The Quiet City Beach and Tropical Forest Trail !
Praia Vermelha is the smallest city beach in Rio de Janeiro,and it lies in a sheltered cove between the 688 ft Morro da Urca and the 754 ft Morro da Babilonia. It's here where you catch the 2 stage cable car up to Morra da Urca and then on to the 1300 ft Sugar Loaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) out in the bay.
It's very easy to get here from the tourist beach areas, and the best way is by taxi (R$10) or by bus.
Praia Vermelha means 'Red Beach' and derives its name from the reddish yellow sand found here. This is contrasted to other beaches in Rio de Janeiro that have white sand. As this beach is set back and protected from the rough surf of the Atlantic Ocean, the water is quite calm. However it is occasionally not clean and thus not always suitable for swimming.
Insider's Tip - Before you pack your clothes or hit the beaches in Rio de Janeiro, find out what to take and what to leave behind, by visiting our Beach Tips page.
There's a nice little park directly behind this beach with many tree lined low walls on which to sit and take in the scenery. Several food vendors set up here throughout the day, so this makes for a nice place to enjoy a cheap lunch or afternoon snack.
Families of Tiny Monkeys !
However, the real draw here is the wonderful 2 km paved trail - Pista Cláudio Coutinho, which starts just next to Praia Vermelha and hugs the rocky coastline out around the base of Morro da Urca.
This lush short stretch of tropical forest is almost completely tree covered. Along the way you will likely encounter families of small monkeys living in the trees that line and cover the trail. Most of the monkeys dart about in the canopy overhead, but some relax in the trees surprisingly close to eye level.
This very safe trail is managed by the government, and it's prohibited to feed the wildlife. However, Cariocas (Rio natives) and tourists alike feed bananas to the small monkeys, who will eat them right out of your hand! As is quite common in Brazil, there are minor rules which are meant to be broken...
Pista Cláudio Coutinho is a wonderful excursion and is a safe place to bring a camera. There are many opportunities to take photos of the plant life in the forest, the little monkeys, looking out towards the sea, and looking back to Praia Vermelha. You can also take some dizzying photos looking up to Morro da Urca.
Insider's Tip - about half way down the walking trail you will find a hiking path that takes you up to Urca. Climbing gear is not needed, but it's a rather strenuous hike. You can reach Urca by this path and bypass the need to pay for the 1st stage of the cable car. From Urca you can take the 2nd cable car up to Sugar Loaf (Pão de Açúcar).
Walking on this shaded trail makes for a comfortable and highly enjoyable mid day excursion when the sun is at it's peak. After visiting Praia Vermelha and walking the trail out and back, head up to Morro da Urca and Sugar Loaf by cable car to enjoy the late afternoon and then a beautiful Rio de Janeiro sunset!
See our Rio de Janeiro Tours page for information about the Perfect Rio de Janeiro Sightseeing Day which includes a visit to Christ the Redeemer Statue, Sugarloaf, Praia Vermelha, and the Pista Cláudio Coutinho trail.
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