There is all kinds of action going on at the beach in Rio de Janeiro during the summer (Dec, Jan, Feb). There is footvolley (basically volleyball using only your feet), people exercising, people body surfing, but my favorite has to be bargaining for anything that people are selling. There are people that walk up and down the beach all day selling sarongs (basically a light beach towel), jewelry, drinks, and shirts. Honestly, I don't know how they work so hard all day in the hot Rio sun.
I didn't buy anything from the vendors until the last day, but I ended up buying one sarong. The vendor came at me asking for 20 Reais. After being in Rio de Janeiro for a week I already knew that other tourists had been buying these for about 10-15 Reais depending on the vendor. I ended up buying it for 15 Reais, and I felt like I didn't do a good job bargaining. At least it wasn't the 20 Reais that he wanted. It was a black one that has a huge symbol of Cristo in the middle...pretty cool.
In the picture above, my friend Hayden was working hard on the beach. At first he told me that he was not going to buy a sarong. The next thing I know is Hayden flagging down a vendor. Then the vendor started hustling. So they started with one for 20, then Hayden asked "how much for two?" The price was 2 for 30 Reais. Next thing I know Hayden bought 5 for 50 Reais. So it actually turned out to be a good deal for Hayden, but in reality the vendor is a great salesman! He talked Hayden into buying 5 sarongs when he wasn't going to buy any!
Don't worry about bringing a chair and umbrella to the beach either. Up and down Impanema and Copacabana beach they have different crews of workers that rent beach supplies. You can rent just a chair or umbrella for 4 Reais a piece, or you can rent them both for 8 Reais. As you can see above, the chairs are really comfortable!
I can promise you one thing about going to the beach in Rio de Janeiro...you're not going to be bored!