By Hakan Almerfors, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO – Surfing in Rio is a mixed bag, and so an insider is needed to find the good breaks. This articles covers some of the basics, but see the link at the end of the article for a more detailed guide and current conditions.

Some of the breaks from Leme/Copacabana to Vidigal are easy to get to on foot, but to get to the rest transportation is required. One of the easiest way is to go in Rio, is on the “Surf Bus” – a service operated by the city. They run everyday except Mondays and have English speaking staff on board.

Recreio Beach, on a weekday you can have it almost to yourself, photo by Hakan Almerfors.
Recreio Beach, on a weekday you can have it almost to yourself, photo by Hakan Almerfors.

The itinerary is: Largo do Machado (Flamengo)-Botafogo-Copacabana-Ipanema-Leblon-São Conrado-Barra de Tijuca-Recreio-Macumba-Prainha and leaves at 7 AM/10 AM/1 PM/4 PM. Call (21) 2539-7555 to confirm a ride, they will then provide a time and street corner for the pick up.

The Surf Bus returns from Prainha at 8:30 AM/11:30 AM/2:30 PM/5:30 PM, and goes back at the same stops back to Largo do Machado. The bus cost only a few R$ and can take up to 30 passengers with boards.

Renting boards is possible at Prainha beach and in some hostels. Buying boards is possible at the Galeria River on Rua Francisco Otaviano 67 in Arpoador. Weekends and holidays get busy and all decent breaks get really crowded.

Click image for Google Map of surfspots in Rio.
Click image for Google Map of surfspots in Rio.

Here is a list of some of the better breaks in Rio – starting from the city going eastward out past Barra de Tijuca:
Leme/Copacabana In Leme the best break is close to the rocks on your left. In Copacabana it’s best in front of Posto 5 and 6 and only when you a big swell coming in – then it can be really good with long consistent waves.
Praia do Diabo At the eastern end of Ipanema Beach, just past the Arpoador rock – a short break with easy rights and sharper lefts.
Arpoador On the Ipanema side of the big rock sits the best break inside the city. It’s a left. Watch out for the rocks and patriotic locals. Very crowded.
Ipanema Beach There are various break all along, depending a lot on conditions. When there is a big swell there is a break quite far off some underwater rocks, in between Posto 8 and 9.
Leblon In the south end of the Leblon beach there is a good right-hander off a channel outlet. Normally not to crowded. There is another break on the end off the rock known as “Pontal de Leblon”.
Vidigal Just below hotel Sheraton lies a small beach with some okay waves. Watch out for a big rock on the eastern end.

All below are further away:
São Conrado On the beach located in front of the favela Roçinha. An intense spot for waves. Water is sometimes really dirty.
Praia do Pepe On the left side of Barra Beach, a classic gathering point fur surfers in Barra. Popular for wind and kite surfers as well. They rent boards here sometimes.
Barra and Recreio Beach Is a continuous stretch of 18 km. There are many different breaks along the way, best reachable with car or bicycle. Recreio is extra good when there is a large swell from south west.
Macumba Located just around the corner from Recreio. A nice beach with various left and right beach breaks. Has a offshore bank that can be really good when the swells are bigger. Popular with the long boarders.
Prainha The best surf break in close vicinity of Rio. Powerful lefts and rights in an amazing setting. Can get as big as 12-15ft. Use the channels to get out. Beware of grumpy locals.
Grumari Sandy bottoms and easy lefts and rights. Nice and deserted on weekdays. A car is needed to get here since the Surf Bus does not go further than Prainha.

The actual surf conditions are good to check since they vary a lot. At Rio Surf Report there is general info and links to a few good sites.
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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