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    UPDATED: May 16th, 11am

Rio on the top

27 April 2012 Posted in Event Information Lifestyle

Rio de Janeiro is on the top. Still under the effects of the carnival that overcame all the records, the Olympic Games of 2016 headquarter, the main stage of 2014 World Cup and Rock’ in Rio 2011 home Rio now celebrates the return of the World Tour. Billabong Rio Pro happens after almost a decade far from the city. A very celebrated decision by those who live in Rio, and they will be able again to watch closely the best surfers of the world. The original place of national surf, our good and old Arpoador, had been chosen to be one of the alternatives to the championship and the main stage is going to be built in Barra da Tijuca. The local decision of the competition, however, is going to be taken according the most favorable conditions of the sea. It’s going to be another big party in Rio and because of that ALMA SURF highlights some tips and options for you to enjoy the best of the wonderful city. 

The waves

How about starting the day in the urban south beaches? There are many good alternatives from Leme to São Conrado, in tubular waves close to the sand. Some of the best waves are in the south zone of Rio in high tide days. The rights from Pontão, the long lefts of Arpoador and the hills of Baixio, in Copacabana, illustrate that every Rio surfer must have a gun in his quiver. Also, there is the surf of some slabs in the neighborhood. But if you prefer the safety of the ground to deal with difficult conditions, the sand of Ipanema guarantees a beautiful show, of women and the most applauded sun set of the city. Or maybe you can choose to have fun in a slackline − a modern version of tightrope − more and more popular in Ipanema.

Green beaches

The west zone beaches are also great options to surf. Barra da Tijuca is the biggest of them, with many ditches all around in 15km of sand, from Quebra Mar to Recreio dos Bandeirantes, passing by the preserved area of Reserva. Barra receives swells from a variety of directions, showing waves that can be tubular or full and maneuverable. In good days, it’s possible to choose the best ditch and surf almost alone, mainly in the early morning. The neighbor beach of Macumba is the paradise of the long boards, where animated veterans have fun together with beginners and new talents. The kiosks of the surfer Rico de Souza is a meeting point and a reference there.

Prainha and Grumari

But it is behind the next mountain, separated by a sinuous and bent road on top of the coast, that are the hidden and “untouched” Prainha and Grumari. Both of them compose a stunning scenario that can be called the eco sanctuary of Rio surfers. Big waves and pretty people in an Environmental Protected Area (Área de Proteção Ambiental [APA]) where there are no buildings and where green predominates. In a few more minutes by car and we finally arrive to the last board of the surf city − Guaratiba. Located inside a military area, in the Marambaia sandbank, it is a rare jewel and it is considered by some people the best left of Rio coast in the most perfect days. You may think that you are in Indonesia. For receiving swells of different directions and for constant waves, the beaches of the west zone are the most wanted training places by surfers in Rio.

Fun for everybody

Besides the surf there is a lot of fun. Rio is in a promising moment, it is more safety and the population is optimistic. The installation of Peacemaker Police Unit (Unidades de Polícia Pacificadora [UPP]) in some slums allows more people to know a universe full of popular culture. The hill is up to date, and slums like Dona Marta, in Botafogo, Cantagalo, in Ipanema, and Chapéu Mangueira, in Leme, are in the city touristic circuit. It is also worth to appreciate Rio from the top, in Corcovado or in Sugar Loaf Mountain. But if you prefer to enjoy the view with strong feelings, try a flight on the right corner of São Conrado beach. Or go to tracks and climb until the top of Pedra da Gávea, 860 meters high. From the mountains to the asphalt, a peaceful ride can be made in a bicycle rented in the coast, as in River gallery, in Arpoador. A traditional center of surf shops, there it is possible to find everything, boards and accessories and skates for a ride in the rinks of Lagoa, in Arpoador or in Aterro do Flamengo.


It is nice to see Rio downtown revitalized. A good example is the cultural life at bars and houses in Lapa, a traditional bohemian neighborhood in Rio, with many restaurants and shows, such as Circo Voador, Fundição Progresso and Rio Scenarium. Above Lapa arcs, last century trams can take you to the also important neighborhood of Santa Teresa, a place where artists go to enjoy the charm bars. At South Zone, there are many options from the known beer at Baixo Gávea and at Baixo Leblon, to a time to relax at Café del Mar, in Copa, or a most frenetic agitation in Baronneti night clubs, in Ipanema, and Melt, in Leblon. At Barra, the bars at Olegário Maciel Street or the clubs at Armando Lombardi Street can be a good option, like Nuth. And remember, if you drink don’t drive. Rio probably is the place with more blitz of DWI Law, the Brazilian Lei Seca. You wouldn’t want to end your days in the Wonderful City without a car and driving license, right? Good waves and enjoy yourself. 

From South to West Zones, there are a lot of waves in Rio. Check out the information of some of Rio de Janeiro's most traditional surf spots:


Waves: east, southeast
Wind: east, northeast
Height: 1.6 to 9.8 feet
Bottom: sand
Characteristics: long lefts, maneuverable and with barrel sections
Tips: Intense crowd; respect the locals; difficult parking


Waves: south, southwest, southeast, east
Wind: Northeast, light east
Height: 1.6 to 6.5 feet
Bottom: sand
Characteristics: maneuverable waves, formed by many sand hills and ditches for all over the beach
Tips: Choosing the right ditch, you can surf alone; parking accessible by all sea shore


Waves: east, southeast
Wind: Northeast, east
Height: 1.6 to 6.5 feet
Bottom: sand
Characteristics: triangular waves, strong and barreled next to the sand
Tips: one of Rio’s best barrels; water usually dirty; respect the locals; accessible parking


Waves: south, southeast
Wind: light southwest
Height: 1.6 to 9.8 feet
Bottom: sand
Characteristics: waves all over the beach right and left maneuverable on the most different conditions; very solid
Tips: Prainha is a protected area with kiosks, showers, bathrooms. It is frequented by beautiful people and by the best Rio de Janeiro surfers. On the weekends, get there early to guarantee your place


Waves: south, southwest
Wind: northeast, light southwest
Height: 1.6 to 11.5 feet.
Bottom: sand
Characteristics: in the middle of the beach, waves for both sides in small and medium days. With a bigger sea, strong rights in the beach right corner
Tips: a Gun can make the difference on the big days. Spots all over the beach during the week, On sunny weekends, get there early to guarantee your place

Cultural tips 

Rio offers everywhere the most varied fun and leisure options. We selected here a few tips and programs to get the best of Rio de Janeiro.


To get to the 710 meters where the Christ Statue is, there are two ways: by train, that leaves every 30 min. from 513 Cosme Velho street station, or by car via Paineiras road. www.corcovado.com.br - Corcovado Railway – phone number (21) 2258-1329 

Sugar Loaf

From the Red Beach, in Urca, leaves the famous aerial tramway that connects Urca Hill (220 meters) to Sugar Loaf (396 meters). Guanabara Bay, Botafogo and Copacabana privileged view. Unforgettable late afternoons. www.bondinho.com.br

Pasteur Av., 520 –  phone number: (21) 2461-2700 / (21) 2546-8400

Free flight:

From the right corner of São Conrado beach, expert hang gliding and paraglide pilots can take you to an irresistible experience on the take off ramp of Pedra Bonita. If you like adrenalin and want to enjoy a breathtaking landscape then don’t miss it. Information with ABVL / AVLRJ, based on the landing area in São Conrado beach.

Phone number (21) 3322-0266


Another option to know Rio through the social scope is to visit a slum. In safe and informative ways, agencies offers tours to Rocinha, Chapéu Mangueira and Babilônia communities that reveal surprising visits and curiosities about Rio de Janeiro culture. Rocinha: www.favelatour.com.br. Chapéu Mangueira and Babilônia: chapeumangueiratour@gmail.com

Phone numbers: (21) 9395-0716 / 7849-4748 

Bicycle Path

Rio is also a perfect city to be appreciated by bike. There are over 80 miles of bicycle path and for all over South’s Zone fringe there are many rental points in the project Pedal Rio. You just have to register in www.mobilicidade.com.br. Other alternatives are the specialized stores. In Ipanema, Bike Lazer (www.bikeelazar.com.br), in Copacabana, Special Bike (www.specialbikebotafogo.com.) or in Arpoador, at bicycle path Posto 6, next to Galeria River (Francisco Otaviano st., 55. Phone number: (21) 2247-0018).

Any other tourist information about Rio can be found in posts located at the Airports, in the 15 Kiosk of Atlântica Av., in front of Hilário de Gouveia st. or on Hello Rio phones: (21) 2542-8080 / (21) 2542-8004. Besides, the South Zone fringe counts with a Wi-Fi service of free internet.  

Text by: Beto Paes Leme - a journalist, who lives in Copacabana and loves Rio and Botafogo. 

Source: Billabong Rio Pro 2011 Oficial Guide - Alma Surf