Songs tout the beauty of Rio de Janeiro’s beaches and beachcombers, and for good reason. Brazil’s “Marvelous City” boasts nearly 50 miles of powdery beaches, stretching south and west from shimmering Guanabara Bay and patrolled intermittently by Sugar Loaf, Christ the Redeemer, and Dois Irmãos (Two Brothers in Portuguese) like immense, natural lifeguard stations. An abundance of beaches in turn means an abundance of beach bodies, and nothing says tall and tan and young and lovely like the leggy lovelies occupying prime real estate along Rio’s silvery strands. And whether you go for the sun, the surf, or the salacious sights, you won’t go wrong if you head to these best beaches in Rio.
1. Copacabana Beach.
Crowded and bustling with activity, the world’s most iconic beach hosts visitors from around the world, jockeying for sandy space with beautifully bodied Brazilians from the immediate vicinity. Nothing says “I’m in Rio” like strolling along the oceanfront promenade with its instantly recognizable wave-patterned tiles, drinking an ice cold cervejinha and just taking it all in. Take a dip and make new friends, but keep an eye on your valuables (better yet, leave them at the hotel) and be wary after dark.
2. Ipanema Beach.
Known for inspiring bossa nova anthem “The Girl from Ipanema,” Copacabana’s more chic sister sprawls between outcroppings, with different social groups clustering at varying intervals along the length of the beach—families in front of Rua Vinícius de Moraes, the gay crowd at the end of Rua Farme de Amoedo, and the young and beautiful at Posto 10.
3. Praia Vermelha.
Facing east, at the foot of Sugar Loaf, Praia Vermelha makes up for its tiny size with heaps of flavor. A sleeper hit among locals, this small strand is the perfect place for cheap eats and calm dip into the sea. Hiking trails and a branch of the Sugar Loaf cable car round out the offerings.
Just past the Miami-style apartment towers of the Barra da Tijuca district, quiet Prainha is a surfers’ paradise that’s a little bit too far away for the masses, though holiday weekends can see crowds. The raucous Surf Bus can get you there if you don’t have access to a car; the silky sands and crystalline water are worth every minute of the journey.