Guide to Brazil’s Beach Culture

Dream of laying on a beautiful beach? There aren’t many countries where beach culture is more important than Brazil. Many Brazilians spend every day on the beach and spend their holidays traveling to visit other beaches in the country. It’s important to know what to expect at the beach to ensure a safe time and to avoid being seen as a tourist.

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What to wear?

This is the most important part of beach culture! Brazilians always arrive to the beach with some sort of cover-up on, whether its a dress or shorts.Avoid walking to the beach only in your swim suit as it is not really acceptable to travel only in a swim suit. Next, always wear a swimsuit once at the beach. Women wear very small bikinis, the smaller the better. Media often shows beautiful young Brazilian women wearing next to nothing, but every woman, no matter what size or age wears very small bikinis. There is no shame in wearing next to nothing even when with your family. Men wear sungas (similar to speedos) that resemble very short shorts. It is fairly uncommon to see a man wearing longer swim trunks, unless they are an American or surfing. There are only a few beaches in Brazil that allow nudism, so keep in mind that is illegal to be nude on most of Brazil’s beaches.

Two other things to bring are sunglasses and sandals, the most common in Brazil are havaianas and one pair will last you a lifetime.

What to bring?

Packing chairs and an umbrella are essential to an enjoyable day at the beach. It is also common to lay on thin cloth, similar to a sarong or wrap. Beach towels are relatively rare and usually owned my foreigners. If you plan on being at the beach all day, make sure to bring an umbrella as the sun gets very hot. I’d also recommend sunglasses and if you have lighter skin, sunscreen.

If you are traveling and didn’t have room to pack a full umbrella, then beach chairs and umbrellas can be rented in most major cities. This saves you the hassle of having to transport chairs, and often times whoever rented you the chairs will look after your belongings should you go in the water.

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What to eat/drink?

Coolers are common if you want to pack your own beverages or food. Alcohol is allowed on beaches in Brazil so feel free to bring as much as you can. Beaches are also filled with vendors, selling fried cheese, chips, and coconut water. I’d personally recommend avoiding these as the vendors have been carrying food around in the hot sun for several days sometimes before you purchase it.  If there is a nearby snack shop, the food tends to be fresher. Often waiters will come by and ask if you want anything and bring any food over to you. The snack shops will also have colder drinks and ice so I recommend ordering caipirinhas here. No trip to a beach in Brazil is complete without a refreshing caipirinha! I also would recommend ordering a coconut water, served out of the coconut as a great way to stay hydrated!

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Sports

The most popular beach activity is volleyball! It can get very competitive so make sure you are up to the challenge before joining in. Brazilians also play a variation of volleyball using their feet. Less commonly, there are soccer matches on the beach. Surfing is popular in Brazil and depending on the beach, sometimes there are many surfers! In larger cities, there are hangliding and parasailing options which are very popular but can get pretty pricey.

Boardwalks

In larger cities, including Rio, beaches have very long boardwalks. Walking along it is a great way to enjoy and see more of a city. Many vendors line the boardwalk selling art, bikinis, sunglasses and more. Sometimes there are even little marketplaces along the boardwalk.  This can become overwhelming but it doesn’t usually last the entire length of the walk.

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Safety

Don’t bring too much cash to the beach and never bring any jewellery. In Rio, there are times when robbers will run through the beach and grab people’s belongings. If this happens, it is important to let them take what they want, as violence can result from resistance.

Be careful not to leave anything lying out, should you choose to go into the water as someone might come along and take it. Chair vendors will often overlook your belongings as it is bad for business if their customers get robbed. The walking beach vendors will approach you often, but just say no thank you or nao obrigado if you are not interested.

Some beaches can have strong currents, so look out for warning signs, and be prepared before going in the water.

 

 

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