Located to the north of Niteroi, Itocoatiara is one of the best beaches around Rio. The surf is legendary, with a beach break that can produce some huge barrels, as well as point break which is popular with bodyboarders. The main beach is 1.5km of soft sand, and is flanked by two huge outcrops of rock. At one end of the beach is a small cove, known as Prainha, that offers sheltered access to the sea, and is frequented by visiting families. There are several permanent kiosks, as well as temporary beach bars during peak times, where you can buy cold beer and hire deck chairs and umbrellas. When the surf is big, the serious surfers and bodyboarders come out to play. It can be dangerous to swim at these times, but there is usually a life-guard on hand when conditions are dangerous. When the surf is a little calmer, you can swim and bodyboard all day. The main beach is bounded by an impressive outcrop known as Costão, which can be climbed via well-worn path that runs along the landward ridge, although this is still quite steep in places. Once at the top, you are rewarded with spectacular views of the lagoons around Niteroi. There are a few shops and restaurants amongst the exclusive beach-side villas that nestle between the outcrops, but don’t expect large shops or bustling night-life.
To get there by bus, take the 38 from Niteroi, or the 770D from Praca XV in Rio. Alternatively, find someone with a car. Journey times vary, but you can get there in 1-2 hours. If you want to see what the surf is like, you can check out the webcam, or view the forecast on Magic Seaweed.