Rio beach essentials checklist

Rio’s long, sweeping coastlines with scenic backdrops and a tropical climate make for an ideal beach day. Head there early in the morning to get a good spot on the beach and you’ll find yourself content to laze away the whole day sunbathing, people watching and perhaps enjoying a caipirinha or two. Pack right for the beach will make sure you can enjoy the day there without the need to leave early. After years of Rio living, here’s what we’ve learned to always take with us to the beach.

  • Beach bag. A loose, tote bag is a popular choice as not only are they practical to fling everything inside, they also look great to finish off that gorgeous beach-chic look that we all love. The downside to them (we’re sorry for the bad news!) is that they are an easy target for pick-pocketers. The wide opening is easy for nimble hands to slip in and take valuables or even to grab off the beach whilst you’re basking in Rio’s tropical sun. We recommend getting a safety bag and our personal favourite is the Travelon collection (we use them ourselves every day in Rio!). They are cut-proof, come with a lockable zip, and have an attachment so you can keep your bag tied to the beach umbrella to avoid anyone taking it whilst you’re there. The designs are gorgeous, come in so many different colours and styles, plus are great value for money.
  • Kunga. A kunga is a beach towel. If don’t have one before you come to Rio, then wait until you get here to buy one. The beach vendors sell them everywhere and you can pick one up at the beach. It’s cheap (about R$20 – R$50) and makes a great souvenir too. The colour and pattern options are endless – you’ll love them!
  • A good book. For a long day at the beach, a good book is often the best company. To dive a little deeper into Brazilian culture, we’d recommend these two great books from the diverse world of Brazilian literature. The first is Captains of the Sands by Jorge Amado. Arguably one of his greatest books, Captains of the Sands tells the story of a gang of kids aged between 7 and 15 years old and their lives on the streets of Salvador. Amado weaves in significant cultural aspects into the novel such as capoeira and Candomble. The other great book is the source of inspiration for the award-winning film, City of God. City of God was originally a novel by Paulo Lins and offers an eye-opening and often jaw-dropping glimpse into the life of the City of God favela between the 1960s and 1990s.
  • Kaftan or loose vest top. Kaftan or a loose vest top and shorts combo are the perfect clothes option for going to the beach. It’s so hot that light, airy clothing is the most comfortable. A popular fashion trend for going to the beach is a bikini top teamed with high-waisted shorts (denim or a loose, floaty number), flip-flops and, of course, finished with a pair of shaded sunglasses.
  • Sun screen. This is an essential! We asked a local dermatologist what we should be wearing as we both have fair skin and she recommended at least factor 60 for your face and factor 30 for your body. Rio’s summer sun is a wonderful pick-me-up, especially when coming from wintry climates, yet it can get scorching!
  • Hair brush. Just one dip in the sea and hair can become a mane a lion would be proud of (especially Sarah’s!). A hair brush is our essential to keep you looking beach-glam and ready to stop by that beach bar for a chilled beer or a refreshing coconut after a day of sunbathing.
  • Conditioner. After going into the sea, we usually put conditioner in our hair to stop it drying up and getting damaged in the sun. A great leave-in conditioner is the Creme of Nature Argan Oil from Morocco Strength and Shine Leave-in Conditioner. Not only does it smell amazing – cocoa butter and vanilla mix – it also helps detangle hair, which is great for knotty hair after a dip in the ocean! It uses certified organic argan oil from Morocco as well and personally, it really worked on our hair.
  • Money. Take some notes with you to buy snacks and drinks at the beach, plus one credit or debit card (try leaving a spare at the place where you’re staying). The beach stalls (known as barracas) let you keep a tab and many accept card payments. This is great to avoid carrying larger sums of money – yet super easy to keep the caipirinhas flowing! Beach vendors patrol the sandy shores all throughout the day, taking the relentless hot sun in their stride. Try the mate or Globo biscuits – this is a classic drink and snack combination in Rio!
  • Water. It’s all too easy to keep sipping on those delicious caipirinhas (we know, we’ve been there), yet make sure to drink some water in between to avoid dehydration and keep pesky headaches at bay.
  • Sunglasses. There are beach vendors that sell sunglasses on the beach (usually around R$30) but these are unlikely to be SPF protected and they don’t last long. There is a Rio de Janeiro-based brand that we love. They’re on the pricey side, but they’re ideal if you’re looking to invest in a pair of sunglasses that will last. Zerezes strives to improve its environmental impact by producing sunglasses from sustainable materials whilst not losing sight of a fresh, modern style. The lenses are SPF protected too.
  • Straw hat or baseball hat. Not only do these look great, they are good to provide some light shade to protect your face and stop your scalp from burning.
Rio Beach Essentials Checklist



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