Five of the best beaches in Rio de Janeiro state

Rio de Janeiro is a state as well as a city - with some of Brazil's emptiest beaches, wildlife-filled forests and mist-covered mountain ranges. Rio city itself has famously spectacular beach scenery; the Costa Verde is a rugged fold of ridges broken by emerald-green coves and bays dotted with islands; to the northeast Rio state dries into maquis and coastal flats, and near Cabo Frio these run around saltwater lagoons to white-sand beaches. Further north around the resort town of Búzios they fringe a rocky cape cut with half-moon bays and swathes of sand. Here are five of our favourite beaches in the state:

1. Praia do Pontal and Praia do Prainha, Rio

Beyond Barra and Recreio, the beaches at Pontal and Prainha are some of the best in Rio, with fluffy white sand, fresh, clean pounding surf and pretty little chic shack restaurants.

2. Itacoatiara, Niterói

Great for scenery and surfing, the fabulous stretch of sand at Itacoatiara is one of the best in the area.

3. Arraial do Cabo, Região dos Lagos

Beaches with bone-white sands and blue seas as well as dive sites are easily accessible here, and Praia do Farol (on Ilha do Cabo Frio) is surely one of Brazil's best beaches.

4. Lopes Mendes, Ilha Grande

A spectacular and long stretch of sand backed by flatlands and a patchy forest, found on Ilha Grande - a mountain ridge covered in tropical forest protruding from the emerald sea, with no cars and no roads.

5. Trinidade, Costa Verde

Ramshackle little Trinidade has a stunning beach with rainforest running to the ocean, and has long been a hang-out for surfers from Rio and São Paulo.
This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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