Oh Brazil, oooooh Rio… I miss you! Brazilian beaches are amazing! The sand is soft, the waves can be huge and the sunsets are colourful. Brazilian beach culture is also various. The beaches aren’t just for sunbathing and enjoying the water. Do sport, try the Brazilian food and drink. Enjoy the magical sunset and listen to the sound of waves.
The water is clear everywhere. The waves are loud, tall and strong, I almost lost my bikini once. It was so good to jump with the waves and enjoy their powers.
You can choose from many beaches in Rio de Janeiro: Praia Vermelha, Praia Copacabana, Praia Ipanema with Arpoador, just to mention the most famous ones. Praia means beach in Portuguese.
This is the view (just part of the stunning view) from the Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf mountain), but that will be another blog post 😉 You can see Praia Vermelha at the bottom of the mountain and the curved shape of Copacabana.
What to do on a Brazilian beach?
Do & watch sport
Sport is very important for Cariocas (people from Rio de Janeiro), they take care of their bodies. One of the most popular sport is running in the sand or on the pavement. The bicycle road along the sidewalk is always in use, so turn left and right before crossing.
The beach volleyball and football are also trendy. They have another fun sport called footvolley, which is the mix of volleyball and football.
Funny to see people riding to the beach with their surfboard. Surf is also popular there.
What can you buy on a Brazilian beach?
Vendors go up and down selling almost everything: canga, bikini, sunglasses, jewellery, toy, ball, caipirinha, suculé (ice cream made of fruit), ice cream, sweets, snacks, milho verde (sweet corn), grilled cheese (they carry the small grill and the cheese), mate tea, and even speakers.
Eating and drinking on the beach
Along the beach, you can find kiosks selling food and drink. Some places sell warm meal as well, you can eat and drink whatever you want, but if you’re in Brazil, try the things you can get only there 😉
Read more in my Brazilian food and drink guide: What to eat and drink in Brazil?
I show you my favourites:
Água de coco (coconut water)
The must-try drink is the coconut water. It’s available almost in every kiosk on the beach in Rio. The coconuts are hung on the side of the kiosk, I always had to stare it. One coconut costs around 6,00 reais. At some places, they cut it after drinking if you ask and you can eat the coconut cream from inside. Delícia!!!
The guys can do the opening with a knife or can drill it (in the last case don’t hope for the coconut cream). In Rio, it’s forbidden to carry a knife with you, so some places don’t have knives.
Look for the huge Açaí signs on the beachside and you won’t regret it. The frozen açaí is made of the purple açaí berries, which is rich in antioxidants and vitamins. The original açaí bowl is served with frozen açaí, granola and banana. The bowl can cost 10, 15, 20 reais depending on the size.
Suculé is a frozen fruit shake. I’ve tried the passion fruit mousse and açaí flavours. Both are very delicious. First, it looked weird, I thought it has a wooden stick like the ice creams. Just open the plastic with your teeth, suck out the ice cream and enjoy.
Protect your skin against sunshine
Brazilian summer is very hot and the sunshine is intense, especially between 10 am and 4 pm. Bring your own umbrella or rent one on the beach. Apply sunscreen even the sky is cloudy, repeat in every 3-5 hours and after coming out from the water.
Drink at least 2 litres of water a day to hydrate yourself.
Take care of your belongings
Always keep an eye on your belongings. Keep it simple, bring only some cash for coconut water and your canga, which is the Brazilian beach towel. Easy to say, nowadays it’s hard to go out without phone… On the beach you can pay by card in kiosks, but not at the vendors, who go around and around.
We didn’t witness any robbery or dangerous situation, fortunately. But we hear stories, so be careful.
After this nice last topic let me introduce you the best beaches of Rio 😉
Praia Vermelha lays at the feet of Pão de Açúcar, located between Morro da Urca (the 1st station to Pão de Açúcar) and Morro da Babilônia. Its coarse sand gives the beach the name vermelha (red).
It’s small and narrow compared to the other beaches. However, it provides a great view of the Pão de Açúcar. The water is calm and clear in the small bay.
We didn’t try out the beach, because around midday when we finished at the Pão de Açúcar, the sun was burning, so just drank a refreshing coconut water and continued our way under the trees to Bar de Urca.
Copacabana, Rio’s most famous beach
Praia de Copacabana is one of the most famous in the world, located on the south part of Rio. The Copacabana promenade was rebuilt in 1970 designed by a Brazilian landscape architect, Roberto Burle Marx. A large landfill increased the area of the road, before 1970 the line of the ocean was identical with the line of the buildings.
The 4 km long pavement was built from small black and white flat stones. This type is called Portuguese pavement, which is a traditional-style pavement used for many pedestrian areas in Portugal. The pattern of the sidewalk forms a giant abstract painting with geometric waves.
Some red stones are used in Copacabana. The three colours are a reference to the three “races” that shaped the Brazilian identity: white for Europeans, black for Africans, and red for indigenous people.
The view would be the best from the top of surrounding tall buildings. I can’t confirm, maybe next time we can adore the panorama from the top (sweet dreams…). Photo from here.
According to Riotur, there are 63 hotels and 10 hostels in Copacabana. The beach hosts many events: Olympic Beach Volleyball, FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, New Year’s Eve celebrations (Revellion) etc. The fireworks of New Year’s Eve is one of the largest in the world. The celebration has become one of the biggest tourist attractions in Rio de Janeiro.
Praia do Arpoador
Located on a small peninsula at the end of Ipanema beach, where Copacabana and Ipanema meet. Arpoador is considered one of the best surf spots in Rio de Janeiro.
It offers an incredible view of Ipanema and Leblon.
You have to visit this spot for watching the sunset, hike to the cliffs and join the others. You can bring snacks, drinks and enjoy the stunning view. It’s totally BEAUTIFUL. The most magical sunset of my life. When the sun went down everyone was clapping. Amazing moment 🙂
Praia de Ipanema is the 2nd most famous beach in Rio. It’s also located in the South part of the city, between Leblon and Arpoador. The beach became popular with the bossa nova jazz song, “The Girl from Ipanema” (“Garota de Ipanema”).
Ipanema is one of Rio’s most expensive districts to live in, has a big selection of world-class restaurants, shops and cafes. The black and white sidewalk is also covered with the Portuguese pavement.
I prefer Ipanema beach (not because it was 2 streets from our Airbnb apartment). It’s less crowded, most tourists go to Copacabana. The sunsets are amazing, I could watch it every day. The sun sets next to Morro Dois Irmãos (Two Brothers), which rise at the western end of the beach.
Praia do Leblon is the continuation of Ipanema beach and goes until Avenida Niemeyer. Leblon beach is adjacent to Copacabana and Ipanema, but it’s much quieter and more sophisticated.
Praia da Reserva in Barra da Tijuca
Barra da Tijuca is located on the West part of Rio, so it’s a bit far from the centre. The area is famous for its beaches, many lakes, rivers and lifestyle. Barra hosted most of the venues of the 2016 Summer Olympics. Photo from here.
Barra da Tijuca owns an 18 km long beach, the largest in Rio. We were lucky to visit Praia da Reserva, which is located in the middle of the long beach, the water is clear and popular place for surfers.
The Carioca friends of my boyfriend went there by car to surf and we accompanied them. They enjoyed the big waves. I sunbathed and went to the water.
This is a fancy zone, so they told me I don’t have to worry about my bag if I go to the water and leave my stuff there. But better ask your neighbours to look after your belongings.
These are the famous and popular beaches in Rio de Janeiro. As I said, my favourite was Ipanema because of its waves and magical sunsets. Of course, every beach is amazing. Go and find your favourite 😉
Looking for more Brazilian beaches? Then don’t miss the beaches of Ilhabela, which could be a perfect weekend getaway trip from Rio. Read my Ilhabela travel guide and find out what to do there and which are the best beaches.
What do you think, which are the best beaches in Rio de Janeiro and in Brazil? Leave a comment below.