5 Best Beaches in Rio de Janeiro: Beyond Copacabana

5 Best Beaches in Rio de Janeiro: Beyond Copacabana

September 19, 2017
By Leticia Calvillo

When I arrived in Rio, I was surprised to find out that Copacabana is not the top choice for locals. However, after spending a couple months here, I understand why. While Copacabana is worth visiting at least once during your stay, it can get hectic and overwhelming. Depending on what experience you seek, you may want to visit some of the best beaches in Rio de Janeiro that locals rave about… Here are a few of them!

São Conrado beach in Rio de Janeiro

Photo: Loucos por Praia

1. São Conrado Beach

Near Pedra de Gavea and Morro Dois Irmãos, this 1km long beach is worth visiting after completing the trail through Dois Irmãos. This beach is known for its beauty and its socio-economic contrast with the surrounding neighborhood, as it is both one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Rio and the home of Favela da Rocinha. While the water is not usually safe to swim in because of pollution, the view is worth the visit. Cycle along the bike path, and take in the beauty.

Location: São Conrado neighborhood

Distance from Copacabana Beach: About 20-minute car ride and 50-minute bus ride.

Average transportation cost:

Bus (104 line): R$3,80 ($1.20 USD)

Uber: R$20-30 ($6.33- 9.49 USD)

SurfBus (special bus that stops at several beaches, more information: http://www.surfbus.com.br/: R$10 ($3.16 USD)

When to go: Any time during your stay

Activities:  Hang gliding, climb Pedra da Gávea or the smaller Pedra Bonita, and/or cycle

2. Joatinga

If you are seeking a more relaxing experience and greater security, Joatinga Beach is the way to go. Located inside of a condominium, Joatinga Beach is open to the public. However, you must hike a relatively easy trail to get there. Since it is a smaller beach with only 300m of coastline, is hidden, and overall is more difficult to find than other beaches. There are fewer vendors and kiosks. This is surely a refreshing break from the busier beaches!

In addition, there is a small pool that forms at the right side of the beach. Although this beach is not well known by tourists, it is frequented by local surfers and youthful crowds. To avoid the crowds, it is best to get there early or to go on weekdays. It is also important to check the tide before going, as the coast will disappear during high tide.

Location: Rua Lasar Segall, S/N – Joá, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 22611-100

Distance from Copacabana Beach:  25 minute drive and 1 hr bus ride.

Average transportation cost:  

Bus (557): R$3,80 ($1.20 USD)

Uber: about R$25-35 ($7.91-11.08 USD)

When to go: Early mornings or weekdays when the tide is not high and water is safe to swim in.

Activities: Surf, swim, walk along a trail, or simply relax.

Sunset at the Joatinga beach in Rio de Janeiro

Photo: Rio Carnaval

3. Barra de Tijuca Beach

With almost 18 km of coastline, Barra de Tijuca beach holds the title of the longest beach in Rio de Janeiro. The beach is known for its light-colored sand, clear water, and hosting many sports championships. If you are looking for a more upbeat beach with many sports to take advantage of, this is the beach to go to.

You can see people practicing border fishing, kitesurfing, windsurfing, and fly surfing. On the sand, there is volleyball, soccer, and a combination of both: futevolei. For the sports on the sand, it is easy to join in on the fun! Simply ask! The area is also known for its great seafood restaurants, bars, and many kiosks.

Location: Barra da Tijuca Beach, Av. Lúcio Costa, 2200 – Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 22630-010

Distance from Copacabana Beach:  About 31-minute car ride or 42-minute bus ride. 

Average transportation cost:

Bus (will have to walk for about 20 min as well) (L1 or L4): R$3,80 ($1.20 USD)

Uber: about R$35-45 ($11.05-14.25 USD)

SurfBus: R$10 ($3.16 USD)

When to go: Anytime during your stay.

Activities: Try different sports and/or walk down the Marapendi Reserve.

Boat in the clear waters of Barra da Tijuca beach

4. Prainha

Home to many national and international surf championships, Prainha is known as a favorite among surfers. It received its name due to its small size, translating literally to “small beach”.

Locals know it for its great view as it is surrounded by mountains covered with green Atlantic forest, crystalline water, and light colored sand. It is best to get there early because the sun gets covered in the mountains by mid-day. The great thing about Prainha is that, in contrast to other beaches, this beach has few buildings, with a couple restaurants as the exception.

Location: Av. Estado da Guanabara, S/N – Recreio dos Bandeirantes, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 22790-852

Distance from Copacabana Beach: 56-minute car ride or 1hr and 30min bus ride.

Average transportation cost:

Uber:R$65-75 ($20.57-23.74USD)

SurfBus:R$10 ($3.16 USD)

When to go: Morning weekdays.

Activities: Surf and/or swim.

Prainha beach

5. Praia do Secreto

Only recently added to Google Maps, Praia do Secreto is one of the locals´ favorite beaches. While its name literally translates to Beach of the Secret, it is not really a beach but more of a pool of water created by the surrounding rocks. Although no waves may sound appealing for parents with young children, it is not the best beach for children.

Instead, this beach is just right for someone looking for a more venturesome activity, since this is because this beach is only accessible through a trail that could be dangerous. It’s best to go barefoot through this trail, as it can get very slippery. In addition, this beach spanning 10m by 5m is not a beach to relax for long periods of time; instead, it is a great treat after the trail. Check the tide before you venture there!

Location: 2000, Av. Estado da Guanabara, 1102 – Recreio dos Bandeirantes, Rio de Janeiro – RJ

Distance from Copacabana Beach: 55-minute drive.

Average transportation cost: R$65-75 ($20.57-23.74)

When to go: Weekdays when the tide is not high.

Activities: Trails

Looking for more fun activities to do in Rio? How about discovering Brazilian culture through their delicious food or visiting the city’s top sights with the help of a local guide? Check out our tours in Rio de Janeiro!

Categories: Brazil, Uncategorized