The Urca beach in front of the Casino faces the bay and as such is not the best swimming spot. However, the Praia Vermelha (Red beach) on the other side of Sugar Loaf Mountain is nice as it faces the ocean instead of the bay and is a little more than 1km from the apartment. The best beaches in the city, in order are: 1- Prainha, 2- Praia de Pepê in Jardim Oceanico, 3- Arpoador, 4- Ipanema/Leblon, 5- Praia Vermelha, 6- Copacabana but there are many others. Actually the military beach here in Urca is really nice as well, with a good wave and without crowds but it is restricted. Glad you had a good time. I'll tell Dona Maria that you enjoyed her breakfasts.