Praia do Leme The North Eastern extension of Copacabana beach is quiet and family friendly. The part closest to the hill Morro da Leme on the left gives shade for the good part of the day, nice on a hot day. Many times you have surfable waves when they break against the rocks on the left. Unfortunately pollution is a problem.
Praia Vermelha Located at the foot of the Sugarloaf this beautiful beach is wedged in between two huge rocks covered in green lush jungle. The water is most of the time reasonable clean and it is therefore suitable for bathing. Again the absence of waves makes it a no go for surfers.
Praia da Copacabana The most famous of them all. This stretch of sand is what most people associate with Rio de Janeiro and it´s known around the world. It is very wide and on sunny days you can have hundreds of thousands people crowding. Since it´s artificially enhanced the currents can be pretty tricky so beware. Not considered by the locals to be one of the cooler beaches, the crowd is mainly families, old people and tourists. Lots of sports are practiced here, championships in both beach football and beach volley are held here. In the late afternoon the sun goes away, blocked by the tall buildings along Avenida Atlântica. On Sundays and holidays half of the beach avenue is shut off for cars to give space for pedestrians, joggers, cyclists, skate boarders and the like.
Praia da Barra The biggest beach in Rio, together with its continuation Recreio over 18 km. Perfect for kite surfing and also good for surfing. Since Barra de Tijuca is a neighbourhood for newly rich it is quite fashionable and health oriented. Reasonable clean but sometimes get dirty after rainfall since some lakes overflow and mixes with the ocean.
Macumba Named after a rock where slaves used to practice macumba (black magic) this beach is good for long boarding and bathing. Clean water.
Prainha In the vicinity to the city of Rio this is the best beach for surfing. Constantly good waves although it´s pretty small, on weekends gets really crowded. Clean water.
Grumarí Located in a nature reserve this is a perfect place for relaxing. On weekdays very few people. It has clean water and surf able waves. Bring your own food since there are hardly any vendors.
Botafogo Located in a bay where there is not much circulation of water, since it´s too polluted it is not suitable for bathing. It is mainly used by people who live close by for practicing sports like jogging and football. There are practically no waves so surfing is not possible.
Praia da Ipanema To the left you have good waves off the rock of Arpoador. Reasonable clean water, strong currents though. It gets more sun than Copacabana and during the summer nice sunsets. It´s divided into informal sections; Around Posto 7 (lifeguard tower 7) are the surfers, Posto 8 is for gay, Posto 9 is for the young, hip and hippies, Posto 10 is for the rich. Although you have tourists for the bigger part of the year the feel is local. Between Posto 9 and 10 you have many volley nets.
Praia do Leblon A nice beach but suffers from shade from the big hill Dois Irmãos. Also more polluted because of the outlet from the channel connecting to the lake. Surf on the right hand side.
Praia do Vidigal Small beach with surfable waves. It has polluted water.
Praia do Diabo A really small beach located in between Copacabana and Ipanema. It is an access point for surfers. Many times frescoball (beach tennis) players are here. Most of the time clean water but watch out for currents and waves!
Praia do São Conrado What used to be a paradise beach has been completely destroyed by pollution from the favela Rocinha. Has surfable waves and is also the landing point for hang gliding off the hill Pedra Bonita.
Joatinga One of the cooler beaches in Rio. A small steep trail leads down to this small strip of sand. In order to get here you have to enter a gated community, since no beaches can be private in Rio they have to let you in! Recommended to go here with a car, check the tide since there is only beach at low tide. Good for surfing.