Ipanema Beach

No discussion of tropical beaches in Brazil is complete without legendary Ipanema Beach in all its elegant and glamorous glory. While trend-setting Ipanema Brazil was the first in Rio de Janeiro to unveil topless bathing and introduce the teeny tiny tanga string bikini, these days it is actually a bit more "respectable" than its neighbor, Copacabana Beach, and is considered a good family beach. At the end of Ipanema, actually on Leblon Beach, is an entirely separate area called Baixo Baby with a diaper changing facility, fully equipped oversized baby playpen, and a playground for older children right on the beach.

Although Ipanema Beach had the famous bossa nova song (Girl from Ipanema) created in its honor, it's Copacabana that is better known for gorgeous Brazilian beach girls. And, while Copacabana may be considered the premiere Brazil beach volleyball venue, the sport really took off in Ipanema the 1980s with the first international competitions. So much for stereotypes.

Copacabana and Ipanema Beach are two of the most popular tropical beaches in Brazil as well as two of the most renowned urban beaches in the world. They are separated from each other by a peninsula with a rocky outcrop called Ponta do Arpoador. This is the geographical set up of many Brazil beaches, such as those strung along the Costa Verde between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Leblon Beach is an extension of Ipanema, and another of the best Rio de Janiero beaches.

Like Copacabana, Ipanema Brazil is more than a beach. It's an entire neighborhood of about 20 blocks in area and one of city's most elegant and chic attractions. Many Rio tours will include a drive-through of this neighborhood and past the famous beach. Elegant and chic means more expensive. Everything from drinks at the barracas (beach bars) to umbrellas and lounge cushions are more expensive than on neighboring beaches.

The Rio hotels, shops, boutiques, and galleries along the main Ipanema Brazil Avenida and internal blocks are pricey and fashionable. When you're wondering about things to do for nightlife, the exclusive clubs and restaurants on Ipanema's Rua Vinicius de Morales are some of the hottest spots in town. However, there's still much of the laid-back atmosphere that made Ipanema famous-show up for the Hippie Fair, which has been going strong every Sunday since the 1960s. And this is also where events and holidays are celebrated. Carnival in Brazil has venues in the Ipanema neighborhood, and Ipanema shares in the great Copacabana Beach New Year's celebration.

Both soccer and futevolei (volleyball using only feet) are played on the Ipanema Brazil beach. But it's Brazil beach volleyball that is the most passionate sport. Some matches include professional caliber players, but it's possible to find a more amateur game to join. There's even a Brazil beach volleyball school on the beach at Rua Garcia D'Avila. People watching is also a passionate sport on Ipanema Beach, and you'll catch some your best Brazil images on your camera, simply sitting in one spot and clicking away at the passers by. Whatever you do on the beach, the number one health and safety tip is watch out for your skin. The tropical sun can be very deceptive, and on Ipanema Beach a sunburn is definitely unfashionable.

If you're making a list of the best tropical beaches in Brazil then Ipanema should be on it. It's just about the most happening spot in Rio de Janeiro-both during the day and after dark.

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