BEST SWELL DIRECTION:
SSW to SSE, but it has a very open swell window.
Low to medium
Barra da Tijuca -- known to locals simply as "Barra" and pronounced like "Baja" or "ba-ha" -- is Rio's version of Huntington Beach. In Rio terms it's the suburbs as opposed to the more city-type scene of Copacabana/Ipanema/Leblon. It is a 10-mile-long stretch of sand lined by housing tracts and sky-rise apartment blocks, with bike paths and jogging tracks and high-school kids. It is also Rio's most consistent surf area, with miles of shifting peaks in crystal-clear water.
For most of the way the road runs right along the beach, and it's easy enough to drive along and pick a peak as you go. A few main areas seem to be consistently better than the rest of the beach -- notably the Pier and the area in front of the tall apartment block Barramares. It is in this area that the annual world tour contest is usually held, due to its consistency. When Ipanema is flat you can still be surfing fun waves in beautiful water with the half-hour drive to Barra, and on school days you can have it nearly empty. Parking is easy all along the way.