Rio’s Best Beaches
A Guest Post Written by Yvonne Ivanescu of Now in Rio. Now in Rio is a travel and culture website that provides comprehensive information about Rio de Janeiro for both tourists and anyone interested in travel and/or Brazil. It seeks to change perspectives, shatter stereotypes and introduce you to the real Rio de Janeiro – its vibrant communities, delicious local cuisine, thriving underground culture and unbelievable scenery. To follow their adventures, visit their website, Facebook and/or their Visit Brazil Facebook group.
When you think about Rio de Janeiro, you probably think of beautifully warm weather, long stretches of sand and sparkling water coupled with samba music and smiling faces. But there is more to Rio than just Ipanema and Copacabana, in fact Rio is the largest coastline city in all of Rio de Janeiro. But before we share some of the more secluded beaches of Rio, let’s look at the most famous beach spots:
Before we start, Rio’s beaches are made up of postos which are lifeguard stations. They often have bathrooms and showers located inside and they are often use as markers to show people where to go and what activities are available.
At the Copa, Copacabana… Copacabana is hands down on of the most famous beaches in Rio de Janeiro, but it is also the one with the dirtiest water. Copacabana is located right beside Guanabara bay, a bay that has been plagued with sewage issues, oil spills and pollution. Instead of take a dip, we recommend that you take a walk down the famous cobblestone Copacabana sidewalk, watch some futevolei and maybe even purchase a souvenir or two.
Let’s move past Leblon, known as one of the richest and most glamorous neighbourhoods in Rio de Janeiro, and settle at Vidigal beach located right in front of the Sheraton Hotel. To get to the beach you need to walk past Posto 12 and follow the trail along the coastline for around 1.5 kilometers until you reach the steep stairs that lead you to the beach. This small stretch of sand, which offers much needed shade from the hot Rio sun, was the former playground for the resident of the Vidigal favela until Sheraton was built in the 70s. It is now shared between Vidigal residents, Sheraton guests and whoever else who wants to venture outside the Zona Sul bubble. If you aren’t a guest of the Sheraton, the entrance is a little tricky to find – the stairs down to the beach are located here between the Sheraton and the entrance to Vidigal favela.
Arpoador & Ipanema
Arpoador is located at Posto 7, just at the beginning of Ipanema beach. One of the its key features is the Arpoador rock, one of the best spots in the whole city to watch the sun set behind the Two Brother mountain (Dois Irmaos). Arpoador is also known as the surfer’s beach and is where the majority of the city’s surf schools are located. However, as the water is littered with avid surfers looking to catch a wave, it isn’t the best place to take a dip. Instead, take a stroll down to Posto 8 where families play in the pools formed at low tide. Or take a strong between Post 8 and Posto 9, the LGBTQ beach-area, where rainbow flags fly freely and music can always be heard. No matter what Posto you choose in Ipanema, make sure to choose a busy barraca, order a cool drink and hire a deckchair and parasol to enjoy a perfect day at the beach.
Recreio dos Bandeirantes
32 km away from Zona Sul, is Recreio. It may be a little bit out of the way, but Recreio has some of the best beaches of Rio de Janeiro. Let’s start with Praia de Macumba, located between Pedra do Pontal and Canal de Sernambetiba. Macumba beach is a paradise for surfers and those looking for less crowded beaches. Then there is Praia Secreto, the secret beach, which in truth is not so secret anymore since its discovery two years ago. This natural pool surrounded by rocks only appears in low tide and its entrance is a little tough to find, we recommend asking a recreio local to point you in the right direction. Last is Prainha Beach, a stunning and incredibly quiet crescent-moon shaped beach surrounded by rainforest-covered mountains and famous for epic waves. It’s a little hard to get to Prainha via public transportation, so opt for hiring a private driver for the day. Weekends can get incredibly busy, so we would also recommend visiting during a weekday.
Barra de Tijuca
If you hop onto the metro line 1 to Jardim Oceanico, you’ll end up in the neighbourhood of Barra, which is also home to the longest beach in Rio de Janeiro. As you exit the metro, take an UBER/Taxi or walk to Praia do Pepê, a scenic long stretch of sandy beach and considered one of the trendiest beaches of Rio de Janeiro. The ocean breezes and the choppy water make this a perfect place to surf and kitesurf. The Barra beaches are beautiful, but be wary as the current can be quite strong; always look out for red flags, as they denote no swimming areas. If your stomach start growling then head to Avenida Olegario Maciel, a street known for its multiple bars, clubs and restaurants. No shoes, no shirt? It doesn’t matter, it’s all beachy.