Cariocas have developed a very sophisticated cultura de praia with habits and codes worth taking note of if you want to blend in.

A beautiful sandy beach on curving coastline with visitors scattered amongst colorful umbrellas.

Praia Mole at Florianopolis. Photo © Mike Vondran, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

  • 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.

Learn the do's and don'ts of Brazil's beach culture so you can blend in with the locals

Excerpted from the Fouth Edition of Moon Brazil.