Say “Rio” to the average traveler, and he imagines bodacious and well-bronzed bodies in thongs and string bikinis. Rio de Janeiro is known as a provocative destination. The reputation is probably deserved…even though this Brazilian seaside city has never had a nude beach or condoned nudity or liberal shows of skin on its beaches.
In fact, much of the local population is traditionally conservative, frowning on topless sunbathing and any form of public nudity.
Now, the first no-strings-attached beach option in the region has opened at Playa Abrico, an hour’s drive west of Rio.
The decision for the location of the beach was no accident. With miles of pristine beaches within walking distance of Rio’s commercial neighborhoods, finding a beach wasn’t the problem. The intention is to provide a no-suit, no-problem beach that was easily reachable from the city.
Relevant Brazilian legislation, which considers topless sunbathing an “obscene act,” dates to the 1940s and calls for harsh penalties for obscene violators. The maximum punishment is 3 to 12 months in jail. The law isn’t strictly enforced, though. It all depends on who catches you.
Paulina Nogueira, enthusiastic nudist, orchestrated a topless protest in December 2013 in Rio with fellow-nudist Anna Rios. Both women called Playa Abrico and its location “a courageous decision by the mayor [of Rio].” Nogueira believes the new bikini-optional beach will help attract even more tourists.
Nogueira and Rios instigated the protest in 2013 after police threatened to arrest Brazilian actress Cristina Flores. The famous local actress was taking part in a photo shoot but was told that if she didn’t cover up her naked breasts she’d be arrested.
“I have always found strange, this puritan attitude in Brazil,” Rios said during the protest. “You see naked women everywhere during carnival and on magazine covers—yet going topless on the beach is a crime.”
Not anymore, thanks to the new, legal, Abrico nude beach.