By Ciara Long, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Barra’s Zona Oeste (West Zone) beaches offer some of the best surfing in the whole of Rio state. With fewer crowds than Arpoador, Ipanema, Copacabana or Leblon and more consistent waves, it’s no wonder the area is gaining popularity as a surf spot for tourists.
The beaches of Macumba and Recreio das Bandeirantes, located in Barra, have been consistently ranked as one of Rio de Janeiro’s top surf spots. Even before Olympic investment began in developing the area, Macumba and Recreio were already world-renowned surf spots, and in 2008 hosted the Billabong Girls’ World Qualifying Series and the World Championship Tour.
Local55 is a surf school offering a pick-up service from Zona Sul (South Zone) locations. It takes surfers to Macumba beach in Barra for a two-hour lesson with an English-speaking instructor and then an hour-long practice session. The session costs R$250 and includes pick-up, drop-off, lunch and equipment hire in addition to the lesson.
Eduardo Marques, founder of Local55, says that he chose to set up in Barra because Macumba provides great conditions for a range of surf levels. Local55 has been popular, too, consistently having approximately eight tourists per week learning with one of the school’s two instructors.
“I worked in tourism before and decided to open my own agency to offer more interesting activities,” Marques told The Rio Times. “Macumba has the most regular waves of anywhere in Rio.”
Marques also believes that the Zona Oeste beaches offer a lot of unique opportunities for tourists. “Barra has the potential for a lot of activities related to sport and nature. It’s the best place to practice surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing,” he said.
Rio Adventures, a specialist adventure tourism company based in the city, offers daily surf trips out to Barra’s Quebramar beach at 9AM, 11AM and 3PM year-round for R$70. The tourism operator also offers full-day surf trips for small groups with some previous surf experience, heading to some of the city’s further-out beaches for between R$290 and R$350 for the day.
For those wishing to stay closer to their surf spots, Rio Surfcamp offers the opportunity for tourists to stay in Recreio das Bandeirantes, Barra, complete with airport transfers and lessons ranging from beginner to advanced. The hostel runs daily surf safaris with qualified instructors to seven of Rio’s best surf spots.
Among the famous surf spots, Rio Surfcamp takes enthusiasts to Prainha, Grumari and Macumba. Prices vary depending on lesson levels, accommodation options and equipment hire.