Grumari, Prainha, Macumba, Joatinga and Praia Vermelha
Located far to the west of Rio de Janeiro in a nature reserve it’s clean and beautiful. Embedded in Atlantic Rainforest it is one of the favorites for many Cariocas. There is -almost- no commerce here, so best is to bring food and drink. In order to get here you need a car, maybe some local agrees to bring you there. A taxi there can be expensive and also leave you with the problem how to get home. An option is to get the metro to station Jardim Oceanico in Barra and order an Uber from there. The Uber can wait for a couple of hours and then bring you back to the metro station. Avoid sunny weekends because traffic is really, really bad then. Prainha
Located a little bit closer on the same road but that leads to Grumari is Prainha, it is considered to be the best surf beach in Rio. It has a few quiosques with food and drinks. Macumba
Just next to Recreio you have Macumba Beach, named after a big flat rock where descendants from Africa used to practice their religion Macumba. One of Rio’s best beaches for surfing and particularly long boarding, it’s pretty accessible. You can either take the local bus on the beach avenues in Copacabana or Ipanema (beware of reversed traffic on Sundays and holidays), Sunny weekends are crowded.
This is a real gem and well hidden. Almost only accessible by car. If you don’t know how to get there it’s gonna be hard, so you need someone to show you. In São Conrado you are supposed to enter Estrada de Joá. The beach is located inside a condominium of houses, wedged in between some cliffs; it’s quite a steep little hike to get down there. The tide has to be low, otherwise you have no beach. Bring water and bananas since vendors are rare.
Last but not least is the often forgotten Praia Vermelha (English: the Red Beach). Located at the foot of the Sugarloaf mountain it is a very special place to be. The water for some reason (it is located quite deep in to the bay) always seems to be quite clean here. There are a few good restaurants in the area and makes a perfect combination with a visit to the Sugarloaf mountain.