While we often write about some of the world’s more remote, spectacular beaches, every now and again we want a bit of life, a bit of hustle and bustle and where better to experience the party then what could well be the world’s most famous beach. Copacabana Beach stretches from Posts Dois (lifeguard watchtower 2) near Princesa Isabel Avenue all the way down to Posto Seis (lifeguard watchtower six – which actually doesn’t exist). From end to end it’s about 4 kilometres long.
The name Copacabana is derived from the Virgin de Copacabana who is the patron saint of Bolivia. A chapel in the Virgin’s honour was built near the beach (hence the name) but was replaced by a fort in 1914. An older fort is situated at the other end of the beach and this is called Fort Duque de Caxais and was built in 1779.
In the 1930s, recognising the significance of the beach, the authorities constructed an enormous promenade which stretches the length of the seafront. It was eventually completed in 1970 and features a geometric wave design along its’ length which owes much to the historical Portuguese influence in Brazil. The designer was Roberto Burle Marx.
Copacabana is a great, lively beach of course but is also well known for its spectacular New Year’s Eve celebrations. Free concerts are held and it’s essentially one big beach party which regularly attracts millions of revelers. The fireworks display is particularly notable and ranks up with the celebrations in Sydney, London, Paris and other major cities on New Year’s Eve.
Beach football has also become increasingly popular in recent years and Copacabana Beach is now the official home of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, although the finals are not always held there.. Brazil have been the most successful team with 13 victories but lost out in 2011 to Russia, who won their first title.
So if you want a relaxing beach break, this is not the place to come; however if you want a busy beach with decent surf, surrounded by Rio de Janerio’s nightlife, Copacabana may be the beach for you.