Prainha: off the beaten sand, but will Rio 2016 ruin it?

The anouncement by Rio mayor Eduardo Paes that Prainha could be the site of a new hotel development fot the 2016 Olympics has raised concerns over the environmental protection of one of the city’s most beautiful and unknown beaches. While the battle lines are still being drawn, seize the opportunity to check out this authentic surfer’s paradise and celeb-watch prime spot – not only local VIPs, by the way, as cinema couple Vincent Cassel and Monica Belucci have been clocked on Prainha’s sands.

The road alone will take your breath away. Accessible by car (or by bike, for the fitter among you), it snakes up a hillside with a  jaw-dropping view: on one side lies emerald forest, while on the other, the hill falls away into the shimmering blue waters of the Atlantic. Prainha is surrounded by huge hills, giving you a sense of coziness not found on the more exposed beaches of Rio.

If it weren’t for the differences in the styles and sizes of the bikinis, you might have the impression you had been transported back to the Rio of the 40s. The only shack on the beach serves sandwiches, açai (a delicious fruit smoothie made from an Amazonian berry) and beer, but doesn’t have a great variety of food on offer; if you are going to spend the day on the beach, make sure you bring something to eat. It is here that the old surfing brigade and the new generation of naturists mingle.

During the week, the beach is delightfully quiet, while at the weekend, you are more likely to stumble across one of the many regional surf championships. There are even a few children’s options; on the far right of the 700 metre beach there is a natural rock pool perfect for playing in the whole day, as the hillside kindly shades the area for most of the afternoon. Prainha, along with Praia da Macumba, also a great surfing option, and Grumari, with its thatched roof shack and a wall covered in primitive art, form the golden triangle for the free spirits of Rio.

Make sure to stop to take photos of the glorious scenery when making your way between the three.

Photo by: Caio Pinheiro Neto

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