Rio's beaches aren't for relaxing; they're for people watching. All the action—foot volleyball, coconut water, banana hammocks—is on Copacabana and Ipanema. Each has its own style. So where exactly to spread your towel?

Copacabana, Posto 3 Just in front of the Copacabana Palace hotel sits a clutch of red-faced tourists. For the uninitiated, a safe bet.

Copacabana, Posto 6 This is surfer territory—a.k.a. Arpoador.

Ipanema, Posto 9 The nexus of bronzed beauties, where young buns come for sun.

Ipanema, Farme Gay Well-groomed men and the drag queens who love them; south of Posto 9.