Generally our favorite is Itaipu (open ocean) – with its on-the-beach service of food and drink – including umbrellas and chairs. Some of our friends prefer Cambuinhias (open ocean) because it is a location not serviced by a bus line – so there is a different “class” of people who go there (those who can afford a car). There, too, they have on-the-beach service. (This whole class thing drives me crazy - you see it everywhere in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. URRGH!)
The younger set prefers Itacuatiara (open ocean) with its stronger surf. It’s a super beautiful beach that satisfies surfers and the “see and be seen” younger crowd.
The one we go to only occasionally is Piratininga (open ocean). There is bus service, but no on-the-beach services. So the crowds are minimal. You have to bring your own sun umbrella (and chairs if you prefer.)
Our nearby local beach is Icarai (bay). It’s terrific for people watching – lots of beach volley ball and soccer. The view of Rio is spectacular. But the water is less than pristine, so we never go there for swimming.
One jewel in the bunch is Praia das Forte. It is on a military base so we can only go there when our friends Marco Aurelio and Lilia extend an invitation. Marco Aurelio is a career military guy. This beach is amazing (open ocean.) It has complete on-the-beach services PLUS the added advantage of being subsidized-cheap for the military and way less people per square meter. And the view of Rio and the mouth of the bay is “reach-out-and-touch” amazing.
Ahhhh – so many beaches – so little time.