Dos and Don’ts when Visiting Rio de Janeiro Beaches

December 21, 2012 by

Rio de Janeiro - Copacabana Beach

Rio de Janeiro – Copacabana Beach

Rio de Janeiro beaches are known around the world not only for warm sands and azure waters, but for a clearly defined beach culture that plays an important role in the life of many Cariocas.

Those who don’t adhere to the unwritten rules of this culture can be easily singled out as a visitor and an easy mark for petty theft.

Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro

Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro

Dos and Don’ts when Visiting Rio de Janeiro Beaches

Before you plan your visit to one of Rio De Janeiro’s many beaches, brush up on the unspoken “rules” of Rio’s beach culture.


  • Wear fashionable beachwear (swimming trunks or surf shorts for guys, and bikinis for girls).
  • Bring a beach bag or small backpack to carry your things
  • On the beach, girls sit on a kanga (sarong), and guys sit on a chair or the sand.
  • Buy food and beverages from beach vendors.


  • Going topless on the beach is strictly forbidden for girls. Getting arrested is not for a day at the beach.
  • Guys don’t wear football shorts.
  • Girls don’t wear a bathing suit.
  • Don’t carry your stuff to the beach in a plastic bag from the supermarket.
  • Don’t sit on a towel.
  • Don’t bring food or drink from sources outside the beach. Vendors walk the beach under the hot sun to make a living.

While some of these beach customs may seem insignificant to Westerners, the beach culture in Rio de Janeiro takes it all quite seriously.

Beach Vendor

Buy your food and drink from beach vendors.

Petty Theft and Scam Artists

Petty theft is a problem on Rio de Janeiro beaches, so along with fitting in with the beach culture, be careful what items you bring to the beach. Only bring the money you need for drinks and food, and don’t bring anything valuable, because chances are you’ll lose it.

Play Safe

Along with being careful with what you wear, what you bring, and even what you sit on when visiting Rio’s beaches, it is also important to stay aware of currents.

Many of the beaches have been renourished with large amounts of sand, which creates unusual and strong currents. Pay attention to posted signs, and always have a beach buddy so you can look after each other.

Photo credits: roger4336over_kind_manrevaz ardesher

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