6 Ways To Beach Like A Brazilian

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6 Ways to Enjoy Beaches Like a Brazilian


A lot of times, especially when the weather is cold, I find myself reminiscing on my time living and studying in Brazil. Although most of my time was spent in São Paulo (I’m a Paulistana at heart, after all), my weekends and holidays ferias were spent at various Brazilian beach towns, including the marvelous city known as Rio de Janeiro.

Nearly a decade later, I still “beach it” like a Brazilian because it’s so practical and it just makes sense. I thought I’d share to you with you the 6 ways to “beach it” like a Brazilian.

These aren’t necessarily specific things to do, they’re more like mindsets you need to adopt. Once you understand how Brazilians approach going to the beach, you’ll understand how to “beach” it better.

1) Adopt A ‘Less Is More’ Mentality

…and I’m not just talking about the bathing suits here, although I’ll get to that in a second. I’m talking about minimalism.

Car with too many bags on roof

US Beachgoers

Who can relate with me here? Going to the beach as a child growing up in the US consisted of packing the car to the brim. Beach chairs, umbrellas, coolers, food, toys, beach towels, sunscreen (way more than necessary), aloe vera, changes of clothes, etc.

Maybe this is why we didn’t go to the beach that often or if we did, our beach trips turned into beach camping trips too.

If we were on vacation and going to the beach from a hotel room, we still had a big beach bag packed to the brim. We also bought a little Styrofoam cooler for snacks and water. Heck, even going to the pool was a chore!

Brazilian Beachgoers

Brazilian beachgoers “pack” only the necessities, which include:

  • Soccer ball and/or paddle boards
  • Sunscreen
  • Music device (optional, normally just a cell phone)
  • Cash
  • Kangas (I’ll get to this one in a second)

2) Embrace Brazilian Bathing Suit Fashion – Don’t Fight It

For the ladies, the Brazilian bathing suit is…

Fil Dental

Yes, beach moda or fashion is a big thing. Normally, whatever is in style on the nation’s current novela happens to correlate to what the beach fashion is in real life. For example, board shorts for men were in style for a time but only because the men wore board shorts on the novela. Most Brazilian men wear the sunga (see below), but something that is always in style for women is the itty bitty bikini.

Brazilian women of all sizes wear bikinis, even fil dental (which translates to dental floss) aka G-strings. Because nearly ALL women wear itty bitty bikinis, it’s not really a big deal. There’s no body shaming at the beach, or at least none that I’ve never felt or experienced it. That’s probably one of my favorite aspects of going to Brazilian beaches.

Woman in a string bikini in Brazil

Woman backside in bikini

Nudity is a no-no.

As un-modest as Brazilian bikinis may seem, you’ll never see a Brazilian woman topless or nude on the beach. Nudity on the beach is generally practiced by Europeans on holiday or Brazilian prostitutes. Plus, nudity on the beach blurs tan lines. Tan lines are a must-have accessory for Brazilian women in the summer!

Now onto the men.

Just like women’s bikinis cover little skin, men’s swimwear is quite small.

Speedos, Banana Hammocks aka Sungas

So what I love is that the minimal approach to beach fashion is equal opportunity. Men bare just as much skin! Because Brazilian men {and women too} love to play soccer fútebol, rally a volleyball, go for light jogs, play paddleboard, surf, body board/boogie board, traditional American board shorts are too obtrusive. They get in the way, and make for terrible tan lines.

3) Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize

Two women in bikinis

Until I lived and beached it in Brazil, I opted for minimal jewelry when at the beach. After all, I didn’t want to lose anything, get sand in it, or scratch anything.

In Brazil, this is not the case! The bigger the earrings, necklaces, bracelets, anklets, hairbands, armbands, the better. However, the accessories Brazilian women (and men) wear are not their fine jewelry. It’s not even their costume jewelry. It’s more like beach jewelry. These accessories are generally inexpensive and found easily by street vendors in any city in Brazil.

If you forgot your accessories or your earrings break on the beach, no worries. There are plenty of beach vendors selling “beach jewelry” at bargain basement prices. If you have any sort of jewelry or metal sensitivity, I would not recommend purchasing or wearing this jewelry. But if not, you can really up your beach game quickly and on the cheap.

Tip: Many Brazilian women suggest putting clear nail polish on any of the metal surfaces of these “cheap” accessories to avoid an allergic reaction.

Women on beach with Brazilian flag

4) The Kanga

Natalie in a kanga

The kanga, or what we Americans like to call the sarong, is

Woman in a kangaprobably the most essential item for any beach going group. The sarong acts not only as a cover-up but also a towel. No need for large, bulky beach blankets or towels.

A couple will normally share one kanga but it’s also normal to see men with an extra kanga (though not worn on the body). You go to the beach wearing a kanga. You leave the beach wearing a kanga. They dry quickly and look pretty! You can also find beach vendors selling them for $10 or so. I love my collection of kangas!


5) Tan Lines & Peach Fuzz

Natalie with tan lines

One thing I loved about Brazilians was their unashamed acceptance of tan lines! Wearing a tank top with visible halter bikini tan lines? Be prepared for some second looks coming your way and come cat-calls (annoying no matter where in the world you are). Tan lines are like your badge of summer beaching, and it’s also attractive.

Now onto the peach fuzz…

Another common thing you see in Brazil is leg hair. I know, I know, you are probably thinking, “but Brazilians and hairless go hand-in-hand!” To a certain extent that is true, except with leg hair, especially upper leg hair. More often than not, you’ll see women with bleached blonde upper leg hair. Every time I’ve gone into a Brazilian salon to get a leg wax in (and these aren’t your typical U.S. salons), they always recommend bleaching the upper leg hair versus waxing it.

Ask them for a “Brazilian” wax and you’ll get a perplexed look, but hair removal in Brazil is an entirely different post. Let me know if you’re interested in learning more about the trends in Brazilian hair removal below!

5) Cash Is King

Like I mentioned earlier, Americans tend to pack umbrellas, chairs, towels, coolers, etc. We can’t forget anything! In Brazil, outside a small bag full of beach toys, sunscreen, and a music playing device (a lot of times this is just a mobile phone), Brazilian beachgoers simply withdraw a bit of cash, because beach vendors sell everything they may need at the praia.

Like the somewhat obnoxious but much appreciated snack vendors scaling baseball stadiums during games, beach vendors are always open for business in Brazil. They patrol the beachgoers’ potential dehydration, accessory deficiency, potential sunburn, bottom in the hot sand dilemmas.

There’s a vendor for that!

At any given moment, you can easily wave down a food/snack vendor!

Friends on the beach

Beach Furniture

Vendors will bring you whatever you desire, especially if you are willing to pay. Most commonly, vendors rent chairs and umbrellas to you on the cheap, think $5 – $10 (depending on the beach) for the entire day. There’s no paperwork, no contract. You just pay the cash and they bring you the goods. At the end of the day, you just leave it behind. Don’t be fooled though; they are eyeing their goods like hawks, so don’t even think about carrying them away.

At larger, more crowded beaches, these do tend to sell out. So, if you know you’ll want a chair, it’s best to rent one as soon as someone asks you! Also, the larger, touristy beaches will typically (wait, always) overcharge tourists. Brush up on your Portuguese and refuse to pay the asking price or ask a nice Brazilian family where and how to get a chair and they’ll do it for you. Brazilians are awesome like that.

Raw coconuts on the beach


Coconut water out of a real, raw coconut

Oh my gosh I’m old. I’ve been drinking coconut water since before it became mainstream! Except I was spoiled, learning to drink coconut water straight from the fruit. I swear, green coconuts can be found in every single picture of me at or near a beach. I dare you to play “I spy.” When you get a coconut in Brazil, the vendor pulls out a full, chilled coconut and with a machete, swiftly slashes in a few well-practiced movements to make a perfect opening for a straw.

Grilled cheese in Brazil

Snacks Galore

Grilled cheese, literally, a cheese stick grilled, coxinha (my personal favorite), pão de queijo, random bits of grilled meat, fresh fruit, juice, beer, water, popsicles (get the popsicles, you won’t regret it – just make sure they are made with filtered water), you name it. You’ll see all sorts of snacks pass you by. Don’t worry, if you miss one, there’ll be another vendor trailing behind.

6) Relax

Unlike beaching it in the US, for some reason beaching it in Brazil is so much more relaxing.

It’s not uncommon to see young couples necking on the beach. Don’t stare.

It’s not uncommon to see larger ladies in smaller bikinis. Don’t stare.

Likewise, it’s not uncommon to see larger men crammed into sungas. Don’t stare.

Basically, your beach experience is for you and whomever you are with. If anything, join in the fun! Brazilians are social and inviting, love to chat, meet new people, and when at the beach, it’s no business, all play.

If these mentalities or “rules” don’t work for you, ignore them. Own your Brazilian beach experience and if you want to pack that cooler full of food, prepare to share it with whoever is around you. If you want to wear a t-shirt over your bathing suit, own it. Confidence is mandatory at the praia.

Jump in the water, don’t lollygag.

Dry off, tan, eat snacks, try new things, and repeat

You are going to be at the beach for a while.

Play sports, walk up and down the beach. If you are a young lady, catcalls will happen.

It’s not uncommon to see people actually swimming and playing in the water. Join them!

Basically, have fun! Be confident and social. It’ll be the time of your life.


Relaxing beach day gif

If you have anything to add to my list or if anything has drastically changed in Brazil beach culture, feel free to let me know in the comments below!

Be beautiful!


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Beauty is about perception, not about make-up. I think the beginning of all beauty is knowing and liking oneself. You can't put on make-up, or dress yourself, or do you hair with any sort of fun or joy if you're doing it from a position of correction.

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