Rio’s beach culture, posto by posto
Postos 8 and 9: Good for rainbow flags and a daytime party vibe
Located on Ipanema beach, postos 8 and 9 are two of Rio’s busiest and most eclectic stretches, attracting a diverse, younger crowd. Though all of Rio’s beaches are gay-friendly, rainbow flags mark out a popular section between the two postos near Rua Farme de Amoedo. Posto 9 is also close to where the famous bossa nova song The Girl from Ipanema was written, so this is the place to strut your stuff and pretend to be “the tall and tan and young and lovely girl” – or the guy watching her. Tom Jobin and Vinicius de Moraes penned the song at the bar and restaurant Garota de Ipanema a few blocks away.
Postos 10, 11 and 12: Good for billionaires and celebrities
Cariocas say that Ipanema (posto 10) is for millionaires and that Leblon beach (posto 11) is for billionaires, so you might see some famous faces including footballers and soap opera stars who live in fancy mansions nearby sunning on the sand. Leblon is one of the most exclusive and expensive areas of Rio and also has a busy late night bar and restaurant scene, backdropped by the impressive Dois Irmãos peaks.
Unfortunately, the water at these postos is not great for swimming as it polluted by two bordering canals that drain into the sea. Posto 12 has Baixo Bebe, a sandy play area for children with beach toys, slides and baby changing facilities.
Sun like a local
Brazilians have a reputation for being beautiful, but do not let that intimidate you. They are also very tolerant, friendly and come in every shape and size. You can wear what you want at the beach, but Brazilians tend to leave their baggy bottoms at home and either don tiny string bikinis or the tight trunks that you have never dared to wear. Note that for the ladies, going topless is a no no.
Cariocas will happily travel to and from the beach and parade down the wavy, black-and-white-mosaic boardwalk in just their beachwear and Havaiana flip flops. Forget your towel and get yourself a kanga (sarong) to sit on or rent one of the many beach chairs.
For most locals, the beach is not just about sunbathing, and you will not see many people reading. Cariocas come to pose, hang out with friends and get active, whether it is a strenuous game of beach volleyball or a gentle stroll along the boardwalk. When swimming, watch out for the red warning flags or ask a lifeguard as the waves can be harsh. It is the norm to ask your neighbour to watch your belongings (beach thefts are less common then they used to be, but it is still not wise to leave your things unattended). Groups of cariocas often sit close to each other so do not be overly concerned if someone parks up next to you on the beach.
When you are feeling peckish, hold out for one of the many beach vendors selling the popular sweet or savoury beach snack of globo (air-puffed doughnuts made from manioc flour) and matte leao, an iced tea drink poured straight from a keg on the seller’s back. And do not leave the beach without sipping fresh coconut juice from one of the agua de coco stands.