Getting around surfing in Rio is fairly simple, a lot of the beaches are real easy to access. Copacabana, Leme, Arpoador, Ipanema and Leblon are all located in Zona Sul where you are most likely to stay. If you are a surfer, staying in either Copacabana, Ipanema or Leblon gives you straight access to the beach. Botafogo is a dirty little beach, flat as a lake and never has waves. The best breaks are not in Zona Sul though, they are located quite far away. Getting to these in a local bus is not advisable, the best alternative is the Surf Bus (whenever it runs, see below).
The Surf Bus – The Best Way to Getting Around Surfing
A specially designed bus that can take up to 30 passengers with their boards. It runs everyday except Mondays and have English speaking staff on board. The itinerary is: Largo do Machado(Flamengo)-Botafogo-Copacabana-Ipanema-Leblon-São Conrado-Barra de Tijuca-Recreio-Macumba-Prainha and leaves at 7h-10h-13h-16h. Call 8702-2837 to confirm a pick up, they will then give you a time and street corner to be at for the pick up. The Surf Bus returns from Prainha at 8:30h-11.30H-14:30h-17:30h, and goes back at the same stops to Largo do Machado. Unfortunately, the last few years it has been out of operation for long periods.
Around the State
There are some good waves around the state, getting to many of these locations is easy enough, just get a taxi to the bus station Rodoviária Novo Rio and get a bus. More on this you can find on my To and From the Bus Station page. The taxis are quite small in Rio so if you have a long board it’s a good idea to order a cab from a company so they can send you a car that is capable of fitting your board. A hostel or hotel would most likely help you with that.
The best way getting around surfing is to rent a car, it’s probably not possible with a bigger board unless you rent a really big car. This opens up all the alternatives in the state and together with a good map like Guia Quatro Rodas-Rio and their Surfing Beach Guide you’ll be as good as you can get. Unfortunately it’s a bit tricky to find your way in some places, with a bit of patience you’ll be fine. Read more about renting cars on my Car Rental in Rio page. Needless to say, hooking up with a local surfer that can show you around gives you an edge. Good luck!