After scaling Sugarloaf and the Selarón Steps, your hard-working legs deserve a break. Spend your off-hours like a local at one of Rio’s picturesque beaches.
What to do — and avoid
Beaches aren’t just a getaway in Rio — beach culture is woven into everyday life. While the pace is leisurely, there are certain etiquettes you should follow.
Do check the water conditions – water pollution levels vary according to beach and weather. The local newspaper Globo publishes a daily report of beaches that are closed due to pollution.
Do use the beach entrance – many hotels have a separate entrance for beachgoers, and some even offer beach chairs or umbrellas! Look for an Entrada de Banhistas sign.
Don’t bring a towel – pack or purchase a kanga (Brazilian sarong). The light fabric is easier to pack, dries quickly and doubles as a cover-up.
Don’t bring your wallet – besides the possibility pickpocketing, beach vendors typically don’t change large bills or accept credit cards. Bring a few small denomination bills and R$1 coins instead.
Don’t bring jewelry or electronics – you won’t need your watch, since there time and temperature signs all over the beach. If you must bring a cell phone or camera, keep it close to you at all times, preferably in a zippered pocket.
Swimsuit – typically, women wear barely-there bikinis and men wear sungas (think Speedo) or long surf shorts. Beachgoers in Rio pay attention to fashion – check out the boutiques to familiarize yourself with the local styles.
Havianas – everyone has a pair (or several) of these eponymous flip-flops to wear to the beach and back. While inexpensive (around R$15), you’ll save a few reais buying yours in a department store instead of the boardwalk.
Sunscreen – apply the highest SPF you can stand in your hotel room before leaving for the beach.
Sarong or kanga – as mentioned above, this is your beach towel as long as you’re in Brazil!
Overhead protection – a beach umbrella or ballcap are both great ways to keep the sun at bay.
Sunglasses – an inexpensive pair in case they get lost.