On a sunny day, Cariocas (residents of Rio) and others come out in droves to sun on the beach, read, make out or play soccer or volleyball.
The beach is full of life – especially on weekends. I stayed in Rio de Janeiro with a friend for nearly a week in May 2003. As soon as we walked on Ipanema beach, a beach boy asked us if we wanted a chair and umbrella. He then offered us something cold to drink. I started off with a Guarana, a very popular Brazilian fruit juice and then moved on to Chopp (Brazilian draft beer – excellent). It was quite nice to relax on the beach and be waited on by the beach boys. I was amazed at the number of vendors roaming the beach attempting to sell toasted cheese (very good), acai sorbet (raspberry like fruit with granola and Guarana syrup), chicken pastries and non-consumable items such as necklaces, etc. You can even get a tattoo!
On Sundays, the avenue in front of the beach is closed to vehicular traffic so that pedestrians can take a leisurely stroll without the fear of getting clipped by motorists. There were lots of street entertainers as well. The beach is definitely one of the highlights of Rio.