A Beginner’s Guide to Beach Culture in Rio de Janeiro


If you’re planning to visit Rio for the 2016 Summer Games, you need to know this: the people of Rio are obsessed with their beautiful beaches, and for good reason. There’s more than 40km of coastline in the city, and the beaches span from the wildly popular Ipanema (yes, as immortalized in the song The Girl from Ipanema), to secluded coves that you’ll need to know how to find because they are hidden away. There’s a huge beach culture in Rio de Janeiro, and the locals converge there to relax, play, and party. No trip to this city could possibly be complete without walking on the white sands and dipping your toes in the turquoise waters, or indulging in many of the other activities you’ll find along the way.

The main beaches in Rio run along a distance of just over 8km, and are divided up by 12 lifeguard stations (known as postos) that are referred to by number by locals. Cariocas often use the postos to describe where things are relative to the beaches. Each posto offers a different kind of beach experience. Posto 10 on Ipanema, for example, is where you go to play sports, and you’ll find volleyball nets, ongoing soccer games, and plenty of people playing frescoball (a Brazilian game played with wooden bats and rubber balls). Postos 2 – 6 are situated on Copacabana Beach, and will be where the beach volleyball matches are played for the Summer Games. Posto 12 in Leblon is a great family beach, complete with a playground for little kids.

All the beaches in Rio are pretty spectacular. Spending time on them is such a pleasure, and whether you’re there for the day, or to catch a sunrise or sunset over the ocean you’ll certainly have a moment of sheer bliss on those sands.

Don’t be intimidated by the common fallacy that everyone on the beaches of Rio looks like a supermodel and has been nipped and tucked into physical perfection – this isn’t true. Beach culture in Rio is welcoming to all shapes and sizes, and you’ll see all kinds of bodies on the beach. Don’t expect to see many board shorts or cover-ups though – the locals prefer tight trunks and string bikinis, which makes for some interesting people watching!

Vendors walk along the beaches selling everything from brightly printed sarongs and bikinis to fresh coconut water to mate (a popular Brazilian tea, which is absolutely delicious especially when mixed with lemonade) to sweet pastries and ice cream. You won’t even have to take a seat with you to the beach, as there are vendors there that will rent you one, and an umbrella. Throughout the Summer Games you can guarantee that the number of vendors walking along the beach will rise dramatically, and there’s bound to be lots of themed goods available to buy too.

If you want to swim in the ocean at the beaches in Rio, pay attention to where the locals are swimming and stay in sight of lifeguards. There can be a strong undertow and the waves can get pretty crazy. If it is the surf that interests you, then there are some excellent surf schools that Roadtrips works with, and we also set guests up with paddle-boarding experiences when in Rio for the World Cup.

In case we haven’t convinced you just how spectacular Rio’s beaches are, take a look at this amazing video provided by one of our local hosts: www.vimeo.com/132754225

Book Your Trip to the Summer Games

Call a Sports Travel Specialist at 1-800-465-1765 or