Guide to Florianopolis: Style & Surfing
With its balmy climate, beautiful beaches and burgeoning IT sector, it's no surprise that Florianopolis attracts everyone from startup millionaires to professional surfers: welcome to the California of Brazil!
Right down in the south of Brazil, Florianopolis consists of one main island (Santa Catarina), part of the mainland and many smaller surrounding islands. The city has garnered many accolades with Brazilian magazine Veja calling it "the best place to live in Brazil" and Newsweek including it in its list of the "top ten most dynamic cities in the world".
With some of Brazil's best beaches, some great nightlife, and the best surfing in South America, although Florianopolis isn't well-known outside of Brazil, perhaps it should be...
Where to Stay in Florianopolis
Canasvieiras and Ingleses in the north of the island are popular with Argentinians, and get very busy with people from Buenos Aires in the busiest months of December and January, but we prefer Cachoeira, just a little further round the coast. It's a bit quieter, the beach is better and the sea is incredibly calm.
If you're keen on surfing then the Atlantic beaches will be the best place to stay: Mole, Campeche and Armação are all beautiful beaches with great waves and some decent accommodation options.
Alternatively, of course, you can stay in the city centre and then just travel out to different beaches every day. That way you benefit from all the facilities of the center but can still enjoy all the beach life.
What to See and Do in Florianopolis
It's no exaggeration to say that life in Florianopolis revolves around the beach, and that's certainly the main reason for visiting. However, it's far from the whole story...
Beaches and Surfing in Florianopolis
Florianopolis has no fewer than 42 beaches, all with their own individual characteristics. You can go sand-boarding on the dunes at Ingleses Beach, relax in the tranquility of Santinho Beach or relax with a spot of fishing at Campeche Beach. Above all else, however, many of Florianopolis' beaches, particularly those facing away from the Atlantic Ocean, are just perfect for sunbathing, swimming and snorkelling, with golden sands and clear warm waters. It's no wonder that people flock here from all over South America...
Meanwhile, if you are at all into surfing then you are spoilt for choice: many of the beaches at Florianopolis offer some superb waves, which is why Florianopolis is the only stop in South America for the Association of Professional Surfers World Tour. It's not all about surfing, however: diving, hang gliding, mountain-biking and para-gliding are all highly popular here in Florianopolis.
Taking it Easy...
With so many activities on offer you might also need a chance to relax and to regain your energy, so it's handy that Florianopolis has its very own hot springs on tap. Indeed those staying in the Caldas da Imperatriz district may even find that their hotel has their own private thermal bath facilities.
Elsewhere, the southern half of Santa Catarina island has managed to retain its historic charm, and villages immersed in tradition and history such as Santo Antônio de Lisboa and Ribeirão da Ilha offer a chance to step out of the rat race and back in time. The traditional fishing boats and lacemakers, the folklore, the cuisine and the colonial architecture all entice people to this tranquil, relaxed half of the island.
Wildlife in Florianopolis
During the winter months you can make your way to Barra da Lagoa beach, where penguins can often be seen swimming, but some of Florianopolis' biggest attractions are quite literally bigger than that: the city is the best place in Brazil for watching the annual migration of Southern Right Whales as they head up from the Antarctic to breed in the warmer waters of the Atlantic.
From July to November, you can head offshore in special boats to enjoy the amazing spectacle of these enormous beasts as they breach the surface to take in air. Getting up close to the whales as they leap above the waves is a truly amazing spectacle.
Travel To and From Florianopolis
You can't fly direct to Florianopolis from the UK, but most major Brazilian destinations are covered, along with regular flights to Buenos Aires and seasonal flights to other cities in Argentina and Chile.
Florianopolis has good road connections up and down the coast, and also inland to the city of Curitiba, from where you can fly on to destinations like Iguazu Falls and the Pantanal.
Transport Within Florianopolis
Public transport within Florianopolis consists of a good but sometimes confusing bus network, and a large number of cheap and well-regulated taxis. Unless your Portuguese is pretty decent, we'd recommend sticking to the taxis!
Weather in Florianopolis
Florianopolis is almost as far south as you can go in Brazil, and that means that they actually have a winter! Between roughly April and October, it's really not beaach weather and so although there are other attractions (like the annual whale-watching) this isn't the best time to visit Florianopolis.
Although temperatures are at their highest from November to March, you can get quite a lot of rain (warm, tropical rain but still...) towards the end of that period, so we'd say November or December are the perfect months for Florianopolis.