Located in the far west of Rio, Recreio dos Bandeirantes is a beach seldom visited by tourists. The waterfront area houses a quiet, upper-middle class neighborhood that bears the same name and is most commonly referred to as just ‘Recreio.’ Although the 12+-mile (20-km) stretch of sand from Barra da Tijuca to Reserva Beach to Recreio Beach is uninterrupted, the part that is officially considered Recreio Beach begins just southwest of Reserva and northeast of Pontal Rock (Pedra do Pontal), a recognizable granite rock that rises high out of the ocean at the shoreline.
Less busy and crowded than the South Zone beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana, Recreio embodies Rio’s laidback, active, surfer lifestyle. Locals love the area for the wealth of outdoor and water activities, from waterfront running paths and beach volleyball to paddle-boarding and surfing. Recreio Beach is one of few places on Rio’s massive beachfront where the waves are consistently small and gentle, perfect for beginner surfers.
To get a great view of the long stretch of sand from Barra da Tijuca to Recreio das Bandeirantes, it is possible to climb Pontal Rock. At low tide, visitors can walk right up to the rock and reach the top in about 10 minutes. There’s a short but steep portion where a cord is installed to help hikers ascend.
Recreio is located about 20 miles (30 km) from central Rio and the South Zone, with the route running through some of Rio’s more notorious traffic jams. If visiting on a weekday, it’s best to plan transit times outside of morning and evening rush hours, and if visiting on the weekend, try to arrive and leave early to avoid beachgoer traffic. From the South Zone, buses 360 and 2389 go to Recreio dos Bandeirantes, but be sure to check current bus schedules. Street parking is available but likely to fill up by late-morning on the weekends.