Rio de Janeiro’s (Nearly) Private Beaches

July 14, 2017

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Praia de Joatinga. Image by Pedro Widmar.

When it comes to beaches in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro, most people make a beeline for one of the big two: Ipanema and Copacabana. When they get there, however, they often find things are seriously overcrowded. Luckily, Rio has more than 40 other beaches to choose from, many* of which will be far quieter.

Praia de Grumari. Image by Pedro Widmar.

If you’re looking to surf, you’ll want to find your way to Prainha – you can either hail a cab or catch the Surfbus, which runs daily. Prainha is particularly good for surfing due to its narrow stretch of sand bordered on both side by large, rocky outcrops that produce killer waves.

Only a few hundred meters past Prainha is Praia de Grumari. This 2.5km (1.5 mile) stretch of pristine sand and crystal-clear water is located in a nature reserve, and is just the ticket if you like to have the beach all to yourself.

Another quiet option is Urca’s Praia Vermelha, which is a 10-minute taxi ride from hopping Copacabana beach. The small area doesn’t get as packed as other central beaches and has extra options like sea kayaking or a tranquil walk around the base of Sugarloaf Mountain.

Praia de Joatinga is a gorgeous beach, tucked away in the neighborhood of Joá. Be sure to check the tides before you go, though, as the shore disappears completely at high tide.

Praia do Perigoso. Image by Pedro Weidmar.

Praia do Perigoso is for the truly intrepid. In fact, it’d behoove you to consider hiring a guide, as this faraway area is reached after a one-hour coastal trek from Barra de Guaratiba on the far western outskirts of the city. Though it’s not the easiest to get to, the picturesque white sand and turquoise water are quite the payoff.

Located in the middle of Guanabara Bay, sleepy little Ilha de Paquetá is barely over 2km (around 1 mile) long, and reached via a scenic one-hour ferry ride from Praça XV de Novembro in Centro. The island has several beaches as well as a ban on all motor vehicles, so your transport options are to walk, rent a bicycle, hire a bike taxi or, charmingly, a horse-drawn carriage, all of which can be arranged once you’re on the island.

*Note that the distant spots are best reached by car – hired cars are cheap, but you can also strike a deal with a local tour guide to take care of the transportation. Also, keep aware of your surroundings; we recommend traveling in a group and not lingering too long after sunset.

About The HUNT Rio de Janeiro Writer: In 2009, Tom Le Mesurier left London looking for adventure. Today, Tom lives in Santa Teresa and takes guests on culinary walking tours while sharing restaurant recommendations on his website, When it comes to finding new bars and eateries, Tom likes to think of himself as a dedicated researcher, but really, he’s just greedy.

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