Ipanema and Leblon is essentially one long and captivating beach divided by the narrow Jardim de Alah canal, which separates both neighborhoods and links the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas to the ocean. Straighter and narrower than Copacabana’s wide crescent, the beach is no less scenic—Ipanema begins at the Pedra do Arpoador, a dramatic rock jutting into the sea, and Leblon ends at the twin-headed Morro de Dois Irmãos, a fantastically shaped mountain that really does poetically conjure up the heads of “Two Brothers.”
During the week, the beaches are fairly tranquil, but when the weekend rolls around the sand is a sea of bronzed, bikinied bodies, engaging in activities as varied as playing futevolei and smoking illicit joints. On Sundays, the main oceanfront drags of Avenida Viera Souto (Ipanema) and Avenida Delfim Moreira (Leblon) are closed to traffic, and the whole area becomes a massive outdoor recreational scene where, between sips of água de coco and ice-cold beer, you can inspect the latest styles in flip-flops and beachwear.
Like Copa, Ipanema and Leblon are divided into tribal territories. With its big waves, Praia do Arpoador (the edge of Ipanema closest to Copa) is a surfers’ mecca. The area around Posto 8 (off Rua Farme de Amoedo) is a magnet for gay men to show off their sungas, while Posto 9 (the area off of Rua Vinícius de Morais) has long been the territory of artists and intellectuals who would rather flaunt their leftist viewpoints. Posto 10 is pretty much a family affair, and the end of Leblon is where young couples congregate with their tots on account of the playground and diaper-changing facilities.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition