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What's Brazil's Praia do Cassino beach really like & is it worth a stop when traveling from Chui to Rio de Janeiro by bus?

florianopolis beaches in Brazil are far prettier than praia do casino
Santa Catarina's beaches are far prettier than Praia do Cassino  

The port city of Rio Grande in Brazil boasts the world’s longest beach, Praia do Cassino—a massive 212kms long—it’s hard to imagine until you see it, people literally drive their cars and motorbikes right onto the beach and park up next to the sea and fellow bathers, it’s kind of bizarre. I only happened upon Praia do Cassino beach by accident really. At the start of my four months in South America I sometimes made errors due to not knowing too much Spanish. One of these errors happened when I was traveling into Brazil from Uruguay and trying to get across the border. The whole crossing can be a little bit confusing, first you have to stop in Chuy, Uruguay, to get your exit stamp, then cross through the sketchy border town to get your entry stamp for Brazil in Chui, essentially the same town with two different spellings—half is Brazilian, half Uruguayan. At the bus station in Chui, you can buy tickets for buses heading up the coast but I mistakenly arrived too late and with a few miscommunications ended up taking a bus to a place called Pelotas, then onto Rio Grande the next day, rather than Florianópolis as planned.

colourful buildings in rio grande Brazil, close to praia do cassino beach
Colourful buildings in Rio Grande, the closest city to Praia do Cassino beach

But sometimes making mistakes traveling can lead you to discover places you may not have ever known existed, and this was the case with the world's longest beach, Praia do Cassino. Once there, everyone turns up their stereo and has a picnic, and as is often the case in Brazil and other coastal South American countries, there’s always a selection of vendors walking up and down the beach, selling a selection of South American food and drink—everything from dulce de leche doughnuts to cocktails in hollowed out pineapples. It was on this very beach that I had my first taste of a dulce de leche filled churro, but to be honest, that's maybe the only highlight from my time on the world's longest beach, as you can see below, Praia do Cassino isn't really the place for blissful days in paradise or beautifully rugged beaches like the kind you'll find further up the coast, for those you’ll need to head north to Ilha Grande, near Rio de Janeiro.

praia do cassino beach in Brazil with cars and motorbikes driving on it
Praia do Cassino beach—the longest beach in the entire world

I did make the most of my time in Rio Grande though and once back in the city I enjoyed dinner at one of the many ‘pay per kilo’ buffets—these are real Brazilian institutions where you can try a large selection of meat, rice dishes and salad for a pretty good price. You simply put whatever you want to eat on your plate, take it to the counter to be weighed and pay. After a couple of days walking and exploring the city, I took a local bus for 12 hours north to Florianópolis, then another onto Santa Catarina, an island made up of pretty beaches surrounded by rolling hills and rainforests. Santa Catarina, with over 60 beaches, is the place to spend lazy days sunbathing and playing in the waves. Many beaches have great little cafes or restaurants on the sea edge serving fresh fish dishes with rice and black beans and the most amazing caipirinhas. 

From Florianópolis, it’s a long old slog up to Rio de Janeiro by bus—taking a massive 22 hours, but it's worth the trip for fun times in Rio, plus it’s way kinder on the planet.

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