I never lived close enough to the beach to really appreciate the renewing and re-energizing powers of the ocean… until last year when I made the move from the US to Brazil and started frequenting Rio de Janeiro.
The best thing about Rio beaches is that all of them are public (you’ll have to cross the street from your hotel) and they’re packed with fit, bronze locals who share their beautiful city with us foreigners. So, whether you are planning a visit to this Cidade Maravilhosa (Wonderful City) or just want to take a virtual trip with us, keep reading for a break down of Rio’s beaches and what they’re known best for.
Copacabana beach was all the hype in the 80’s and it's still probably one of the most famous beaches in the world. These days, “Copa” is not exactly the hottest beach in the city but it still gets crowded on the weekends.
If you’re into beach sports and not so much a fan of going in the water, this might be the place for you. Always packed with people playing volleyball, beach tennis, fut-volley (a mix of soccer and volleyball)… you could easily ask any group if you can join their team, people tend to be really friendly.
In my opinion, water is not the cleanest but since the waves aren’t as big as they are in other beaches, it is also a great place to go stand up paddling!
The song “The girl from Ipanema” popularized this beach in the 60’s and it is still one of the best beaches in the city.
Aside from being a great place to hang out during the day, it has the BEST sunset in the city. Grab a caipirinha or a chopp (beer) and walk all the way to the end by the “Pedra do Arpoador” for an amazing show.
In the summer, you can hear the surfers clap when the sun starts hiding behind the water.
Although Leblon is the less popular neighbor to Ipanema, it is equally good in terms of location/quality. Typically a bit less packed than the previous two beaches, its great for relaxation and the water tends to be cleaner so this is your place if you wanna go in for a dip or if you like surfing.
Around the 2016 Olympics, there were two nice additions to the Leblon beach side: Riba and Azur. Two very similar beach restaurant/bars, which are a bit more on the expensive side but totally worth it if you’re looking to have a bite or a drink with an amazing view.
Barra da Tijuca
Barra is our beach of choice most of the time. It’s a bit farther away from all the touristy stuff but you can definitely take an Uber or the subway to get here and you won’t regret it.
The water is ALWAYS crystal clear and waves are smaller. On a hot summer day, you won’t want to get out of the water.
Since I know we all want a cute picture for Instagram when we travel, I’m gonna be real honest and say this beach is the least picturesque of all ones I’m listing. There is no mountain backdrop and very few palm trees but you should still give it a try if you have time.
When we have friends visiting that ask us to take them to a place only locals would know about, this is where we take them.
Prainha is a beach around 45 – 60 minutes away from Leblon located in the middle of the mountains. Its small and secluded and you’ll feel like you’re in a little place in heaven.
If you don’t have a car, I would try asking your hotel if they have transportation service. Otherwise, I’m sure there are taxis that would be willing to make the trip and maybe even wait for you since it will be hard to hail a cab in that area to go back.
Bring cash! You won't want to miss out on the food that is being offered in the beach.
My suggestions? Try the corn on the cob, queijo de coalho (a cheese stick that is grilled with oregano on a mini oven), biscoito globo, mate iced tea with lemonade, coconut water (you can ask them to open the coconut if you want to eat the meat after you drink it).
If you want to have an alcoholic beverage by the beach, stick to beer and avoid mixed drinks (you never really know if they use good quality hard liquor).
Also, if you like running, the street that runs beach side from Leblon to Ipanema is pedestrians only on Sundays from early morning until about 7:30 PM and it's an awesome place to run.
If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments!
Written by Lili Carlos | Co-Founder |