A large factor that contributed to the eminence that Ipanema gained worldwide is the 1960s hit song ‘Girl from Ipanema.’ But cariocas already knew long before the song was even written that the beach here is very special. Now, the appeal of the area—aside from its clean beaches and powdery sands—is the beautiful men and women in their swimwear and bikinis either lying around or playing football or volleyball. At night, the beach is transformed into one party scene.
The beach is split into two by lifeguard towers. One spot is perfect for children and families because of the calm waters. They are, in fact, separated into a different section for safety reasons. If you love to party, head off to Posto Nove or Lifeguard Tower 9 which has become a watering hole for a lot of dancing, drinking and women beach-goers in very tiny clothes. People here are also very tolerant and homosexuals can just watch out for the rainbow flag near Rua Farme de Amoedo for a lot of gay-friendly establishments and activities.
What makes this beach special is the interplay between calm waters and strong waves. During the winter season, it’s common to see waves reaching nine feet or more. For surfers, that’s like being in Disneyland. During this time, the beach again transforms to cater to surfing, sailing or belly boarding activities. During the Carnival, the roads and boulevards near the beach are closed off which means double the people and double the fun in Ipanema.