We couldn’t get enough of the beautiful beaches in Rio de Janerio, so after we heard of Florianopolis, we jumped at the chance for another beach town and headed south.
Florianopolis is the capital city and second largest city of the state of Santa Catarina, in the Southern region of Brazil. It is easily reachable by a 1-hour flight from Rio De Janerio or a long bus, (17 + hours) with a stop in Sao Paulo. The bus will cost $27 (prices may vary depending on the company).
We were lucky to snatch up a promo flight through Avianca Brasil and were pretty pleased we didn’t have to take the bus but it’s definitely do-able if you have the time.
Florianopolis has become one of the most popular destinations in Brazil due to its stunning beaches, interesting culture, lively nightlife and picturesque scenery. Especially in season, some would say Florianopolis is another version of the crazy party island, Ibiza in Spain, but at a fraction of the cost.
Getting from the Airport
Where you’re staying on the island will obviously change your means of transport from the airport to your hotel, but you have many options by taxi, bus or car rental. It’s best to prepay your taxi prior to leaving the airport for a fixed rate. From the airport to Barra Da Lagoa, cost 80 BRL ($20 USD). We shared a taxi with 2 fellow travellers heading to the same hostel which was able to halve our cost. Florianopolis also has a reliable bus system but it will usually take 2, sometimes 3 changes.
Where we stayed in Florianopolis
Considering the island has 42 beaches, there is little room to go wrong with where you stay, however in saying that Lagoa da Conceição is the most famous area for tourism and one of the most lively towns. Here you can find a handful of hotels/hostels, restaurants, bars, supermarkets & shops.
We stayed a 2o minute bus ride away to one of Florianopolis’ famous beaches; Barra da Lagoa. Conveniently located in the centre of the island, many of the North and South beaches are accessible from here via bus, car or the renting of a scooter. The town itself is small but you can still find a handful of restaurants, mini supermarkets and of course the beach.
Note: There is no ATM in Barra Da Lagoa, the closest is in the town of Lagoa.
We stayed at Barra Beach Club and it is definitely up there with one of our favourite accommodations. The location was perfect, the view was pretty sweet and the staff were super helpful. Waking up to the ocean every morning, you can’t beat it! The hostel has dorm rooms and private rooms, a bar & restaurant, buffet breakfast, beach toys, plus free surfboard/wetsuit use. Every day someone came to the hostel to provide activities for the day in and around the island. At night, a party promoter came to keep you posted on the evening’s events. There’s no wonder it was voted #1 hostel in Latin America this past year.
Getting around in Florianopolis
From the city centre, dozens of buses go to all the beaches on the island. To reach some beaches, you will need to change numerous times at the terminals and connecting times won’t always line up so be prepared to add a little extra onto your travel time especially if you just miss one like we did (see pic below). The cost is 3.50 BRL ($.90c USD) each way & transfers are free. This means you can go on 4 different buses from one end of the island to the other and only pay the 1-time cost.
Tickets can be bought on the bus. For a more comfortable bus ride, there is a yellow air-conditioned bus called Linhas Executivas and this runs along some of the main beach routes along with going directly downtown. The cost is double to that of the regular bus system.
For the best way to see all the beaches, we recommend renting a car or a scooter. It is much more time effective and you can go at your own pace. Renting a car can cost anywhere from 110 to 130 BRL ($30 USD) however keep in mind that during high season the traffic can be very heavy, and it could easily take 1- 2 hours to get to the beach due to a lot of single lane roads. Scooter rentals can be rented from most of the towns and are a very popular choice of getting around.
(See beach map below)
What to do in Florianopolis
Surfing, partying and relaxing on the beaches in Florianopolis are the most popular forms of activities, however, there is also a range of water sports & hikes to tackle. Below is a list of some water sports activities and the best beaches to enjoy them at.
- Paragliding at Barra da Lagoa, Lagoa da Conceição
- Scuba-Diving at Praia Mole, Praia do Santinho, Praia dos Ingleses
- Sandboarding at Joaquina
- Surfing at Barra da Lagoa, Praia da Joaquina, Praia Mole, and Matadeiro
- Windsurfing at Lagoa da Conceição
- Hiking at Lagoa do Peri, Naufragados, Lagoinha do Leste, Costa da Lagoa
A short 15 minute walk from our hostel we reached these ‘natural swimming pools’ where you could enjoy views of Barra Da Lagoa along with rock jumping. Remember to keep your belongings close or bring the bare minimum. Although it is much safer than Rio/Salvador you can never be too cautious.
Top Beach choices in Florianopolis
- Campeche Beach – A very long beach. Across the water, you can see the famous Campeche Island. There were a lot of windsurfers out here when we visited. The weather wasn’t our best friend this day but it was awesome to watch the windsurfers.
- Joaquina Beach – Joaquina has long been the most popular beach in Florianopolis but we preferred others. This beach is well known for its big sand dunes and surfing.
- Mole Beach – Our favourite beach! This beach is taking over the popular Joaquina Beach and is a hot spot for the young crowd + popular for surfers. A 1o minute ride from our hostel in Barra Da Lagoa.
- Barra Da Lagoa – The beach right by our hostel, a long beach also popular for beginner surfers. It gets very crowded over the weekend but just keep walking and you’ll be able to find a nice spot. During the weekends, they had a truck that worked as a bar and a DJ booth. Coolest invention ever.
- Jureré – This part of the island is for the rich and famous. Resting on the north of the island, you’ll find huge homes, stunning beaches and a whole lot of money! There are a lot more resorts, village hotels in the north of the island.
- Lagoinha do Leste (below)– Located south of the island, this beach is only accessible by hiking or boat. Some will hike there and return by boat or vice versa. The hike is somewhat challenging but definitely doable.
Nightlife in Florianopolis
There are so many options for nightlife and being there over the only weekend didn’t allow us to experience all but it was enough 😉 We have to save some for next time.
Brazilians do things a little different when it comes to ordering drinks. You are often given a card or a wristband to hand in at the end of the night to pay your bill. First, you pay for the drink, its added to your ‘tab’ and then you go to the bar and pick up your drink. This is supposed to keep the lines flowing at the bars, sometimes it works, others not so much.
Do not, however, lose the card given to you or there will be a fee & angry security. We found out the hard way one once, and it took them forever to let me leave the club.
We went out in Lagoa da Conceição most nights at bars such as Books & Beers, Black Swan, Mustafa, John Bull, Casa de Noca and Club Malam. These were the most convenient for us staying where we were and ranged in the atmosphere.
When heading to Lagoa, definitely start your night with dinner at the ‘Food Truck Parking Lot’. A great range of food trucks for every taste bud.
North of the island is where you’ll find the most famous (& expensive) clubs such as P12 (pool party), Pacha, Stage Music Park, Terraza and Cafe de la Musique. Be prepared for the upmarket clubs and bring some extra cash plus your ID to get you through the night.
Saturday night rolls around and instead of heading into town, we realise there is a massive beach party being thrown directly in front of our hostel on the small beach. It was the perfect (& cheap) way to spend the night plus it was the easiest way to end it. Straight up some stairs and you’re in bed.
We will definitely be back to Floripa & for longer this time! It was such an awesome, relaxed beach town that had everything we love.
Married days survived; 344