With over 50 kilometers of oceanfront in Rio de Janeiro, the beaches are very active places. People from all over the world gather to play, mingle and have fun. While many first think of Copacabana Beach due to the 1978 song by Barry Manilow, Ipanema Beach is where the summer happens in Rio. Ipanema Beach is everything and more. News made in Ipanema makes headlines in newspapers across Brazil. A trend-setter, Ipanema Beach has remained the central focus of Rio’s social scene ever since the first two piece swimsuit debuted here in 1948. With magnificent views of Sugarloaf Mountain and the Copacabana Fort, Ipanema Beach is a famous place to people watch and see Brazilian families in action.
The thing I found most interesting during my own visit to Ipanema Beach was watching the foot volleyball games. There are literally hundreds of poles stuck in the beach sand to accommodate all of the volleyball nets. Brazil has a strong tradition in the sport of volleyball, with world championship teams in both indoor and beach volleyball. The strength of Brazilian volleyball was built around the culture associated with people playing beach volleyball all day. Beach futebol (soccer) is also very popular but finding a large space when the beach is crowded can often be a problem. Combine these two popular sports and you get foot volleyball, or futevolei, which is an exciting variation on the two sports that is more suitable to play on a busy beach. Played on a beach volleyball court, regular volleyball rules apply, with one important twist: no hands! You have to count on your head, chest, feet, legs, and imagination. To serve, you make a little mound of sand, place the ball on it, and kick it. I was absolutely amazed at the skills of the locals. While I chose to just watch, you can join a match by simply asking.
If you are a good at surfing, boogie boarding or skim boarding, then Ipanema Beach is a good place to be. However, if you are a novice, it’s best to stay away as the water can be quite rough. Avenida Atlantica, where you’ll see locals pushing their kids along in strollers and walking their dogs, is perfect for a bike ride, jog, or casual stroll along the beach. The beach bars offer Chopps Brahma beer and coconut water which quenches your thirst when the weather gets hot. Beach life also includes locals selling handmade crafts, towels, shirts and the lot. On weekends, the streets outside Ipanema are closed to vehicles and turn into one giant playground. There are jugglers, magicians, fire eaters, and various tricksters and merchants.
For more information about Ipanema Beach or if you’re planning a trip to Brazil, please contact BrilliantTrips.