But seriously, what is a Brazilian canga?
To start, it has nothing to do with canga-roos.
A canga is similar to a pareo, sarong, or big lightweight scarf – BUT BETTER and Brazilian.
What is a Brazilian Canga?
A Brazilian canga is a multipurpose, multitasking miracle. Once you buy a canga, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without it – even if you’re a wannabe minimalist like me (confession: I’ve got
three seven… and a week doesn’t go by that I don’t use all of them)
You’ll notice bright and cheerful cangas right away when you arrive to any Brazilian beach – especially in Rio de Janeiro. No one brings a towel to the beach in Brazil, so don’t do it unless you want to stick out like a sore thumb. Trust me, it’s for good reason. If anyone in the world knows how to do the beach right, it’s Brazil. Everybody brings a canga, and you should too!
Why? Cangas dry much faster than a heavy towel, perfect for drying off at the beach. Also, beach towels start to smell if you don’t wash them right away after every single use (and sometimes they do anyways). Not cangas – they can be air dried in the sun and back to new, even between jumps in the ocean, because they’re cotton and lightweight. They also have a larger surface area, which makes them great for lounging on seaside, and they don’t hold onto sand like a towel does.
Cangas are also super inexpensive, between 10 and 50 reais depending on where you buy. They’re sold everywhere, from markets, to sidewalk vendors, and if you happen to forget yours rest assured someone will be walking around the beach selling them.
selling cangas of all colors and patterns
Colorful, and in every assorted pattern you can imagine (including a few of the most popular – the Brazilian flag and Copacabana sidewalk patterns), cangas make a great fashion statement, much more personalized than a towel. They’re also the perfect gift for someone at home, or just a souvenir for yourself.
Brazilian canga as a dress
Cangas are also used as coverups when you’re chilly or leaving the beach, and even as a dress or skirt. You’ll see many women leaving the beach wearing nothing but their itty bitty bikinis and a canga. If you need some wrapping ideas, Copa Bikinis has a bunch of different easy tutorials. Some are REALLY cute.
Brazilian canga skirt for big bird chasing
Cangas roll up super tiny, saving space in luggage or a carry on bag. I always bring one with me on a flight. You never know when you’ll get cold and need a blanket or a pillow, both of which a canga can be used for.
Just a few of my favorite of the many purposes of a canga:
- makeshift pillow (especially on a plane!)
- beach lounger
- portable changing room (do as the Brazilians do – hold it up around you as you get changed on the beach)
Do you have a Brazilian canga? What is your favorite use?