Our current time zone: GMT +8 (We're home in Singapore!)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Best Beach In The World

Well okay, we don't know for sure if there are any better beaches out there, but for us, Rio's sun, sand, sea and surf add up to top our list of best beaches visited on this trip.

I used to think that "a beach is a beach is a beach" and that I would never pay thousands of dollars just to travel halfway across to the world just to sit on a beach. Near home, the islands of Phuket, Krabi, Borneo and Bali served as great beach getaways - hop onto a low cost carrier and in a couple of hours, you're there. The furthest we have traveled in search of a sandy paradise were to Sri Lanka, the Maldives and South India.

On this trip, while we spent many blissful hours on beaches in the USA, ran our fingers through pink sands in the Bahamas and played in Puerto Rico's wild waves, none of these enthralled us as much as Rio's beautiful beaches.

For the cariocas (natives of Rio), the phrase "life's a beach" rings true. The people live for the beach. They practically live on the beach, even on a weekday, but especially on the weekends. Unlike some of us who treat the beach as an escape from our daily lives, the Brazilians come here to have fun and interact with one another. Even if you're laying on a solitary khanga (sarong) and just taking in the scene, you are here for the people. Life begets life. And that is exactly what makes Rio's beaches so attractive.

While there are many stretches of soft sands lining the coast of Rio de Janeiro that are worthy of a visit, none can be more notable than the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, the latter made even more famous in the Grammy Award-winning "Girl of Ipanema" song from the 1960s.

On a blissfully sunny day, we walked down to Lagoa Rodrigo and rented a couple of bikes for the day. While the lake was a lovely destination in it's own right, especially with tanned, toned, bikini-ed women walking and jogging around the track, we really wanted to explore the coastline and decided to cycle along Ipanema beach instead. Our first visit to the beach got us hooked! We found ourselves wanting quickly finish off our city tours so that we could spend the rest of our time in Rio just laying on the beach.

And since everybody back home has been asking for more pictures of the beach - I'm going to shuddup and just post lots of pix for your viewing pleasure.

Me on my little foldable bike, peddling languidly around the lake

Khangas are a must on the beach. Ours were kindly provided by Rio Dolphin Inn for free.

Copacabana and Ipanema's iconic black and white mosaic sidewalks. Nice and wide and great of strolling.

Walking around in swimwear in the heart of the city is the norm here

A digital screen advises beach-goers on the recommended level of sun protection to put on, depending on their skin colour

Ipanema beach on a weekday

Copacabana beach on a weekend. We wormed through the crowds to find a spot. Here is the view to our left - beach umbrellas dotting the entire stretch towards Sugarloaf Mountain.

And here's looking towards our right. Beach umbies all the way to Arpoador - the meeting point between Copacabana and Ipanema.

There's lots to do on the beach. We loved cooling off in the water.

Dan doing body combat with the huge waves

I preferred just jumping around in the little waves

The locals here don't just sit pretty on the beach - most of them treat it as a sports complex! There are always people surfing, body-boarding, kicking a ball around, tossing frisbees, etc. And don't forget beach volleyball - the Brazilians are infamously good at it.

Kick off your Havianas and pick up a ball!

Hosing down the pitch to cool it down before a game

Hunks playing beach volleyball. Nuff said.

Fresco ball is also popular here. Basically comprises hitting a bouncy ball using paddles


Cooling off after all that exercise is always really nice under the freshwater showers

People-watching is our favourite activity. What makes Rio's beaches so incredibly sexy is not just the bounty of beautiful bodies soaking up the pure sunshine. Everybody is so comfortable in their own skin (or whatever tiny bits of cloth they're wearing), no matter what their shape or size. From what we've seen, cariocas seem quite fanatical about fitness. They can be found exercising outdoors at any time of the day (even at high noon) or pounding on treadmills in the gym till midnight. But the beautiful bodies aren't the ones with unnecessarily skinny frames (for girls) or overly-muscled torsos (for guys) - what catches your eye most often are average-sized bodies that simply radiate health, life and energy.

Here, you don't see girls hiding behind t-shirts and shorts, or cocooned in sarongs. Everything is on full display - and it is this self confidence and unabashed flaunting that make the people here so attractive.

Some people look really really good from the front...

Some from the back. But bodies of all shapes and sizes are welcome at the beach.

The must-have for women: a Brazilian tanga

Of course, some butts look better in a tanga than others.

Hers: tanga. His: trunks (but not tiny tiny Speedos - they are a no no!)

Love is always in the air....

Be it in the water...

Or on land.

One of the best things about a beach in Rio, is that you can shop right on it!

Khangas for sale

Beach accessories

Most of the time, you don't even have to move from your comfortable spot. The shopping comes to you.

An innovative way to sell bikinis and shade yourself from the sun at the same time

These colourful balls are quite irresistible. Just perfect for tossing around in the waves.

Guys grilling shrimp right on the beach and hauling their mobile stoves on their backs thereafter to sell their wares

Best drink on earth - pure coconut water, always cool no matter how hot the coconuts get from the sun...

Mmmmm... refreshing!

No spoons provided here. The vendor chops a sliver of husk for you to use as a spoon.

After all that, there's nothing left to do except watch a marvelous sunset in The Marvelous City.

Gazing down Ipanema

Running in for the last dip before nightfall

Surfers riding on golden waves

Just as charming at night

Best way to end off a marvelous day - a big cold cup of ice-blended acai (a tasty Amazonian palm fruit with a host of health benefits)!

My favourite Brazilian snack - the fruit I mean

While Copacabana and Ipanema can't lay claim to pure white sands or crystal-clear waters, their beauty lies in the fact that the beaches are accessible to any carioca - regardless of race or social status, which are the two main factors that create The Great Divide within Rio's local population. Dark-skinned locals ply the sands with goods for sale, which are readily bought up by their fairer counterparts lounging in the sun (and ironically trying to get darker), thus providing the former with work and income. Poor favela kids play in the waves alongside privileged children decked in the latest branded kiddy swimwear. They are lucky to be able to find joy at the beach. I imagine that simply being able to run on the sand and gaze across the seemingly-endless ocean would make a whole lot of difference to kids living in landlocked city slums, encased in miles of traffic and concrete. White, mixed or black; rich or poor, they are all here to share the warm sands and swim in the same sea.

Therein lies the true beauty of Rio's beaches.

And I'm really glad I traveled halfway around the world for this one.


Tracy Su said...

Very nice post. Cool photos and proves that anyone can look good naked (or almost naked)! ;)

Erm, maybe it should be *almost* anyone. Hehehe pasty fatties need not apply!

Yi Lin said...

Thanks! I just added in a couple of lines about why everyone looks good - it's the self confidence. Meant to do that earlier at 3.30am today but was rushing to leave for our flight. The Brazilians are truly sun-worshippers - so there are no pasty ppl on the beach! Only pasty angmoh tourists :P Until they turn a painful shade of lobster-red, that is.

Dave and Deb said...

I love that you put Krabi, Borneo etc. on your "beach is a beach" list. Coming from Canada, our favorite beaches in the world are in Thailand and other parts of South East Asia. It is funny how that works isn't it?:) Looks like Rio is amazing and that you are having a blast!

Yi Lin said...

Yes! We feel really blessed to be living in SEA with so many beautiful nature spots just a few hours from home, and that we can go diving every other weekend if we wanted to. But there´s always the temptation to explore faraway places like the Caribbean and the Americas. Well you only live once!

The Philippines! How could I have left that out? I´ve put Boracay and Palawan on my mental list of MORE places to visit now! :)

Forever Living

Forever Living
Read about the products, then contact our wellness sponsor!
Related Posts with Thumbnails