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Authored by Yvonne Ivanescu

When you think about Rio de Janeiro, what instantly comes to mind? Did you say beaches?

Your plans will likely include the most famous beaches in Rio, though with a reputation for some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, the city is so much more than Copacabana and Ipanema!

The following are secret beaches in Rio you may not have heard about – these may not be listed in guide books as landmarks or Rio de Janeiro points of interest, but each trip will prove incredibly worthwhile – they’re all hidden gems!

Secret Rio Beaches That You’ve Probably Never Heard About

Barra da Tijuca Beach

Barra da Tijuca is Rio’s longest beach, stretching a gigantic 11 miles (18 km) from the edge of Barra da Tijuca to the opposite edge of Recreio.

The surf is high and the tides are strong, making it the perfect area for extreme water sports. Long and short board surfing, body boarding, kite surfing and windsurfing are quite popular with championships in these sports being held here on a annual basis.

At the north end of Barra (metro station Jardim Oceânico) is Praia do Pepê, considered to be one of the trendiest beaches of Rio de Janeiro. The ocean breezes and the choppy water make this a perfect place to surf and kite surf.

In addition there is a rescue and support crew in the area which makes this beach one of the safest as well. And if your hungry, then make sure to head over to Avenida Olegario Maciel, a lively street filled with restaurants and bars the tickle anyone’s tastebuds.

It also has an abundance of beach kiosks if your craving a coconut water or a cold beer, or looking for Rio beach chairs.

Barra da Tijuca is Rio’s longest beach

Vidigal Beach

Located right in front to the Sheraton Hotel, Vidigal beach is one of the few beaches in Zona Sul that offers tourists shade from the hot Rio sun.

The small stretch of sand was the playground of Vidigal favela residents until the Sheraton was built in the 1970s. Nowadays residents peacefully share the beach with Sheraton guests. Rio de janeiro all inclusive resorts. 

If you aren’t a guest of the Sheraton, but staying at a different Rio hotel, 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.

Prainha

If you’re tired of the hustle and bustle of Ipanema or Copacabana, then make your way farther west along the coast to Prainha Beach, a stunning and incredibly quiet crescent-moon shaped beach surrounded by rainforest-covered mountains.

If you are feeling a little bit peckish, Prainha has a number of kiosks sprawled out on the beach or you can head to Bar e Restaurant Mirante da Prainha for some delicious and fresh seafood accompanied by a stunning view.

It’s a little hard to get to Prainha via public transportation, we recommend that tourists schedule a taxi in advance with a fixed rate that would drop you off and pick you up at specifically marked times. Weekends can get incredibly busy, so we would also recommend visiting during a weekday.

If you are tired of the hustle and bustle of Ipanema or Copacabana, then make your way farther west along the coast to Prainha Beach

Praia Vermelha

Praia Vermelha may be one of Rio de Janeiro’s smallest beaches, but it does have a lot to offer.  Literally translated to English, it means red beach and derives its name from the reddish yellow sand found here.

Praia Vermelha lies in a cove between Morro da Urca and Morro da Babilonia. In fact, it’s right beside the cable car that you would take if you’re going to SugarLoaf Mountain.

The beach is best known for its calm waters and is a great location if your aching for a leisurely swim without having to fight a strong current.

Pro tip: After spending a day lounging around the beach, head over to Bar e Restaurant Urca – a classic restaurant in an iconic location overlooking the bay, serving fish and crab cakes with beer.

Joatinga Beach

The waves and the current are strong, so you will see more surfers than swimmers here. But don’t worry, the real magic of this beach is the location.

Joatinga is located just 10-12 kilometres from Leblon in the neighbourhood of Joá. The beach is mostly frequented by locals and many arrive with their own coolers filled to the brim with food and beer as options are quite limited at the beach.

Get there early due to the position of the beach – the early hours of the day get the best sun. Also try to arrive before 11 AM if possible as the tide rises during the afternoon, therefore reducing the space on the beach. Before you head off to the beach, make sure to pack a bag of beach essentials.

Joatinga is located just 10-12 kilometres from Leblon in the neighbourhood of Joá.

Itacoatiara Beach

Although not technically in Rio de Janeiro, Itacoatiara is located between the neighbourhoods of Itaipu and Itaipuaçu in Niterói, a city just across the bay from Rio de Janeiro. Located 20 miles  (32 kilometres) from downtown Rio, it remains something of an oasis, visited almost exclusively by surfers and locals.

The beach stretches out for 700m and a big rock separates the beach into two different spaces. The first half is known as ideal for surfers as the waves and current are quite strong, while the remaining half (although not as large) is protected from the waves and is perfect for a leisurely swim.

The beach is also situated in a environmental protected area and is surrounded by hiking trails that will lead you inside the Serra da Tiririca’s State Park to the top of the surrounding hills where the views are truly breathtaking.

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Yvonne Ivanescu is the founder of Now in Rio; 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 websiteFacebook and/or Instagram page.

Photo credits: Barra da Tijuca by Rafael Rabello de Barros. Prainha Beach by Halleypo/Halley Pacheco de Oliveira.

    27 Comments

  1. I always prefer less crowded and less explored places. My go to beach would be Prainha.
    Thanks for this post on Rio.

    • Us too Himanshu … Glad we could give you some ideas for your trip to Rio :)

    • If you do come to Rio Himanshu, please contact us, we would love to meet up and/or provide you with some other great tips about Rio!

  2. Looks like some offbeat beaches when you seen the number of people there. Prainha seems like the one for me.

    • Absolutely Gokul – I think tourists flood to Copacabana and Ipanema, so these options are definitely incredible if you’re aiming to avoid the crowds – just as, if not even more, beautiful than their famous counterparts too!

  3. I haven’t been to Rio and I’m definitely visiting one day in the future. Didn’t know they have awesome pristine beaches here. I love surfing and just lazying around the beach so Praia Vermelha sounds sooo perfect for me, plus making my way to Bar e Restaurant Urca for beer and crab. Pretty much an ultimate way to end the day!

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Cathy, and that we could set you up with some beach recommendations for your time in Rio.

      Have a great trip!

  4. Ah amazing, I always love hearing about new awesome Rio spots. I love the city dearly and every time I visit I find another great hot spot. Love these secret beaches – the only one I knew about was Itacoatiara! I need to step up my game.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Emma, and that we could set you up with some new places to visit on your next trip.

      Have a fabulous time!

  5. Praia vermelha is a really good choice because it’s close to the main attractions but isn’t as crowded as Copacabana and Ipanema. And there’s a nice restaurant there, from where you can eat while enjoying the sea view and the Sugar Loaf!

    • Absolutely Cadu – it may be one of Rio de Janeiro’s smallest beaches, but it definitely have a lot to offer!

  6. Any of these beaches seem like amazing alternatives to the city beaches of Rio … those ones are too crowded for my introvert sensibilities :P

    • Absolutely Caroline – I think tourists flood to Copacabana and Ipanema, so these options are definitely incredible if you’re aiming to avoid the crowds – just as, if not even more, beautiful than their famous counterparts too!

  7. Joatinga beach looks amazing! Great post!

    • Absolutely – try to arrive before 11 am if possible as the tide rises during the afternoon which reduces the space on the beach. But a beautiful spot for sure.

      Glad you enjoyed the post!

  8. Meg, sounds like a good list of beach options for my family, except that Rio is literally the other end of the earth (from India!). We visited way back in 2010, and as first-time travellers to Rio, did go to both Copacabana and Ipanema. I remember the latter being really nice. Copa was too crowded for my liking. We had stayed at the Sheraton then and I second your comments on Vidigal beach. But the best beach experience in Brazil for us was in the small town of Paraty. Its nice to mix a smaller town with a big city to get a feel of a country.

    • Copa is definitely a crowded beach – so glad you had a fabulous time though, and enjoyed Vidigal beach from the Sheraton – stunning hotel right!

      Thanks for the tip on Paraty – I’m also a big fan of taking in the small town vibes, usually much more authentic view of a country’s culture than you get in the big cities which are often very westernized.

      Hope you have the chance to head back for a second time :)

  9. I’m sure I will check out Copacabana and Ipanema when I visit Rio, but these more remote beaches seem significantly more beautiful and peaceful. I love the access to fresh fish and cold beer at all of these beaches. It is exactly what I would want when sitting on a serene beach in Brazil.

    • Copacabana and Ipanema are definitely beaches you have to visit for the sake of checking them out, but yes, for actual beach time definitely head to some of these hidden gems. Especially if you’re after peaceful and beautiful – Brazil doesn’t disappoint, you just need to know where to look :D

  10. I’m all about the out of the way from tourist beaches! Think my choice is Prainha Beach, who doesn’t love being surrounded by rain forest mountains.

    • Prainha Beach is a great choice – hope you have the chance to take in Rio sometime soon!

  11. Secret beaches have their own charm. We always are on the lookout for these relatively unknown and secluded beaches.This list of beaches seem really gorgeous, each one of them seems to be better than the other.My personal pick of the lot would be Praia Vermelha, which looks really stunning.

    • Praia Vermelha really is a stunning spot isn’t it! Hope you have the chance to travel soon – glad you enjoyed Yvonne’s list of secret rio beaches :)

  12. I’m keen to visit Rio and although I will go to famous Copacabana and Ipanema, Prainha Beach sounds and looks like more my style. There is something about crescent-moon shaped beaches that really appeals to me. And the nearby rainforest covered mountain would be a great spot to cool off. Thanks for sharing these remote beaches.

    • I think as a tourist you still do need to visit Copacabana and Ipanema, to soak in the atmosphere and almost cross them off the list. After-all they’re famous for a reason!

      But yes, Rio is definitely a lot more than just these, and it’s great to explore more off the beaten path, hidden gems :) Prainha Beach is a great choice – agree that the scenery is just stunning, and it’s a paradise location to go for a dip!

  13. Great beach finds for people who love to explore a bit more than the popular ones. I am not really a beach person – but Rio has been on my list since forever!

    • Thanks Shraddha – hope you have the chance to visit Rio soon :)

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