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5 Great Beaches in Rio de Janeiro

Ipanema beach
Ipanema beach. Credit: Wikimedia

Caressing the feet of the gentle slopes of ever-present green peaks towering over the city, Rio de Janeiro’s beaches are well known and well loved.

Possibly Brazil’s most famous city, Rio’s coast features beaches from the crisp and clean Copacabana to the secluded and romantic Prainha Beach, each gracing the shores with spectacular beauty.

Cruise visitors will find easy access to five of the most popular local beaches.

1. Ipanema

Ipanema, one of the most upscale beaches in Brazil, teems with tourists all year round. Stretching almost 2 miles from the foot of the Pedra Dois Irmãos to the Ponta Arpoador, the beach is spectacular and unique.

With an almost constant crowd, the waterfront action barely ceases. The crowd is mostly young people. As such, be prepared to encounter various sporting activities such as volleyball games, futvolei (similar to volleyball, but no hands allowed) and beach soccer.

Indeed, Ipanema is one of the most active beaches along the coast of Rio. Some have described it as the “Carnival of Ipanema.” Several vendors parade the beach, selling an array of wares and amenities including bathing hats, shades, suits, beach towels and snacks. 

2. Copacabana

Copacabana is Rio’s first in a string of Atlantic Ocean-facing beaches. In fact, Copacabana is one of Brazil`s most popular postcard panoramas.

Unlike Ipanema, this beach is calmer and more suited to strolling along without a care in the world. Still, the beach is often crowded and extremely fast paced. Several kiosks line the beach, so beachgoers can relax and grab a cold drink or snacks while taking a break from the excitement.

However, note that the surrounding areas have experienced issues with various form of crime. As such, lounging on the sands until nightfall may not be the best idea.

Though the high waves are great for surfing, they cause strong currents, so be careful.

3. Barra da Tijuca Beach

Barra da Tijuca holds the distinction of being Rio’s longest beach, stretching all of 11 miles. This beach is particularly well known for its excellent waves, atmospheric and water conditions. Such prime conditions have grown Barra da Tijuca into a mecca for athletics, whether it may be surfing, body boarding or kite surfing.

Numerous surf schools line the beach where individuals may sign up for practical lessons. In addition, several kiosks line the beach selling food and coconut water.

4. Prainha Beach

Of all the beaches mentioned here, Prainha Beach is the quietest and most serene. Blissfully stunning, Prainha is covered by powdery white sands and flanked by rainforest-covered mountains.

The beach is particularly well loved by surfers and other athletes/hobbyist. Reaching the beach may be done via taxi, tour operators or public transportation.

5. Praia Vermelha

Unlike Barra da Tijuca, Praia Vermelha is one of Rio’s smallest beaches. Still, like Praia Vermelha, the crows here tend to be enormous.

Laced with reddish-hued sands, the beach lies secluded in a cove caressed by calm waters.

Like most Rio beaches, Praia Vermelha is also complete with several kiosks that offer relatively inexpensive food. In addition, there is a cable car that takes tourists to the top of the famous Sugarloaf Mountain as well as a mile-long hiking trail along the coastline.

From the glamorous Ipanema to the more secluded and lesser-known Piranha Beach, Rio de Janeiro’s beaches bring an atmosphere of relaxation and comfort.

Still, it is of utmost importance that visitors remain safe. While certain neighborhoods in Rio do experience crime, most beaches are patrolled. Still, it is important for tourists to remain aware of their surroundings and follow the instructions of authorities. If they follow those simple guidelines, they should experience a safe vacation on the shores of Rio.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
February 17, 2020

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