Armacao dos Buzios, Brazil

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The spindly Brazilian peninsula of Armação dos Búzios, or just Búzios, is loaded with hills and fine bays as well as coves where long ago pirates were able to stash their booty and themselves. In the state of Rio de Janeiro, and about a two-hour drive from the city of Rio, the popular resort area is made up of a handful of hamlets spread over some 30 square miles and encompassing nearly two dozen beaches. Dotted with cacti and dry tropical woods, the peninsula was a slaving station before its economic roles morphed into that of fishing villages and a whaling base (an armação was a fish drying rack, while búzios means "whelks" in Portuguese).

The main town has a cool Mediterranean-on-the-Atlantic vibe that began when Brigitte Bardot famously showed up in the mid-'60s and launched its fame—the port promenade is named for the actress and a bronze statue honors her. The half-mile-long pedestrian-only Rua das Pedras, or Stone Street, is a tropical Fifth Avenue or Champs-Élysées, packed with shopping, dining and nightlife, and it's the place to see and be seen by the whole world. 

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