By Michela DellaMonica, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL — Forget cozying up by the fire or watching the snow fall for the holiday season, here in Rio residents and travelers alike are more likely to spend time at some of the most attractive and renowned beaches in the world. For those passing though, there are few tips to keep in mind for a day at the beach.
Most locals need no more than a kanga (a sarong, or a cross between a thin cloth towel or sheet) and some sun block or oil to lather up for a nice tan. For those that prefer a beach umbrella and chair, there are barracas (vendor tents) stationed every five to ten meters renting cadeiras (beach chairs) and guardas sol (umbrellas).
Chairs usually range from R$3 – R$5 and umbrellas from R$5-R$7, though some opportunists may try to charge tourists more. Therefore, it is perfectly acceptable to haggle, and if necessary, seek a different vendor, and make sure to set the price before sitting down.
It is important to keep hydrated at the beach. Many vendors stroll up and down the beach selling water and fresh agua de coco (coconut water) for about R$5, as well as snacks like melted cheese on a stick with oregano and spices, salgados and empadas (little fried doughy snacks), the famous Globo Biscoitos (cookies) and refreshing frozen fruit pops.
In case one arrives ill-prepared for the beach, vendors also sell hats, bikinis, kangas and everything in between. When the sun begins to set, the kiosks that line to beaches get busy as sunbathers move off the beach in favor of a refreshing caipirinha or beer, usually in the range of R$8 – R$10.
Defined by postos (posts), which mark distance and also identify certain crowds that frequent the beach, Ipanema and Leblon beaches are the most popular. Just before Ipanema is Arpoador, ideal to catch surfers in action and catch the sunset on the Pedra do Arpoador (Arpoador Rock).
Posto 8 is the stretch nearest to the Praça General Osório metro stop in Ipanema (recently re-opened), and draws the most beach-goers on their way in from the outer neighborhoods, creating a more eclectic crowd.
Posto 9 is popular amongst the young and trendy and those who like to show off their beach bodies. The area between Posto 9 and Posto 8 is known as the gay and lesbian beach, clearly marked by rainbow flags on the barracas.
Posto 10 is where the beach athletes meet, due to the multitude of volleyball nets and greater sand space for football (soccer). The area is also frequented more by the younger highschoolers it seems and Posto 11 and 12 in Leblon are especially popular with affluent mothers and their families.
The infamous Copacabana beach and tranquil neighborhood of Leme aren’t quite as defined as the above. Tourists staying at the waterfront hotels in Copacabana like to enjoy the beach adjacent to the hotel lobby. At Morro do Leme, a large mountain lined with a fisherman’s walk and populated by local fishermen, provides the best view of Copacabana beach.
Praia do Flamengo (Flamengo Beach) and Praia do Botafogo (Botafogo Beach) aren’t as frequented by sun bathers as the water is not clean enough. Yet Aterro do Flamengo is home to football fields and a running track by the beach, ideal for sports enthusiasts. For a small private-like beach atmosphere, Praia da Urca is a nice option for a family with small children. The ocean isn’t so rough and makes for a safe environment for toddlers to play.