I'm not a beach person. At all. But if a beach can offer me something more than just baking under the sun, motionless, I can really get into it. And Ipanema was perfect!
First of all, it's got views! You look back, and there's the vibrant city. You look to a side, you see the hills. You look to the other side, more hills. Plus, it's my kind of sea - a bit rough, cold water that energizes you, strong currents that demand strength and balance... fun!
Then, it's also incredibly convenient! You choose a barraca (the stand that will provide you with services), you say where you want your chair, you're handed a paper list for you to keep where they'll mark how many chairs, parasols, coconuts, caipirinhas, or whatever you've had. And then you can pay when you leave, even with a credit card if you want! Now that's how I like it! Just bring yourself to the beach, let the barraca look after you!
Finally, it's just the perfect place for a stroll, end to end. A good stretch has a beautiful sidewalk with a pattern that has become one of the symbols of Rio, and it's just so relaxing to walk by while watching the sea, the city, the hills, people playing football or volleyball, the iconic Arpoador on one end (more on that in my next post)...
So, yes. The only beach I was actually dying to return to again and again. No small feat!