If you don't have a car, the Surf Bus is just about the cheapest, easiest, and most fun way to get to the beaches just outside of Rio de Janeiro. Most tourists stay in the Ipanema Beach and Copacabana Beach areas, which are great beaches, but they are, after all, located in a city of over 8 million people. If you are anything like us, after a few days in the city, you're ready to explore the wild and remote beaches for which Brazil is famous.
Catch the Surf Bus in front of one of the ocean front hotels on Ipanema or Copacabana, and in 60-90 minutes, you'll be at some of the most natural and beautiful surfing beaches in Rio de Janeiro state.
The bus runs from 7am, 10am, and 2pm on Tuesday - Sunday, starting at the Largo do Machado, near the Cosme Velho neighborhood, and makes its way
down to Botafogo, Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon Beaches. The bus continues down the coast and drops riders at several beaches including, Sao Conrado, Barra da Tijuca, Recreio, Macumba, and Prainha. It does not go as far as Grumari Beach, as buses are not allowed in that environmentally protected area. (You can walk or jog the short distance from Prainha to Grumari)
The Surf Bus is a converted city Bus, which is outfitted with racks to hold up to 40 surf boards and 30 passengers. They play surfer music and videos along the way. They are associated with Surf Shops and Surfing Schools and can arrange surfing lessons and board rentals. English is spoken by the staff.
You don't need to be a surfer to ride the bus, as tourists of all ages take the ride!
The bus picks up riders at hotels and street corners along Copacabana (Avenida Atlantica) and Ipanema Beach (Avenida Viera Souto) between 7:30-8am, 10:30-11am, 1:30pm - 2pm, and around 4pm. It returns from Prainha and heads back to Rio de Janeiro at 8:30am, 11:30am, 2:30pm, and 5:30pm. The cost is only R$ 10 each way!
It's best to call them the day before to confirm the bus is running and at which hotels it stops along Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. The schedules and pick up locations are subject to change. Call the driver on the morning of your trip and let him know on which corner you'll be waiting. Call the driver on the morning of your trip and let him know on which corner you'll be waiting. cellular #- 55 21 9733-5039 (driver - speaks English) or land line telephone #- 55 21 3546-1860 (no English)..
You can be dropped off anywhere along the ocean route. Just talk to the driver, when you exit the bus at one of the beaches, to confirm when he'll be passing by on the return trips throughout the day.
Insider's Tip - We recommend the following day trip: Catch the 2nd bus of the day between 10:30 - 11am, ride to the end of the line, and get off at Prainha. This pristine, smaller beach is surrounded by rocks and tropical green mountains, and offers some of the best surfing in the state. Prainha has a couple of beach kiosks that serve snacks and drinks, and it has bathroom facilities (at the restaurant).
Hang out at the beach for a couple of hours, and then walk up to the cliff side outdoor "Bar and Restaurant Mirante da Prainha" for lunch. "Mirante" means view, and it is picture perfect. They specialize in seafood and serve "Peixe na Brasa" (Fish on the Grill). They also serve excellent Pestiscos (appetizers) including seafood filled Pastries (Pasteis). Of course they serve ice cold beer! After lunch, walk back down to the beach to swim or doze off, and then catch the Surf Bus at 5:30pm to head back to Rio. It's very safe at Prainha Beach, so bring your camera. What a perfect day!