With the Rio 2016 Olympics well underway, we thought we’d take a look at Brazil’s other favourite national past time – ‘taking sun’. It might sound like we’re joking, but those guys take their bake pretty seriously. If you’re lucky enough to be heading south of the (American) border for the games, our New York correspondent, Jessica Burdon, spills the laws about the intricate etiquette around this South American art form. 

Image: Instagram @alinelima23

Here are the 8 basic principles to avoid embarrassment in Brazil:

1. What not to wear

Less is more. Women bear as much flesh as possible, especially your buttocks. Tangas, or ‘dental floss bikinis,’ have four small triangles of material, one squeezed between buttocks and two skimming nipples. Get yours from Gata Bakana.
Men bare it all with miniature shorts called sungas, only slightly more modest than Olympic speedos.
Clothes beyond that are optional, but Havaianas are essential for men and women to make it across burning bitchumen and the scolding sand.


2. Accessorize

Fill your car with beach chairs, mats, an umbrella, suntan oil, and anything else you can avoid paying for on the beach. But leave your towels and food at home, if you don’t want to reveal yourself as a rookie.


3. Parking your car and yourself

As you try to squeeze into a parking spot close to the beach, a zealous flanelinha, usually a barefoot boy, will direct you into the spot and cover your windshield in cardboard to protect the steering wheel from the sun (whether you want his help or not). Be sure to give him some change to ‘look after your car.’

Once you behold the glory of the beach, select the sandy social scene for you. In Rio for instance, Ipanema Beach has Posto 9  for socializing and Posto 12 for relaxing, and others for families, surfers, and the LBGT community.

Make sure you’re close to the tents serving coconut water and beer.


4. How to undress:

Women, remove your clothes seductively, slathering your skin with suntan oil (in slow motion for maximum effect). But don’t give into the temptation to remove your bikini top for an even tan. Exposed nipples will attract either the police or ample scandal from the locals.

Men, openly ogle the women while they undress.


5. How to absorb the rays

Women should recline on your sarong, or kanga, as if posing for a photo shoot. And don’t adjust your bikini, your tan-lines must be pornographically defined.

Men should stand unless joining in a game of volley-ball, playing with soccer balls near the surf, or assisting a female with her oil-rubbing.


6. What to eat

Vendors traipse the sand selling everything from matte tea, fried cheese cooked on portable barbecues, açai, beer, sandwiches and Biscotto Globos, to Guarana energy drinks and bikini tops. Just be careful with prawns and spicy food, and don’t make eye contact with a vendor unless you mean business.


7. Making friends

Always go to the same place on the sand. You’ll get flirtatious and friendly with the locals. Then those running the tents and dishing out the beer will keep a tally of your drinks and you won’t have to pay until the end of the day, or sometimes weeks later.


8. When to leave

Stay as long as possible. When the last rays of sun slip over the horizon, just move to the mozaic pavement and find a kiosk to buy more beer and watch futebol until your 11pm dinner.


Story first published on Breaking Brazil by Jessica Burdon. 

Comment (0)

  1. July 2, 2014

    Oh I wish I was in Brazil right now!!

  2. July 2, 2014

    Love this!! Some great advice here!

  3. July 2, 2014

    Great story – would love to be in Brazil right now too!