The beauty of Rio de Janeiro’s endless coastline leads to one thing: endless beaches. Really, endless. Most tourists think they’ve hit the jackpot when they see the stunning beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana, but that’s just the start of it. For those wanting to get off the well-worn tourist path, escape the crowds and noise, or see the loved-by-locals paradises that put the popular spots to shame, the options are endless. Rio de Janeiro is full of beautiful beaches that most tourists never find, but we’re here to make sure you don’t miss out with the rest of them. Organized by parts of the city, these are all the beaches your sandy feet are going to love wandering to. Expect to see only locals, and enjoy knowing you’ve found a spot most tourists never will.

 

The-Best-Secret-Beaches-in-Rio-de-Janeiro---The-Borderless-Project

 

 

Read more: Getting Perspective: The Best Views of Rio de Janeiro

Read more: The Seaside Colonial Town of Paraty

 

Zona Sul

Tucked right into the main tourist area, these beaches are all easily within reach, and are the best local spots hiding right under your nose.

Leme (Copacabana):

The Northern end of Copacabana, Leme is a clean, calm oasis surrounded by nature. With fewer people, more space and a view back on the rest of Copacabana, it’s an easy way to “get away” without going far. Enjoy a coconut under the palm trees and the beauty of the jungle-covered mountains that border it.

How to Get to Leme: Go past lifeguard Post 1 on Copacabana, to the end of the beach: This end bit is Leme. (You can take the metro to the “Cardeal Arcoverde” station, head to Avenida Atlantica and follow it past where it intersects with Avenida Princess Isabel to reach Post 1).

Praia Vermelha (Botafogo):

This beach is somehow still a well-kept secret, despite being next to one of Rio’s biggest tourist attractions. With red sand, kayaks for rent, and the beautiful Sugarloaf Mountain towering over it, it’s a great secret to be in on.

How to Get to Praia Vermelha: Just go to the Sugarloaf Mountain (Pao de Acucar), which you can access by taking a 5-minute cab from the “Botafogo” metro station. When looking at the cable car entrance, you’ll see the beach to the left.

Praia do Diabo (Ipanema):

Just to left of the Arpoador rock dividing Ipanema and Copacabana is this tiny little beach. When you just have a little time and want to find a hidden spot right near everything, this is it. Strong waves, no crowds, and dog-friendly.

How to Get to Praia do Diablo: You can take the metro to the “General Osorio” stop in Ipanema. When you reach Ipanema beach, go left until the Arpoador rock at the end. It’s the sliver of sand to the left.

Vidigal:

Just below the Vidigal favela and in front of the towering Sheraton hotel is a semi-private beach that many locals take advantage of. It’s smaller and the waves can be strong, but the views back at all of Ipanema are beautiful and you will be glad to have your spot away from the crowds. Many people think it’s just for the Sheraton, but anyone can walk down and enjoy it.

How to Get to Praia Vidigal: From anywhere in Rio, take a bus headed for Vidigal. Ask the driver for the Sheraton (or take a cab to the Sheraton Hotel). When dropped off, simply go around to the left and climb down to the beach!

See all of these South Zone beaches on Google Maps.

 

Zona Oeste (West Zone)

How to Get to All of These: Take the surf bus! Because the West Zone is out of the main tourist areas, the Rio Surf Bus is the perfect option for getting there. You can catch the bus outside the “Largo do Machado” metro stop in Flamengo, and it will pick up at the end of the day at Prainha Beach. It stops at all South Zone beaches, then Barra-Recreio-Macumba-Prainha. All of the beaches below can be accessed from it.

Pick-Up Times @Largo do Machado: 7:00, 10:00, 13:00, 16:00

Pick-Up Times @Prainha: 8:30, 11:30, 14:30, 17:30

Double-check with your hotel or hostel to see if it is currently running as it sometimes takes break periods in low season. If it is not, we recommend using Google Maps in the “Public Transportation” mode to see which buses are currently running from your location.

Praia de Joatinga:

Between São Conrado and the beginning of Barra is Joatinga: Look up some photos and you’ll be sold instantly, it’s the image of a tropical paradise. However, it’s hard to access as you need to climb down rocks, and it disappears by late afternoon when the tide rises. But if you can get yourself there early and are willing to make the effort, you won’t regret it.

How to Get There: The easiest way is to come from Barra or Sāo Conrado (on the surf bus or city bus), and you can grab a cab to take you on Rua Joá to the condominium complex there. Access to the beach is through the complex, and non-residents are always allowed. You will be able to see it, and make your way down the rocks.

Praia de Barra (Barra da Tijuca):

The largest beach in Rio, this 18km (11 mile) stretch of sand is a popular local spot for whenever locals want to get away from the Ipanema crowds. With cleaner water, beaches and much more space, you can’t go wrong here. Just prepare to sit in traffic when you head home.

Praia da Reserva (Barra da Tijuca):

At the end of Barra before you reach Recreio, the Praia da Reserva is part of a natural reserve. With the long views of Barra but even more removed, it’s a great place for those whose priority is relaxation and privacy.

Recreio dos Bandeirantes:

Just a bit further than Barra, every local will tell you it’s worth the extra drive. Even further off the beaten tourist path, this is one of the most beautiful beaches in Rio, with several unique beaches within it. Very popular for surfing.

Praia do Pontal: At the end of Recreio, it’s a gorgeous spot with a sandbar and mini peninsula bordering it. The current can be strong, so make sure to watch children.

Praia da Macumba: On the other side of the sandbar from Pontal, this is also at the end of Recreio. It’s definitely more crowded, but with good reason. Surfer hotspot.

Praia do Secreto: If you take the road between Macumba and Prainha, you won’t believe this beach is hidden between them until you see it. This serene sliver of sand is surrounded by natural pools and rocks, and is the most relaxing place you can find in Rio. Climb over the rocks from Macumba and you’re there.

Prainha (Recreio dos Bandeirantes):

In the neighborhood of Recreio and right after Macumba, this is it’s own secluded beach. The rainforest wraps around it, and you’ll instantly see why Prainha is one of the most beloved secret beaches in Rio. Great for surfing.

Abrico (Recreio dos Bandeirantes):

For those of you looking for something very secretive…welcome to Rio de Janeiro’s nude beach! While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it might be that bold-thing-to-do-while-traveling that you’re looking for. The far end is known for being the gay zone.

Grumari (Recreio dos Bandeirantes):

Just after Prainha, everyone describes this as the wild beach: Shrouded in natural beauty and with no buildings in sight. It’s part of a natural reserve, so the waters are clean and wildlife surrounds you.

See all of these West Zone beaches on Google Maps.

 

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