Sao Paulo’s got the nightlife, but Cariocas — residents of Rio de Janeiro — know how to party while the sun shines. Tamara Sheward gets the bottom line on keeping up with the throngs in thongs on Rio’s famous Ipanema Beach (and takes her camera).

Show off
“A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips” seems to be an exhortation rather than a warning on Ipanema. Bottoms are big — in every sense — with bums easily trumping boobs on the Carioca “What’s Hot” checklist. All but the most fit / exhibitionistic / deluded travellers will shy from the notorious fio dental (literally, “dental floss”) bikini, but self-imposed wedgies do go a long way towards fitting in. And I’m pretty sure there’s a law against boardshorts.
Tip: Fio dental is why the Brazilian wax was invented. For the love of all that is holy, don’t even consider wriggling into a local G-string without one.

Gawk openly
Everybody, and I mean everybody, from the demigods glistening under beach showers to the 200-year-old woman selling sarongs on the sand, is up for a right old perv. Locals don’t think twice about craning their necks, standing on tip-toes or pushing some other rubbernecker out of the way to get a better view of passing totty, so why should you? To be ignored on Ipanema is a fate worse than death, so you can justify consider your lascivious gaze as a public service.
Tip: Remember to ditch this habit in the departure lounge: conspicuous leering is more likely to earn you a slap than a tickle back home.

Go postal
Ipanema (and upscale neighbour Leblon) beach is divided into numbered postos (posts), literal lines in the sand between sunseeking subcultures. Don’t know where to lay your towel? Here’s a sample rundown:

Posto 7: Surfers
Between 8 and 9: LGBT
Posto 9: Models
Posto 10: The filthy rich
Tip: Posto 9 has absurdly gorgeous men in tiny shorts playing volleyball. With their chests. Just sayin’.

About Tamara Sheward

In between travelling to exotic places around the world, Tamara Sheward has worked as a toy spider salesperson, a Guinness packer, a Quizmaster and an occasional journalist. She is the author of Bad Karma: Confessions of a Reckless Traveller in South-East Asia, the co-author of 101 Sudoku for Kids, and the author of The Little Aussie Alphabet Book and The Little Aussie Numbers Book.