While Rio de Janeiro is world famous for its two main beaches, Copacabana and Ipanema, one of the city’s most scenic beaches is in the remote area of Prainha. Located at the far west end of the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood, Prainha is a preserved section of rainforest that includes 766 yards (700 meters) of secluded sand, known as Prainha Beach. Make the effort to get to this peaceful beach, a favorite amongst expert surfers and Rio residents keen to avoid the crowds.
Start the day with a swim in the secluded bay. Watch the surfers riding the waves, which reach up to 10 feet (3 meters). Along the shoreline, look out for locals playing frescobol, which is a combination between beach volleyball and table tennis.
If you feel yourself getting sunburned, seek shelter at one of the small restaurants located behind the beach and sample seafood fresh from the nearby waters. Or, head inland to explore the cool rainforest. Climb to the top of one of the hills that shelters Prainha Beach from the surrounding area on a guided hike and enjoy the views over the bay. Bring insect repellent, as mosquitoes are common in the rainforest.
During the weekend, Prainha Beach can get surprisingly crowded, given its remote location. If you are hoping to escape the crowds of Rio’s more centrally located beaches, visit Prainha Beach on a weekday, when it is often nearly empty. Regardless of the day, make sure to arrive in the morning, since the beach lies in the shadow of the hills in the afternoon.
Prainha is located about 22 miles (35 kilometers) west of Ipanema Beach. The easiest way to arrive at Prainha is to drive, as there is a large parking lot along the beach. Otherwise, grab your beach towel and hop aboard the Surf Bus, which runs between downtown Rio and Prainha Beach several times a day, stopping at various beaches and beachfront hotels along the way.