By Leo Byrne, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The beaches of Rio are a huge draw to the Cidade Maravilhosa, and although not remote or even pristine, they do offer plenty of amenities. Beach chairs are for rent at R$4, sun umbrellas for R$5-R$7 depending on the time of year, and cold drinks, including beer or capirinhas can be brought to you by one any number of the beach barracas (translates to tents or huts).
These small stands dot the Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon beaches every ten meters or so and each tend to have their own personality. Choosing the right barraca goes hand-in-hand with finding a section of the beach that suits you, and following are some recommendations.
Barraca do Renato: Located near posto doze (twelve) in Leblon, this family friendly barraca is situated near a children’s play area complete with swings and slides. Generally less busy than Ipanema or Copacabana, posto twelve is where Rio’s elite come to soak up the sun, and don’t worry about cash as this is one of the few barracas that accepts credit cards.
Barraca Uruguay: Near posto nove (nine) in Ipanema, the Barraca Uruguay is one of the oldest on the beach and separates itself from its peers by having more staff members, tasty sandwiches made-to-order, and reasonably priced caipirinhas. “It’s one of the most famous and best here in Ipanema, it’s been here for more than thirty years,” Tiago Maya, who works near the beach told The Rio Times.
Barrack do Menor: Also near posto novo is Barrack do Menor which is owned by a mother with all her daughters working there. It is unusual to have a barraca owned and operated by a woman, and many touches of quality and attention shine through.
American Heather Silvi Frinell recently lived in Ipanema for years and recalls: “Hands down [Barrack do Menor] have the best drinks on the beach, some barracas buy cheap vodka and pour it into gallon soda bottles, not these ladies! They always use good vodka and cachaca [and] additionally, they hustle, [just] raise your hand and you’re guaranteed to have Marcella run over with a beer or cocktail.”
Barraca do Beto: Located near where Ipanema gives way into Arpoador, this side of the beach has the best waves and subsequently attracts a relaxed surfer crowd, as well as closer to the metro stop. Charging just R$4 for a chair, the Barraca do Beto is one of the cheapest around and the narrowness of the beach means that the friendly staff are never more than a few meters away.
“I like it down here at Arpoador, it’s a bit quieter and when I’m tired of the beach I can head up onto the nearby rocks, which is the best place to watch the sunset over the Dois Irmãos peaks,” Jay Gordon, an expatriate living Brazil told The Rio Times.
Barraca Maezinha: Sitting between postos cinco and seis (five and six) on the Copacabana beach, Meazinha is relatively cheap and has great views over the Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf) mountain. The Copacabana sea is usually calmer than that of the often wavy Ipanema and Leblon, making it an ideal location for a relaxing swim or a stand up paddle surfing lesson (which are offered nearby).