By Hakan Almerfors, Contributing Reporter

Praia Brava in Cabo Frio is secluded, photo by Hakan Almerfors.
Praia Brava in Cabo Frio is secluded, photo by Hakan Almerfors.

RIO DE JANEIRO – The state of Rio de Janeiro has over 100 beaches, many of them have surf breaks. Knowing where to go can be really hard since road signs and public knowledge is scarce – insider information is necessary. This guide highlights some of the best surf spots outside the city lines.

It is easy and free to bring surf boards on the buses around the state, however it seriously limits the number of options. Many of the best breaks are only reachable by car, but renting one is easy.

The two best places to do this is on either  airport, or on Avenida Princesa Isabel in Copacabana. Driving in Rio can be quite tricky, although once outside of the city it is easy enough with a good map. In most newsstands they sell a book called “Guia Quatro Rodas – Praias” which is a guide to most beaches in the state.

Together with the information provided below it is enough to start beach hopping. A wetsuit is needed on almost all beaches east of Rio because of cold currents.

From North to South (when car needed it is noted)

Rio das Ostras – Costa Azul A consistent short beach break located in the city.
Búzios – Praia Brava A 15 minute walk from the center, empty on weekdays.
Búzios – Geribá The surf beach in Búzios. There are beach breaks all along. The first beach on the right when arriving.
Cabo Frio – Praia Brava Secluded beach that can have good waves, conditions need to be confirmed with local surfers. Car needed, the last 15 minutes is walking.
Cabo Frio – Praia do Forte The most popular beach inside Cabo Frio. Has beach breaks.
Arraial do Cabo – Praia Brava Located on the peninsula Pontal da Atalaya in a dramatic setting. Only strip of sand when tide is low. It is a point break and not for beginners. Car needed.
Arraial do Cabo – Praia Grande Cold water and not always on. When good a nice clean beach break. Never good with swell from the south.

Itaúna beach in Saquarema at sunset, photo by Hakan Almerfors.
Itaúna beach in Saquarema at sunset, photo by Hakan Almerfors.

Saquarema – Itáuna By many considered the best surf spot in the state. Point break. The big attraction is a left of a big rock but other options are available. Warning issued for be aware of protective locals.
Saquarema – Lage de Fora An almost mythical break that only occur with low frequenzy. Accessible in 30 minutes with Jet Ski from Itaúna. When at it´s best can be a 500 meter break with waves reaching 4 meters! Only for pro´s.
Niterói – Itacoatiara A short powerful beach break for experienced surfers. A bit tricky to enter. Very beautiful setting. About 30 minutes by car from Niterói.
Ilha Grande – Lopes Mendes The most surfed beach on the island. Consistent but not spectacular conditions. Available with a short hike after a boat trip from Abrão.
Ilha Grande – Aventureiro A point break accessible by boat trips from the main village Abrão. Good and consistent in a stunning setting.
Parati – Martim de Sá Accessible only after boat to Praia do Pouso and a quite long hike. The reward is a consistent beach break and few people.
Trindade – Praia do Cepilho The first beach when arriving in Trindade. A short beach break.

This was just a selection. Surfers with local knowledge can give tips on good secret spots that may well be worth checking out. The bus company operating east and north of Rio is 1001, south and west is Costa Verde.

Hakan Almerfors is Swedish and has been living in Rio de Janeiro since 2003. He has been working with tourists ever since, in 2007 he created the Rio travel information site


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