Cariocas have developed a very sophisticated cultura de praia with habits and codes worth taking note of if you want to blend in.
- Don’t wear a bathing suit from home; purchase one on location. Rio’s cutting-edge bikini and sunga (the male version of a bikini) styles are light-years ahead of the rest of the world, and prices are generally affordable.
- Do wear flip-flops (Havaianas are the coolest) to and from the beach and don’t wear shoes.
- Don’t take any valuables to the beach and don’t leave possessions unguarded. Take a beach bag instead of a purse and ask a respectable-looking neighbor to keep an eye on your stuff while you take a dip.
- Don’t bring a towel to the beach. Cangas are lighter, de rigueur, and are sold all over the beaches. For more comfort, rent a chair.
- Don’t schlep food or drinks to the beach. Rio’s beaches are well-serviced with food and drink vendors.
- Don’t go swimming if a red flag is flying; Rio’s beaches have strong currents in places. Only go in the water where locals are already swimming.
- Don’t get a sunburn. Not only will you suffer on your vacation, but the red lobster look will brand you a foolish gringo.
If you’re female:
- Do know that Cariocas are not shy about revealing a lot of flesh. However…
- Don’t take your top off. Topless sun“bathing is a no-no and Cariocas are very proud of their tan lines.
- Do cover up (lightly) with a lightweight top and microshorts or skirts when walking to/from the beach.
If you’re male:
- Don’t don a Speedo-style bathing suit. Stylish sungas are modeled on men’s full briefs.
- Do know that surfing shorts are for surfing or wearing over your bathing suit, not for lounging around on the sand or swimming.
- Do flaunt your bare chest to/from the beach, but otherwise wear a T-shirt.
Excerpted from the Fouth Edition of Moon Brazil.