By Virgilio Arnaut, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Despite its huge popularity with tourists and ubundant natural wonders, there are still some corners of Rio that have yet to be uncovered by tourists. Frequently overlooked by travellers because of its location on the ‘other’ side of Guanabara Bay, Itacoatiara Beach rewards those who go the extra distance to reach it. Located 20 miles from downtown Rio, it remains something of an oasis, visited almost exclusively by surfers and locals.
Actually Itacoatiara beach, also called Itacoá by natives, isn’t situated within the city of Rio, but Niterói, the city you see when you look across the Bay. One can get there by ‘Barcas’ (a type of a ferry boat that can be taken from Praça XV), or by bus or car crossing the Rio-Niterói bridge, the largest in Brazil. If you’re visiting Niterói on a sunny day is highly recommendable to use both manners, going by one manner and returning by the other, as both provide amazing views.
Beyond being the name of the beach, ‘Itacoatiara’ is also the name of the beautiful residential neighborhood around it. With its own police station to reassure your safety, one can truly relax and enjoy all that this dazzling place has to offer.
You don’t have to worry about about bringing food when coming to Itacoá, but don’t look for restaurants either. Instead, pick one of the many kiosks along the beach, where you will find good food and cold drinks. What you may not find is a bathroom and visitors are left to their own devices.
The only access to Itacoá is through the road ‘Francisco da Cruz Nunes’. If you are visiting this spot for the first time you should go by bus, the road can get a little bit confusing for the unfamiliar. Grab the 38-ITAIPU at Niterói bus terminal, just a few steps from the ferry boat station. Once on the R$2,20 bus, it takes about 30 minutes to arrive at Itacoá.
Unlike most of Rio’s urban beaches Itacoatiara’s nature is well protected. In fact it’s situated in an area of Environmental Preservation under protection of ‘Serra da Tiririca’s State Park’ on the Oceanic Region of Niterói. The best way to explore the park is by taking one of the hiking tracks, which will lead you inside the forest and to the top of the hills where the views are breathtaking.
A big rock separates this exotic looking beach into two very different spaces. The first with a half mile of white sand is the perfect place for surfers due to its strong waves. The second is not so large but protected from the waves by the rocks, and because of this it’s where children can be free to play in safety.
If you are looking for simplicity and serenity the best days to visit Itacoatiara are from Monday to Friday. During hot weekends this beach can get crowded – but mostly by young and beautiful people.