There’s a very good reason why Florianopolis has become the top destination for second homes in Brazil; it’s 42 beaches. But it’s the variety of beaches that make it so appealing. There are secluded beaches needing half a day’s trekking to reach, beaches surrounded by bars and bikini-clad Brazilians for the party crowd, over 20 beaches with waves good enough to surf (beginner or pro) and plenty of others frequented by families or the retired contingent looking to while away their days in the blazing sun.
I stayed for 10 days in Florianopolis (Floripa for short), 100 days wouldn’t have been enough. My initial plan was to make the most of all the good surf spots. In the end, I was so overwhelmed by the possibilities of seeing more of the island that I only got the board out on a couple of occasions.
The holy grail for anyone visiting is Praia do Lagoinha do Leste. This is a beach that requires a 4-hour hike from Armacao to reach. It’s a tranquil walk through plenty of trees and over rocks that has the most perfect ending when the beach slowly reveals itself at the end. Beautiful clear waters, encased by cliffs coated in green on all sides. To dive in at the end after 4 hours of sweaty hiking is heaven itself. Afterwards, a path can be found which leads to the main road which joins the center of the island to Pantano do Sul. This is simply a trek through the trees behind the beach and takes a couple of hours.
Other notable beaches for trekking include Praia do Naufragados (which is the southern most beach on the island) and Praia Brava (in the top right corner).
Now might be a good time to go to Florianopolis. The population has shot up to 400k from 200k in the last five years as more and more people relocate there. This is largely due to a far better economic climate in Brazil, meaning that many city dwellers have been able to buy their dream holiday home here (Ronaldinho being one of the more famous people to have a home in Canasveiras, in the north of the island). This has subsequently increased the wealth of the area and the eagerness of property developers to build more and more housing. This holds with it some drawbacks. The public transport system has to be treated with care. The bus can be one of your best friends on the islands. Buses leave from the center of the island to many stop-offs around the island, where a second bus can be caught to get to the more remote locations, without having to pay any additional money. This works very well, however, catch the bus at rush hour and you’ll find yourself spending a few hours of your day just trying to get through traffic.
Many travellers head to Barra do Lagoa for the cheap hostels and easy surf. There are a couple of Backpackers hostels there which are relatively cheap, but include free WiFi, surfboard rental and a number of other benefits. See http://backpackersfloripa.com/ for more details. For a more relaxed surrounds I would recommend one of the Pousadas or guesthouses. My favourite s Pousada do Marujo in Barra do Lagoa. Run by an extremely friendly family, who will help you with anything you may need, this place was the perfect antidote after spending a week in Rio.
In the south of the island, there are two very cheap hostels; Bells Company Hostel in Praia do Armacao and Albergue do Pirata in Costa de Dentro. They are both located close to a number of the different beaches in the south of the island, and are better located for people wanting to catch the bigger waves, as well as good distance from Lagoinha do Leste and Naufragados for anyone fancying a hike.
Pousada do Marujo – Rod. Joao Gulaberto Soares 17421, Barra da Lagoa.
Albergue do Pirata – Rua Rozalia P. Ferreira 4973. Tel: 3389-2727 or 9134-2026. Take Rio Tavares (410) then Costa de Dentro (563) buses.
Bells Company Hostel – Av. Antonio Borges dos Santos 737, Praia da Armacao, Servidao Canoinhas, 60. Tel: 3338-1144.