Rio de Janeiro Beach Scene
I love going to the beach in Rio de Janeiro. The beaches and the scenery are stunning, but the thing that I enjoy most is watching the vendors go by hawking their wares. You can buy most things on the beach. When entering the beach, there are numerous tents that sell chairs, umbrellas and drinks. Buy a chair for only R$5 ($1.25), sit down and let the fun begin.
I love açai and when I lived in Brazil, I consumed it multiple times per week. It is served frozen with the consistency of a slurpee. The pulp of the açaí berry is frozen and put in a blender and mixed with Guaraná syrup. Guaraná is super sweet and high in caffeine. Acái is served in a bowl or large cup, and eaten with a spoon. Frequently, it is served with banana and granola as a finishing touch.
Camarão means shrimp in Portuguese and when spoken sounds similar to the American sports car. Close your eyes, and you can hear the vendors shouting their wares. Camarão Camarão. Shrimp vendors are everywhere because shrimp are light weight and they don’t spoil. They are served on a small skewer with optional hot sauce.
Globo is a light airy snack that has the consistency of a Cheeto but not as heavy. The taste is simple and can be purchased sweet or salty. I love taking a swim and then relaxing and rehydrating with a Globo and coconut water. When in Rio de Janeiro, buying a Globo is a must because it is something unique to Rio and cannot purchased in other locations in Brazil.
On the beach and elsewhere, Brazilians don’t use towels, they have cangas. A canga is the thickness of a bed sheet, and has bright decorative colors. They are highly useful to lie on the each, dry off, wrap around the waist, and to tie things together. Prices vary substantially but like most things in Brazil, everything is negotiable.
Algodão doce translates to cotton candy. The first times my kids ate cotton candy where on the beach of Rio de Janeiro. It was great, because after they are all sticky, then I could put them in ocean to clean up.
The national drink of Brazil is caipirinha which is mixture of smashed fruit typically lime, Brazil’s national alcohol, cachaça, sugar and ice. Cachaça is distilled from sugar has a similar taste to tequila. Caiprinhas can be bought with other fruits such as kiwi, strawberry. pineapple, and macurajá (passion fruit). If you are not a fan of cachaça, it can also be mixed with vodka. Best of all, it is delivered straight to your chair at the beach.
Sometimes when I was real hungry and I couldn’t wait until the next meal, I would fill up on empadas which are quite tasty and inexpensive. In my 10 years living in Rio, there is not relationship between quality and price so I would search for the least expensive empadas. They are a a little pot pie filled with a filling of chicken or dried beef, and then baked with an olive. There are numerous flavors including vegetarian, cheese, meat, fish, chicken and lots more.
Óculos de Sol
Ever forgotten your sun glasses right when you arrive at the beach? Sit down and wait for someone to show you a wide variety of sun glasses. Of course, these are not designer sun glasses, but as ZZ Top sings, they are awesome and cheap sunglasses. The prices are negotiable, and I have never paid more than R$20 ($5). Remember, you can always so No, and there will be another guy selling sun glasses in another five minutes.
One of the first words you will learn in Brazil is cerveja, which is remarkably similar for the Spanish word for beer, cerveza. The beers are cold and cheap. When I was back in May 2019, you could purchase 3 beers for R$10 or $2.50. That’s a great price for beer delivered straight to your beach chair.
To be sure, the Rio de Janeiro beach scene is for adults, families and lots of kids. You don’t have to bring the kids beach toys because there are an ample number of vendors selling a variety of distractions for the little ones.
Henna tattoos are temporary tattoos that last somewhere between two and three weeks. Because of its temporary nature, one can be much more adventurous plus it doesn’t hurt like a regular tattoo. And best of all, you can have one done from the comfort of your beach chair in Rio de Janeiro.
When I was single in Brazil, I was amazed that you could buy your lovely beach date and new bikini right there on the beach. Believe me, it was worth it.
At times, I am amazed that beach commerce is prohibited at most beaches in the United States. Who wouldn’t love to have a nice cold ice cream bar or popsicle on a perfect day with the sand between your toes?
In addition to Globo (my favorite) a wide variety of cookies, crackers and other snacks can be purchased on the beach.
I smoked almost my entire adult life until I found Rio de Janeiro and then I quit. You can cigarettes by the pack and you can buy a single cigarette for somewhere around $.10 at any grocery store, newsstand, convenience store, and even right to your chair at the beach.
Mate Leão is the Brazilian version of an Arnold Palmer which is a mixture of ice tea and lemonade. The man brings two kegs and you make your own mixture which is quite refreshing on a warm day. These guys deserve some sort of medal because those kegs are heavy.
Picolé is Portuguese for popsicle, and just like the ice cream truck, when my kids the man yelling “Picolé”, my kids run to him. How can you resist?
For me, this is perhaps the worst beach commerce job. This guy has to drag around a vat of boiling water over sand to deliver corn on the cob.
Termicos para Lata
Remember those ice cold cevejas mentioned earlier in this article? You can buy what Americans call koozies to keep them colder for longer. Plus it is a nice souvenir of a wonderful beach day in Rio de Janeiro.
Believe it or not, you can buy a hammock while lying on the beach. This is one of the more difficult jobs because hammocks are heavy. I asked them man how much, and he started at R$200 or $50. That is pretty expensive, since I normally don’t have much more than R$100 on me while visiting the beach.
If you close your eyes and you can smell something cooking, it is a Brazilian type of grilled cheese. The man has a little grill, which he grills the cheese on a little wood skewer. It is a definitely a Brazilian favorite.
Cachorro Quente translates word for word to Hot Dog. However, it is not exactly the same as an juicy hot dog you would get at a baseball game. But if you go to the beach enough, it is certainly worth a try.