If the sands of Rio's main urban beaches get too hot to handle, there will always be a little gem tucked between São Conrado and Barra to escape to. Far from easily accessed and completely erased at high tides, Joatinga beach is only accessible through a private condominium in the hills but the effort is well worth it; below lies a small cove of golden sand surrounded by steep cliffs that, during the week at least, is almost completely devoid of human activity. It is a different story on public holidays and steamy weekends, however, when an early arrival to stake your claim with a deck chair or two comes very highly recommended.
Getting there: A car or taxi is essential to reach Joatinga. From Zona Sul take the Estrada da Gávea and turn right in the middle of São Conrado onto Estrada do Joá. Continue uphill until you reach Rua Pascoal Segreto, turning left and carrying on until Rua Sargento Jose da Silva. Parking is limited, and the security will definitely not let you in to the Costa Brava club at the end of the road, but you can ask to have a look around if you are feeling adventurous.