While on first look the beaches of Ipanema and Leblon seem to be just one long beach, there are posts along it that subdivide it into sections appropriate for the diverse crowds that come here. Posto 9 is where you’ll find Rio’s coolest and gorgeous people hang out. That area is also called Cemeterio dos Elefantes because of the old leftists, hippies and artists who go there as well. The beach in front of Rua Farme de Amoedo (called Bolsa de Valores or Crystal Palace) is the gay section while Posto 8 is primarily the domain of favela children. Arpoador, located between Ipanema and Copacabana is Rio’s most popular surfing spot.
The beaches here tend to be cleaner than Copacabana but be aware that on the weekends all beaches get very crowded. Ironically the word ipanema means ‘bad, dangerous waters’ which is an accurate enough description of the strong undertow and large waves crashing onto the shore so be extremely careful – swim only where the locals do. There is also a lookout, Mirante do Leblon, at the west end of Leblon Beach.