What to do Rio de Janeiro - Beaches
There are not many cities in the world of Rio’s size – if any – that have so many fine beaches within its boundaries. Let alone the beautiful setting, with green mountains and rocky outcrops in the back. The
beaches of Rio de Janeiroplay an important part in the social life of many Cariocas (Rio dwellers). More than anywhere else, in Rio de Janeiro you do not go to the beach for swimming and sunbathing, but much more for people watching, playing sports, socializing and flirting.
The three most important beaches of Rio de Janeiro are described in detail: Copacabana/ Leme, Ipanema/ Leblon and Barra da Tijuca.
Within the city limits of Rio de Janeiro there are other beaches as well, like cute Praia Vermelha, which you will see from the cable cart to the Sugar Loaf.
Botafogo and Flamengo also have beaches, but the water here is too polluted for swimming. Beyond Barra da Tijuca beach there are some fine beaches for surfing.
Furthermore, the coast at both the east and west side of Rio de Janeiro is littered by more great beaches.
Finally, there are some unwritten rules in the Rio beach culture. The most important one for the ladies: Wear as little as you like, but never go topless. Believe it or not, in sensual, physique minded Rio de Janeiro (and the rest of Brasil) this is highly offensive.
The horseshoe shaped
Copacabana beachis certainly one of the most famous stretches of sand on the planet! The long beach – 4.5 km/ 2.7 miles – is much more than just a place to while away some lazy hours in the sand; Copacabana beach is the most important spot to meet each other in Rio de Janeiro. In summertime, it is not unheard of if there are a quarter of a million visitors at the Copacabana beach!
Copacabana beach early in the morning
|At the side of the boulevard, with the famous pattern designed by Roberto Burle Marx, you will come across plenty of kiosks where you can buy caipirinhas and other refreshments.
Along Copacabana beach, especially around the Rua Santa Clara area, there are many designated playing-fields for volleyball and soccer. If lucky, you can watch here the next Romário, Ronaldo or Sandra Pires...
Copacabana beach is split up in 6 sections, each marked by a beach station (Posto). From here, lifeguards and police keep watch. At first glance the foreign tourist might not notice, but every ‘sector’ attracts its own crowd. For instance, sector 1 (Leme area) allures people from the nearby favela (shanty town). Roughly between Posto 1 and 2, Copacabana beach has a distinct daytime gay scene.
Between Posto 3 and 4 mainly families and tourists settle for the day. Around Posto 5, Copacabana beach is more or less a ‘pickup’ area (style: tattooed muscles for the lads and mini bikinis for the lasses). Finally, Posto 6 near the Copacabana fortress, is fishermen’s territory. At night they sail out to bring in a fresh catch in the morning.
famous Rio de Janeiro beachis Ipanema/ Leblon. With 3.8 km/ 2.4 miles, Ipanema beach is shorter than Copacabana beach. About 2/3 is considered Ipanema and 1/3 Leblon.
The beaches are separated by a narrow canal, connecting Lake Rodrigo de Freitas to the Atlantic Ocean. The weekends are particularly crowded, especially
Ipanema/ Leblon beach, Rio de Janeiro
The sand and sea are cleaner at Ipanema/ Leblon beach than at Copacabana beach. For both beaches applies: be careful in the water, because a strong undertow might occur; only go in the water where the locals do.
Like the suburbs themselves, in general Ipanema beach is more sophisticated than Copacabana beach. Hip people and people who think hip of themselves, prefer Ipanema over Copacabana. Leblon beach is more family orientated. At Ipanema and Leblon beaches you also find the postos, which numbering starts where it ended at Copacabana beach: Posto 7, 8, 9 and 10 are to be found at Ipanema beach. Finally, Posto 11 and 12 are at Leblon beach.
Between Posto 8 and 9 of Ipanema beach, is the largest gay section of all Rio de Janeiro beaches (adorned by a rainbow flag), also called 'Crystal Palace'. Posto 9 onwards to 10 is popular with the local youngsters and therefore called ‘Stereo beach’, including often open air concerts and beach parties. Around Post 10 are Ipanema’s most playing-fields for volleyball and foot volley. The section between Posto 11 and 12 at Leblon beach is popular with young families.
At the east side around Posto 7 (i.e. the ‘Copacabana side’) is the best surf area of Ipanema, called Arpoador. Surfing here is not for the fainthearted though, because of the rough waves and the proximity of the rocks (and the occasional fighting for waves). Posto 7 is also a distinct area for favela crowd. The west side, at the end of Leblon beach, is marked by remarkable ‘twin peaks’, called Morro Dois Irmãos (‘Two Brothers’).
Plenty of sand at Barra da Tijuca beach...
|At the western outskirts of Rio de Janeiro is the fastest growing suburb of the city: Barra da Tijuca. This area is about 20 km/ 12.5 miles from Ipanema.
The main attraction of Barra da Tijuca is the gorgeous, no less than 18 km/ 11 miles beach. Fairly unknown to foreign tourists, but very popular among Cariocas.
Barra da Tijuca beachis an urban beach, although fairly half of it is still backed by parkland.
The eastern side of Barra da Tijuca has the most facilities and is therefore the most crowded part (especially in the weekends). The farther you go west, the more deserted Barra da Tijuca beach gets. At the very end, which is called Receiro dos Bandeirantes, there are often good conditions for surfing.
More beaches in Brazil