There are many beaches surrounding Niterói but due to the low water quality within Guanabara Bay it’s best to seek out a “praia oceânica” (ocean beach) for swimming, surfing, snorkeling or fishing.
Itaípu Beach – this has been our personal favorite for years. It is about 1,000 meters long and is bordered on one end by a string of small, simple seafood restaurants which keep you in food and drink at umbrella-shaded tables on the sand. There is a tiny fishing village still in operation with a 1.5 meter wide walkway through its center.
The water is very calm, so this beach attracts families with small children as well as deep water spear fishermen. There’s nothing better than buying a fish from the guy emerging from the sea and then having your restaurant friends cook it up for you. Add cold beer. Ahhh – qualidade de vida. And the sunsets are amazing – with the golden sun dropping behind Rio.
Several Niterói bus lines terminate at the beach and there is a line (Pendotiba 770) that originates in Rio and terminates at the beach.
Camboinhas Beach – This is a very popular beach with food and drink services at tables on the sand (waiters run up and down from the kiosks located back by the road). The 2,600 meter beach can get a little hectic during summer weekends with jet skis zipping back and forth just offshore. The view of Rio is fantastic. Since there is no bus access to this beach it is popular among those with cars, or those seeking to be at a beach where those without cars cannot reach. But this does not mean fewer people. On a hot summer weekend the place is MOBBED with swimmers and sunbathers.
Several bus lines terminate at this beach, but none from Rio.
Itacuatiara Beach – This spectacularly scenic beach is just 700 meters long and is truly mesmerizing. There are no services on the beach, so it is more of a do-it-yourself beach. There are food and beverage kiosks along the frontage road, but you have to leave the beach to get to them and there is a thick bank of vegetation that often blocks your view of the sea.
On the far west end of the beach is a tiny area where the surf is blocked by some rocks. Even on rough water days swimming is possible there. Actually it’s a bit small for swimming proper, but you can safely get wet to escape the heat.
Each beach has its appeal and we switch off from one to the other frequently, depending on our mood or which friends will be joining us. There is no shortage of options. Come check them out.
Best advice: visit the beach Monday through Thursday to avoid the crowds and arrive early to get some beach time in before the sun is impossible to bear.