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The beach of ‘The Girl’

Ipanema is nearly as famous (and as beautiful) as Copacabana – thanks in part to the Bossa Nova classic ‘The Girl from Ipanema’. The ultimate summer hit from 1964 was composed 2 years earlier by Tom Jobim and immortalized by the voice of Astrud Gilberto. The song was recently covered by Bebel Gilberto. And the girl from Ipanema? She really exists and her name is Helô Pinheiro.

The kilometres-long beach of Ipanema is well organized: each group has its own favourite stretch of sand. Posto Nove (life guard station 9) attracts hunks with six-packs and beautiful girls in string bikinis. The section of beach at the end of popular nightlife destination Rua Farme de Amoedo is known as the gay beach, and nicknamed Bolsa de Valores – the stock exchange. Posto 8 is popular with youths from the favelas, and surfers are drawn to Posto 7. Hippies, intellectuals, singles and families with children have also staked out their preferred stretches of beach.

The view of Ipanema at sunset
The view of Ipanema at sunset

Rio de Janeiro

Each group has its own stretch of beach

The beach begins at Arpoador, with a small park and a panoramic lookout from the rocky outcrop, and ends at Leblon, with another lookout above the rocks and a bar and a patio. For the best sunsets, grab a table at beach bar Caneco do Rei near Posto 12. Ipanema is not only the name of the beach but also of the adjacent neighbourhood where you can find Rio’s most upscale shops, the best restaurants and trendiest hotels. Fans of luxury and design will love the Hotel Fasano; it is designed by Philippe Starck and decorated with modernist furniture by Oscar Niemeyer and Sergio Rodrigues. The rooftop infinity pool has a breathtaking view.

“For the most beautiful sunsets, nab a table at beach bar Caneco do Rei”

Hotel Fasano: pool with a view

Helô: the Girl from Ipanema

One sunny tropical day, composer Tom Jobim and poet Vinicius de Moraes were sitting on the patio of Bar Veloso as always, when a pretty girl walked by. She inspired the pair to write 'The Girl from Ipanema'. The sweet and sensual voice of singer Astrud Gilberto made the song the most famous Bossa Nova hit of all time. The pretty girl’s name is Helô Pinheiro and today she is no longer 17 but approaching 70. After a career as a model, she opened a swimwear fashion boutique called Garota de Ipanema, which has been successful to this very day.
Keeping the ball up is a popular beach activity

Photo credits

  • Hotel Fasano: pool with a view: Bruno Fontoura, 123rf