Rio designates first nudist beach

Rio de Janeiro has declared Abrico beach, an hour's drive from the city center, a nudist beach in "a courageous decision by the mayor," says a nudist activist (AFP Photo/Christophe Simon)

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) - It is a city where the locals have long enjoyed showing off a bit of bronzed flesh, but the people of Rio can now go all the way.

Abrico beach, an hour's drive west of Rio's center, was officially designated as the Brazilian city's first nudist site on Tuesday.

"This is a courageous decision by the mayor and it will help Rio become a cultural and tourist reference point, especially with the city about to celebrate its 450th anniversary and the 2016 Olympic Games," said nudist activist Paula Nogueira.

Last year, Nogueira and another activist, Ana Rios, organized a topless "protest" via Facebook to celebrate the start of summer -- but only six women showed up at Ipanema beach near the city center.

Despite Brazil's reputation for frivolity and sensuality, topless bathing -- never mind nudity -- is frowned upon by many.

"I have always found strange this puritan attitude in Brazil where you see naked women everywhere during carnival and on magazine covers -- yet going topless on the beach is a crime," Rios said during last year's protest.

Claudio Hailuc, representing a group of Abrico naturists, welcomed Tuesday's move.

"We'd been lacking security and respect for a long, long time," he told Rio daily O Dia.