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Ipanema Beach, Brazil

Ipanema is a neighborhood with a tradition of freedom and innovation. Ipanema Beach is where the summer happens in Rio. News in Ipanema make big headlines in all major newspapers in the country. A trend-setter, Ipanema Beach was the first in Brazil to see a pregnant woman proudly wearing a bikini. It was quintessential Ipanema icon, actress Leila Diniz.

Rose de Primo, a fashion model with a perfect body, perfect tan, perfect hair and a lot of attitude, set new grounds in the 70's with her tangas. They were tiny bikinis that soon became the object of desire of a whole nation (legend goes they were custom-made by her own mother).

Topless became quick fad in the 80's when a local soap opera showed that some women in Ipanema chose not to keep a tan line. The scene was played by actress Tonia Carreiro, who was a muse of Ipanema in the 50's herself. The fad didn't last long as Brazilians find a tan line a big plus.

Men all over the country started wearing horrible crochet g-strings after a famous personality (Fernando Gabeira) was seen in one at Posto 9. Legend goes it was a bikini bottom borrowed from his friend, reporter Leda Nagle. Somehow even Homer Simpson ended up in one of those in that episode when the Simpsons came to Rio... Oh, and the dental floss (or wedgy) bikini had its world debut here, too.

And there's all the funny stories. In the summer of 96, when our website first went online, Ipanema made headline news when police started arresting bathers who blew whistles! They were actually protesting against what they felt was unfair police persecution against the potheads that traditionally used to hang out at Posto 9.

There's quite a few characters you may run into. At Rua Garcia D'Ávila, for instance, there's Pelé - a successful beach entrepreneur. He started as an ordinary beach vendor, and today runs a beach volleyball school, rents beach chairs, umbrellas, the works! And there's that beach vendor that sells fresh pineapple slices. He loves to startle people in the sand by yelling on the top of his lungs "AAAAAbacaxi" (pineapple) when they least expect. Nobody complains, because he offers free samples to everyone.

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Ipanema Beach has several favorite spots. We have even prepared a map of the whole neighborhood to help with your orientation! Each block of the beach attracts a different crowd. Posto 9 , Garcia , Country , Teixeira , Farme Gay, and Cap Ferrat are all reference points used by locals to identify their turf. Tourists and first-timers tend to gather in front of Caesar Park Hotel.

Practice sports like beach volleyball , soccer and surf, find true romance , have a refreshing drink of coconut water , or just relax and soak up some rays. And bring along your sunglasses, so you can watch the good-looking Cariocas without giving yourself in!!

Ipanema is a public beach, with free access like all beaches in Brazil. If you're coming from a country where everything's regulated, expect to be spoiled. To start off, you don't even have get off your toosh to have your wish granted. Feeling hungry? Beach vendors offer ice-cream, cookies (don't miss the traditional Biscoitos Globo), corn-on-the-cob, melted cheese on a stick, shrimp on a stick, assorted homemade sandwiches, fresh-sliced pineapple... Thirsty? Mineral water, iced tea, diet and regular sodas, frozen fruit juice, chilled coconut milk, and yes, ice-cold beer, and delicious fresh-squeezed caipirinhas. You can rent your beach chairs and umbrellas. Need to accessorize? Hats, colorful beach throws, sunglasses, jewelry, even bikinis are for sale.

As there are a lot of misconceptions, here are some suggestions if you want to mingle. The first is that people do not walk around the city in their bikinis and Speedos, let alone in a thong! OK, it's a free world, you can do whatever you want, but the idea here is to let you in on how locals do it...

On the way to and back from the beach, Ipanema boys wear surfers' trunks. In the pocket there's just enough money for a soda or two, and maybe a bottle of sunscreen (they could always borrow from the girls, you know). Whenever they stop it's time to peel off those trunks, and stand in their Speedos. Brazilian girls and boys love a tan line, and you have to please the crowds. If you really want to belong, your Speedos should be as wide as regular CK briefs, at least 4 inches or so. Buy some at the local shops, like Blue Man. You may ask a group of girls to watch your shorts or backpack while you go for a swim, if you're looking for an ice-breaker.

Now three things you won't do if you're beach-smart. The first one is taking more sun that you're able to. Condition your skin by going to a tanning salon, wear a potent sunscreen, keep track of how long you stay at the beach, rent a beach umbrella, wear a sun hat. The red lobster look is not attractive, and it could actually spoil your vacation. The second is that taking off your watch to avoid a tan line, and leaving it laying on the sand together with your money while you doze off is a very stupid thing to do. The least that could happen is their accidentally being buried in the sand. The third is that wearing long sleeves, street clothes and dress shoes at the beach make you look really funny. Now you're ready to see all the images!

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