If you find yourself in Rio, you will (or certainly should) ultimately end up on Ipanema beach. Ipanema gets more direct ocean swell, so much cleaner water, more currents and more surf than neighboring Copacabana beach. Ipanema is a bit narrower so doesn't have the same mega party scene, but no lack of Brazilians and tourists enjoying the amazing setting. There are about 10 life guard stands as reference marks along the beach. Each has their own charm - food vendors, soccer volley ball, vendors etc and you really can't go wrong but after sampling the options - Tower 3 stood out to us for the best mix of waves, drinks and locals. Enjoy!