By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – While the legendary beaches of Rio’s Zona Sul (South Zone); Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon, are hard to beat in terms of size, convenience and people-watching, sometimes it is nice to get away from the city. Joatinga Beach is close enough to get to on a day trip, and although small, offers a pristine oasis with striking scenery.
The 300-meter long beach of Joatinga is best known for surfing and bodyboarding, and because of its position gets the best sun in the early part of the day. Another tip for first-timers is that tide rises during the afternoon dramatically reducing the beach real estate, so it is advised to arrive by 11AM if possible and not set up too close to the water.
The beach itself feels quaint and isolated, with a few barracas offering chairs and sun umbrellas. Mostly frequented by locals, many arrive with their own coolers of beer and food, as options are limited to buy anything to eat or drink there.
Another factor that narrows the crowd is the steep walk down from the road along a footpath, with some terrain that requires attention over rocks and a small stream. Yet it is the lack of heavy beach traffic, and hawkers selling drinks and snacks, that helps keep the little oasis clean and rustic.
Mike Smith, and American expatriate living in Rio for the last seven years explained, “Somehow I only got there recently and it is amazing, but it was during Carnival and it seemed like a lot of people had the same idea to escape the crowds. I want to go back soon, but on a quiet weekday morning, to get the most of it.”
Joatinga is just 10-12 kilometers west from Leblon or Ipanema, in the small neighborhood of Joá. By car or taxi it should take approximately 20-25 minutes without traffic, and by bus it will take much longer but can save a budget traveler around R$35-40 each way.
The beach is located right after the Joá highway that connects São Conrado with Barra da Tijuca and has to be accessed through a closed condominium (although entrance to the beach is open for everyone). Parking is limited and therefore one has to arrive early in the morning on weekends to find a close spot.