By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – While most visitors seek relief from the current heat wave at the waters of Copacabana and Ipanema beach leaving those beaches immensely crowded on weekends and holidays, Rio’s lesser known, more hidden beaches become the alternative for those who look for some tranquility.
The current number one go-to beach for Rio’s in-crowd and upper class is Joatinga beach. The small stretch of white sand of only around 300m is hidden in the Joá neighborhood, a small patch of land shortly before Barra da Tijuca.
The beach is located right after the Joá highway that connects São Conrado with Barra and has to be accessed through a closed condominium (although entrance to the beach is liberated for everyone) in the Pascoal Segreto street.
Parking is limited and therefore one has to arrive early in the morning on weekends to still find a spot. The same goes for Prainha, the beach gem after Recreio dos Bandeirantes. In the current summer months, the street that leads to Prainha is closed off for traffic from 9AM to 3PM and parking is newly forbidden along the road.
Prainha, the “little beach”, is located in a small bay surrounded by lush green hills, which make a great contrast to the blue water and white sandy beach. Its 700 meter of extension guarantees that you can always find a patch of beach for yourself. Prainha has some beach kiosks for refreshments, but is spared by the yelling vendors that crowd the city’s beaches.
Continuing the road that led to Prainha, one arrives at another secluded seashore called Grumari beach. Grumari is located in the same natural reserve as Prainha, although its 2.5km of sandy beach have a more rustic and even more deserted feeling to them. A part of Grumari, Abricó beach, has become Rio’s first official nudist zone.
Grumari is also the last area with native Restinga coastal forest in the city of Rio de Janeiro with around 46 plants that are in danger of extinction. One of them is the “Grumarim”, an Esenbeckia flower type, which gave the name to the area.
Another reason to make all the way to Grumari is the variety of its great seafood restaurants. They serve the catch of crabs or fish of the day in a simple environment, but put the freshest fish you can get in Rio on your table.
One culinary highlight is the Point de Grumari restaurant located at the top of the hill in direction of Barra de Guaratiba. Next to great food, it also offers a panoramic view of the national park and the Marambaia sandbank with a great sunset view as well.
Joatinga, Prainha and Grumari are also great beaches to surf and offer the most consistent waves in Rio de Janeiro. Especially Prainha is popular among the more experienced surfers as it has powerful lefts and rights that can get up to 3 meters high during the winter months.
Unfortunately, all three beaches are difficult to reach by public transport and finding a parking spot for your car is difficult, especially on the weekend, so an early arrival is advised. However, this is one of the reasons why the beaches have so far been spared by the masses.