offers rappel, climbing walls, giant trampolines, paintball, and go-karts. Prices are per activity and range from R$10 for climbing or rappel to R$30 for half an hour of paintball or R$35 for 15 minutes of karting.

Golf -- The Búzios Golf Club & Resort (tel. 022/2629-1240; www.buziosgolf.com.br) is located just in from Manguinhos beach. Greens fees for this 18-hole course are R$165 per day for unlimited golf. Cart rental is R$100 for 18 holes and R$50 for 9 holes.

Surfing -- Geribá and Tocuns beaches are the best for surfing. They're located on the way in to Búzios, about 5km (3 miles) from downtown. Closer to town, Brava beach also often has good waves. Surfboard rentals and/or lessons are available at Escolinha de Surfe do Rato (tel. 022/9262-4756) on Geribá beach.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.