As I’ve already reported, my first time in Florianopolis was a bit of a let down. The foul weather prevented me from exploring much during the day, and the nightlife was too hardcore for my taste.
After a few weeks of travelling up the coast of Brazil, I decided to give the place another chance. This time, though, I was due to meet a good friend and I made it my aim to see if doing things differently would make me see Florianopolis in a new light.
Instead of the party hostels, we found a cute little guest house called Floripa Home Hostel, which was across the lagoon from town, but closer to the beaches. It was almost half the price of the other accommodation on HostelWorld, there were only six of us staying there and we were left to our own devices. This was the first obvious advantage over my first stay in Florianopolis. We could do our own laundry and hang it outside (a rare luxury in South America), we had every kitchen utensil imaginable, and the room was cosy and clean. We didn’t want for anything.
But the best feature of the hostel was its owner, Jasura. She was the most welcoming host I encountered my whole trip. On our first day, when we asked how to get to the beach, she drove us there in her car and, after that, it became habitual.
By the end of the week, we’d checked out many of the island’s beautiful beaches. So, here’s an overview of the best beaches in Florianopolis.
FIND ACCOMMODATION DEALS
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BEST BEACHES IN FLORIANOPOLIS
This beach is currently one of the most popular. It’s overtaken its neighbour, Joaquina, as the main surfer’s hangout, but it draws sun worshipers in droves too. With its proximity to Lagoa de Conceicao and a wide bar of sand backed by small dunes, it’s easy to see why. For me though, it was a little too crowded with parasols.
BARRA DA LAGOA
Barra da Lagoa is just north of Praia Mole and worth the extra time on the bus. It’s a great place for beginners to take to the waves and you’re more likely to find a patch of sand big enough for your sarong not to overlap with the stranger’s next to you. There are loads of beach vendors, selling everything from fresh fruit drinks, cocktails, acai, choripan and empanadas to necklaces, sarongs, bikinis and henna tattoos. But unlike many tourist traps I’ve visited, they wait for you to approach them instead of badgering you for money. This beach also has a couple of blocks of shopping streets behind it, which is great if you want to escape the midday heat and pick up a few souvenirs.
Jurerê, on the north of the island, is where the rich and famous hang out. It will come as no surprise that it costs twice as much as the other beaches to rent a chair or parasol there, and don’t even think about ordering a beer. If you like to people watch, this is the place to be. When I was there, there was also a man-made floating island about half a kilometre out to sea, which they use as a watersports base. It was great fun trying to stand up on it while the waves made it undulate beneath us. Many of the best clubs are in this area, including the popular pool party venue, P12, where famous DJs do sets all day and into the early hours.
Matadeiro was my favourite of them all. We’d have been hard pressed to make our own way there without the wonderful Jasura, and the extra effort involved in getting there meant it was more deserted. There’s a quaint little second-hand book store at the back of the beach if you’re looking for something to occupy your mind while you laze on the soft sand, and one or two bars serve a variety of food and refreshments. The beach is split by a picturesque estuary and an outcrop of land with wind-battered viewpoints.
This one is very wide, which makes it easy to find your own spot, and even dare to pull out the beach bats or volleyball without fear of kicking sand in people’s faces. The downside it that it’s not so good for swimming because of the large waves that roll in from the Atlantic.
Every sunny destination needs its nudist beach, and Florianopolis is no exception. Galheta serves just that purpose, as well as doubling up as the number one hangout for gay people. It might have just been bad timing on my part (see above for majorly threatening clouds), but this beach was so windy our sarongs were buried in sand in seconds, and our skin stung from the onslaught of gale-force sand particles. With this in mind, you might want to think twice before embracing the nudity.
Have you been to Florianopolis? What was your take on it? And did you have a favourite beach?