When Anna and I first started our South American Adventure on June 9th, 2013, we were initially going to arrive at our destination, Florianopolis, Brazil, in the beginning of August 2013. Well, August came and went, and we were still traveling. So did many more months. The reason being is we heard many travelers talking about so many awesome places that we decided to continue exploring other areas of the southern continent instead of heading straight to Brazil.
It was not until May 2014 that we crossed the Argentina/Brazil border and finally made it to our original destination of Florianopolis- a full 9 months later than initially expected. It was well worth the wait. Floripa, as the locals call it, is a paradise. You see, Florianopolis is both a large city and an island with 42 beautiful Brazilian beaches. A bridge (that looks an awful lot like the Golden Gate Bridge) connects the island to the mainland, as well as the western side of the city to the eastern side of the city. Once on the island we were transported by bus from the city center to a beach bum’s wildest dreams: long stretches of beautiful beaches, trails through wild forest, glassy lakes, small towns with the right amount of nightlife, and every possible water sport you can imagine.
We made our way through Lagoa da Conceição, a central hub on the island, and found a hostel in Fortaleza da Barra. It was called Floripa Home Hostel and was one of the best hostels we have stayed in during our time in South America. After 11 months of travel, we have stayed in many places, but this was easily in our top five. It was a hidden gem (clean, low key, awesome views, nicely decorated), so we made it our home for the next week in order to explore the island from a central location. During the week to follow, Anna and I were able to enjoy five beaches on our own, plus four more with the help of my friend, Michelle, and her car. As our tour guide for the day, Michelle gave us a snapshot into local island life and also taught us a bit about Brazilian culture. This was extremely helpful because Floripa was our first stop in Brazil, and we knew zero Portuguese. Though similar to Spanish, it is still an entirely different language, but I suspect that knowing Spanish helped us to pick up Portuguese a bit faster.
Besides the normal relaxing on the beach activities like tanning or swimming, there are so many things to do on the island. These include sandboarding on the sand dunes, waterskiing, windsurfing, kite surfing, regular surfing, stand up paddle boarding, boating, wakeboarding, beach soccer, “frescobol” (beach ping pong), or just about any other water sport or beach activity imaginable. There are even lessons for nearly all of the previously mentioned sports. When you have had enough of the beach, you could head to any one of the small beach towns, like Barra da Lagoa, to grab a bite of Brazilian cuisine or wait until night time and check out the nightlife in Lagoa da Conceição. The island has everything you could want; from the low key, more natural beaches on the southern tip, to the luxurious beach destination for famous celebrities in the northern stretch of the island. Regardless, the easy-to-use buses can take you and your surf board to the majority of the beaches in Florianopolis.
I highly recommend exploring Florianopolis for at least a week to anyone visiting Brazil. Though we did not end up staying there as long as we originally thought, we certainly were happy we made it and can not wait to go back. After all, there are still thirty-three other beaches for us to discover!