Arraial do Cabo, 45km east of Saquarema, is surrounded by gleaming white sand dunes and offers breathtaking beaches without half the touristy fuss of neighboring Búzios. Arraial is home to a working fishing port, Porto do Forno, which lends it a welcoming working-class demeanor. Some of the best beaches – pristine swaths of gorgeous sand and bright-green waters – are within an easy 15-minute stroll of the downtown bus station, while others are just a short boat ride away. Arraial is a renowned diving destination, and it’s also a good place to observe humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), whose migration routes pass directly offshore.
Just above Praia dos Anjos beach in the town center, look for the plaque commemorating Amerigo Vespucci’s landing here in 1503. Vespucci left 24 men behind to start a settlement, making Arraial one of the first European toeholds in the Americas.