A quick two-hour drive east along the coast from Rio , Cabo Frio (“Cabo” to the locals) is a favorite summer and weekend retreat for middle-class Cariocas and other sunseeking getaway artists. They are lured by its sugary white dunes , limpid green waters, and deliciously cool breezes (which is where the frio comes in), as well as a party hearty atmosphere.
Founded in 1615 by the Portuguese, it was from Cabo that the new colony’s precious brazilwood (which gave the country its name) set sail for Europe. Two centuries later, having depleted supplies of this precious wood, the region turned to fishing. More recently, it has invested in the manufacture of salt and in tourism.
In terms of the latter, Cabo has met with success—perhaps too much for some tastes. Despite a relaxed vibe and a reputation as “Brazil’s cleanest city,” the town itself is quite overdeveloped and unattractive. In the summer, the population multiplies tenfold, mostly with families and their teenage kids.
When not chilling in the region’s sand dunes or nibbling on seafood in the many barracas and bars, vacationers are strutting (and purchasing) their stuff on the “Rua dos Biquinis,” where over 100 boutiques sell beach togs of every brand, style, and price range imaginable under the sun.
There are numerous direct daily buses from Rio de Janeiro  to Cabo Frio operated by Viação 1000 (tel. 0300/313-1001, www.autoviacao1001.com.br ). The Terminal Rodoviária de Cabo Frio (tel. 22/2643-1521) is a 3-km (2-mile) walk from the center.
If you’re driving from Rio, take the BR-101, followed by the RJ-124 and RJ-140. It’s a quick two-hour drive.