From Carnival’s wild festivals, to the favelas’ dizzying heights, to the sexy samba beats on the street of Lapa, Rio de Janeiro is a city of beauty, magic, and fascination. In this city of God, people strive for the purest form of happiness as they sing, dance, and swim with the ocean waves of wild beaches.

Forget about Copacabana and Ipanema, head to a secret beach and have a quiet date with nature. There, no street vendors, no expensive alcohol, no intrusion of technology, you will get a glimpse of what Rio really is about in the eyes of the Cariocas. There, you will listen to the ocean waves as you fall asleep on the beautiful soft sand.

1. Praia do Secreto (The Secret Beach)

Praia do Secreto, Rio de Janeiro | Yimin Shen

Located 45 minutes away from Copacabana, Praia do Secreto is a natural pool of crystal clear water formed by rocks in the west zone of Rio de Janeiro. This is an underdeveloped beach, which means there is little pollution.In sunny days, the water is clear, calm, and shallow.

However, it takes a little effort to get here.

You need to take either a bus (315 Recreio Direto) or a BRT from the city and get off at Recreio station. (Recreio is the name of the nearby town.) After you arrive in Recreio, walk west along the beach until you get to the end of Praia da Macumba (20 min.) There, you will see a small hill and there’s a path in the woods that will lead you to the secret beach.

  1. Don’t wear flip-flops! It’s hard to climb up the hill and descend through the rock in order to get to the water. Wear tennis shoes or wear nothing–barefoot is the way the locals do it!
  2. Don’t go when it’s windy or rainy. The pool only forms at low tide.
  3. Bring water and stay hydrated! There is no convenience store or anyone selling water after you get off the bus.

2. Lagoa da Tijuca

Lagoa da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro | Yimin Shen

Lagoa da Tijuca is a small lake formed by ocean water in the neighborhood of Barra da Tijuca, south zone of Rio. If you are looking for a place to relax, have a picnic and swim with beautiful fishes, this is the place to go. It’s a popular place for many local kids, who come here to fish after school.

In order to get here, you can take a bus (900 Barra da Tijuca), BRT, or a metro and get off at Pasarela Barra (the Barra bridge.) Afterwards, you need to walk east along the beach for five minutes and you will see a beautiful blue lake that is Lagoa da Tijuca.

  1. Bring a canga (Brazilian beach towel) to sit on because the sand there isn’t that clean.
  2. Check the weather before you go! The water can be dangerous when it’s raining.
  3. Pedra do Arpoador: The Magical Place to Watch The Sunset

3. Pedra do Arpoador

Pedro do Arpoado, Rio de Janeiro | Yimin Shen

Enjoy a 360-degree view of the sunset as the sky turns into bright pink and orange. Located in between Copacabana beach and Ipanema beach, Pedra do Arpoador is Rio’s most romantic place to catch the sunset. Crowd sing and applaud as the last bit of sunshine disappears in the horizon.


The sunset is around 7:45 pm during summertime. Arrive early so you can get a spot closest to the sun!

4. Praia do Perigroso (The Beach of Danger)

Praia do Perigroso, Rio de Janeiro | Yimin Shen

Located in the neighborhood of Barra da Guaratiba (1-hour from downtown), Praia do Perigroso is a secret spot that most tourists don’t know about. The beach itself is surrounded by high mountains on one side and the ocean on the other side, therefore, making the beach a perfect hideaway spot. The nearby town Barra da Guaratiba is a hillside village overlooking the ocean, much like Santorini in Greece. It’s the most authentic Carioca neighborhood and it hosts almost no tourists. In order to get to the beach, you need to complete a one-hour hike through a small hill on top of the village.

In order to get here, you need to either take a bus (#867 Barra da Guaratiba) from downtown Rio or take a BRT and get off at the final stop in the village of Barra da Guaratiba. There, you can take a motor taxi all the way to the start of the mountain trail. (10 reais) And it takes another hour and a half to get to the beach.


Pack lots of food and water! The hike is very long and exhausting. After you get to the beach, there will be no one selling things because you will be one of the few people there!

5. Praia do Recreio

Praia do Recreio, Rio de Janeiro | Yimin Shen

Located in the south zone 20 minutes away from Barra da Tijuca, Praia do Recreio is Rio’s surfer’s beach. It’s also called the “Green Beach” of Rio because it’s very clean and environmentally friendly. It’s a paradise for surfers and people who look to spend time with nature.


Avoid going there in the mornings because the beach will be packed with surfers. But it becomes empty and quiet after around 2pm.