Category: Brazil

Florianopolis, Brazil

A- Overview:
Imagine the majestic beauty of alpine Bavaria placed by a tropical bay and you will have an accurate image of Florianopolis. The capital of Santa Catarina state, the city is divided into two parts: The mainland and the island. The mainland is mostly industrial, but the scenic spots are on the island: attractive colonial buildings, 400-year-old forts, baroque churches and the best surfing in Brazil (on the eastern coast of the island). Florianopolis’ nightlife is exciting, and the bierhalls are popular meeting spots (the city produces some of Brazil’s best in its Santa Catarina Beer. Fine wine is another product of the region, and its grapes are known for their excellent quality. Nearby, at Camboriu, there are resorts and casinos.

Florianópolis, (also known as Floripa) is a city in southeastern Brazil, and the capital of the seaport on Santa Catarina Island known as the state of Santa Catarina. The longest suspension bridge in Brazil, the Hercilio Luz Bridge. connects the island to the mainland. Situated in a rich farming region, the city is a commercial and cultural center. The Federal University of Santa Catarina and the University for the Development of Santa Catarina State are both located there. Founded about 1700, the city received its present name in 1893.

Floripa is 480 miles southwest of Rio de Janeiro. Over the last few years it has become one of the most visited destinations in Brazil, for visitors seeking superb beaches, beautiful scenery, interesting culture, and friendly people. It is also in the midst of a real estate boom, with Brazilians, especially from São Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul estates, looking for a better living situation away from the chaos of the big cities.

Smaller islands with forts, which protected ships in the 17th century, surround it. Most of the population lives in the island’s northern half. The southern sector is more isolated and less developed. Though originally settled by the Portuguese (from the Islands of Açores), like the rest of Brazil, the city has a strong German and Italian influence. Florianópolis has long been a popular destination for South American tourists, because of its location and its picture perfect white sand beaches.

Today Florianopolis is a busy commercial center. Industries produce metallurgical and electrical communications equipment, pharmaceuticals, plastics, and perfume. The area around Lagoa has a reputation for some of the best seafood restaurants in the world.

Three bridges link the island to the continent but at present only two are in use. Hercílio Luz Bridge, the city’s best-known landmark, is temporarily closed for renovations. The northern beach resorts, such as Canasvieiras and Ingleses are busy during the summer months and provide many hotels, restaurants and other conveniences for seasonal visitors.

Eastern beaches, such as Joaquina, Mole and Moçambique are the best surfing beaches and are popular with young adults. Other beaches to the south include Campeche, Armação and Morro das Pedras, which are also very beautiful.

The isolated and unspoiled beaches of Lagoinha do Leste and Naufragados can be found at the southern end of the island and are reached only by hiking trails. The Conceição lagoon is a famous natural attraction, and features many entertainment options along its main strip. Peri Lagoon is quiet and serene and is perfect for nature walks. Among the historical highlights are the maritime forts of Santa Cruz de Anhatomirim and Santo Antônio de Ratones.

There are archeological sites with samples of ancient Rock Art. There are remnants of colonial villages, the City Centre with its historical buildings, and of course the city’s trademark, Hercílio Luz bridge.

There are hot springs, mountains, waterfalls, endless white sand beaches, clear, cool highland streams, and year round sports. The food is exceptional; the nightlife is superb. The weather is warm and the island is welcoming. What better place could there be to spend a winter or summer vacation?

B- City Information:
C- Attractions/Things To Do:

Beaches

It had been thought that Florianópolis had 42 beaches. For decades, this was one of the slogans of the city. However, when FUI ( Florianópolis Urban Institute) conducted a survey of the beaches of the state capital, more than 100 beaches were found.

The beaches are divided into 8 groups according to their location: Northern beaches, Eastern beaches, Southern beaches, Northern bay, Southern bay, Continent, the Neighboring islands and the Lagoons. The beaches facing the northern bay have calm sea with few waves. The ones Facing the east side (ocean side) have constant waves. The sand is usually white and fine, Shells, dunes, and bushy vegetation are common, with occasional little estuaries.

Lagoons

Lagoons are usually salt water lakes separated from the sea by an area of rock or sand. Conceição Lagoon is the largest one, connected with the sea by a canal. Peri lagoon is in fact a fresh water lake above sea level surrounded by native Atlantic forest.

Islands

Santa Catarina Island is surrounded by 38 small islands some of which can be visited on day trips, such as Campeche Island: to visit the archeological sites and enjoy the beautiful beach; Ratones and Anhatomirim Islands: to visit the forts.

Some small islands have diving spots: Aranhas and Xavier islands, but the best diving conditions are to the north at Arvoredo Island.

Dunes

Sand dunes cover large areas in the North ( Ingleses and Santinho) , Conceição Lagoon, Campeche, Armação and Pântano do Sul.
In Joaquina, the dunes are popular for the sport of sand boarding, which is a tropical version of snowboarding.

Museums

The city has few Museums, but has a wealth of open-air sites such as the forts, Azorean villages, and rock art archaeological sites.
The Historical Museum of Santa Catarina in the centre is a neo classical building displays collections of state history.

Rock Art

The main archeological sites containing rock art can be found at Ingleses beach, Santinho beach and Campeche Island. The oldest is about 4500 years of age.
The petroglyphs follow geometric patterns: concentric circles, zigzag parallel lines and some of them contain anthropomorphic figures. The patterns depicted are many and varied.
Campeche Island, in particular, has the largest concentration of sites with a total of 167 inscriptions and many more expected to be found.

Forts

During the 16th and 17th centuries, Portugal and Spain fought each other for control of South America. In 1680, the Portuguese founded Colônia do Sacramento, at Rio Prata (Silver River) Delta, a strategic location for gold, silver and cattle trading. The Spanish considered this a violation of the Tordesilhas Treaty (which stipulated that the New Land was to be divided between Portugal and Spain). Battles continued over the years causing Portugal to establish a military settlement in the region.

Santa Catarina Island was chosen as the site of the military post and fort for 2 reasons: its strategic position and its protected bays. In 1739, a defensive triangle fortification in the Northern bay was begun. São José da Ponta Grossa, Santa Cruz and Santo Antônio Forts were built. Over the years, a total of 11 forts were constructed.

Even so, on the 23rd of February, 1777, a navy of 100 ships with 12,000 men, commanded by Spanish Dom Pedro Cevallos took the island without resistance. The island was returned a year later with the Santo Idelfonso Treat. By then, the defense system had lost its credibility and was abandoned. Restored in 1989 as an initiative of the state government and local institutions, the forts have become a major area attraction.

Outdoor Activities

Canoeing

There are many interesting canoeing possibilities all over the island. The best time to take advantage of these is usually in the morning when the breezes are gentle. The Northern bay has protected waters and stunning views. Conceição Lagoon is popular, but be aware of fast boats and jets skis. Peri Lagoon is located in a preservation area, where motor sports are prohibited so canoeing becomes a magical experience. It is quite easy to find canoes or kayaks for hire.

Hawaiian Canoeing on Conceição lagoon offers an interesting option for up to 6 rowers.

Diving

The best dive conditions are during the summer from December to April, when the water is clear and on good days you can have 10 to 15 metres visibility.

The best dive sites can be found at the Arvoredo Marine reserve. It is a group of islands located north of the northern beaches. There is a great concentration of marine life including sea turtles, groupers, moray eels, angel fish, seahorses and many colorful fish . At present, most of the reserve is closed to diving. Diving is allowed only at the southern end of Arvoredo Island.
The islands of Aranhas and Xavier also have diving spots.

Good snorkelling can be found at Campeche Island and at some protected points on the headlands.

Hiking

One of the best and least expensive ways to explore the natural beauty of the island is hiking some of the many nature trails.
Some follow the coast line along promontories and cliff sides: for example, the Santinho-Moçambique and the Matadeiro –Lagoinha do Leste trails.
Other trails are more demanding, going uphill but revealing wonderful views: such as the Morro das Aranhas and Morro da Galheta trails.
On Campeche Island you can hike and explore the archaeological sites with the assistance of local guides.
On the Naufragados beach trail, it is possible to travel either way by boat.

On most of the trails, it is easy to find your way but be cautious entering unclear trails and sea cliffs.

Paragliding & Hang Gliding

The island’s geography provides great flying sites everywhere except in the south where flying is not allowed due to the airport traffic. The best season is summer when the sea breezes are constant.

The hills on both sides of Mole beach are the most popular take-offs (SW, NE and E winds) allowing great soaring. The best flying site is Rio Vermelho where great thermals combine with soaring (E winds).

Brava beach is also popular but there are many buildings between the hills and the beach.
During the summer, Praia Mole is crowded, so it is best to fly on weekdays after 12:00 noon when the wind direction has been defined or later in the day before sunset (in summertime there is light until 20:00.

Hang gliding is not as popular as paragliding. One of the reasons might be the difficult access to take-offs. The take-off near the west outlook on Conceição Lagoon, is the best one for hang gliders.
Near the town of Santo Amaro da Imperatriz, 35 km from Florianópolis, at the foothills of Serra do Tabuleiro Estate Park is the best thermal flying in the region for reaching great heights and for distance flying triangles.

Surfing

Floripa has some of the most consistent surf in Brazil. The bigger swells come from the Southern Atlantic and Antarctica. During the summer, it receives many swells from the north, and during the rest of the year from the south (Antarctica). May through October is usually the best time.
Joaquina beach is the most consistently popular spot on the island.

The Campeche beach, in perfect conditions, is a world class wave.
Other great spots are: Moçambique and Lagoinha do Leste to avoid crowds; and Mole beach for the annual Obongo Pro Surfing. Barra da Lagoa beach is a great spot to learn to surf and is recommended for beginners.

Kite & Windsurfing

Conceição Lagoon is the main location for windsurfers and kite surfers because of its consistent winds, large area, sandbanks for beginners and good facilities.

The waves at Mole and Moçambique are also popular as the location of the ongoing competitions of the local surfing crowd.

D- Family Fun Attractions:
Family Activities

Canoeing

There are many interesting canoeing possibilities all over the island. The best time to take advantage of these is usually in the morning when the breezes are gentle. The Northern bay has protected waters and stunning views. Conceição Lagoon is popular, but be aware of fast boats and jets skis. Peri Lagoon is located in a preservation area, where motor sports are prohibited so canoeing becomes a magical experience. It is quite easy to find canoes or kayaks for hire.

Good snorkelling can be found at Campeche Island and at some protected points on the headlands.

Hiking

One of the best ways to explore the natural beauty of the island is hiking some of the many nature trails.
Some follow the coast line along promontories and cliff sides: for example, the Santinho-Moçambique and the Matadeiro –Lagoinha do Leste trails.
Other trails are more demanding, going uphill but revealing wonderful views: such as the Morro das Aranhas and Morro da Galheta trails.
On Campeche Island you can hike and explore the archaeological sites with the assistance of local guides.
On the Naufragados beach trail, it is possible to travel either way by boat.

On most of the trails, it is easy to find your way but be cautious entering unclear trails and sea cliffs.

Rock Art

The main archeological sites containing rock art can be found at Ingleses beach, Santinho beach and Campeche Island. The oldest is about 4500 years of age.
The petroglyphs follow geometric patterns: concentric circles, zigzag parallel lines and some of them contain anthropomorphic figures. The patterns depicted are many and varied.
Campeche Island, in particular, has the largest concentration of sites with a total of 167 inscriptions and many more expected to be found.

Forts

During the 16th and 17th centuries, Portugal and Spain fought each other for control of South America. In 1680, the Portuguese founded Colônia do Sacramento, at Rio Prata (Silver River) Delta, a strategic location for gold, silver and cattle trading. The Spanish considered this a violation of the Tordesilhas Treaty (which stipulated that the New Land was to be divided between Portugal and Spain). Battles continued over the years causing Portugal to establish a military settlement in the region.

Santa Catarina Island was chosen as the site of the military post and fort for 2 reasons: its strategic position and its protected bays. In 1739, a defensive triangle fortification in the Northern bay was begun. São José da Ponta Grossa, Santa Cruz and Santo Antônio Forts were built. Over the years, a total of 11 forts were constructed.

Even so, on the 23rd of February, 1777, a navy of 100 ships with 12,000 men, commanded by Spanish Dom Pedro Cevallos took the island without resistance. The island was returned a year later with the Santo Idelfonso Treat. By then, the defense system had lost its credibility and was abandoned. Restored in 1989 as an initiative of the state government and local institutions, the forts have become a major area attraction.

E- Events & Entertainment:

Annual Events

October

Festival of Beer

Blumenau, Santa Catarina

November

Obongo Pro Surfing

Praia Mole, Florianopolis, Competitive surfing is organized by the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) along a two-tier system.

July

Annual Florianopolis Children’s Film Festival

Features, shorts, animation, documentary

July

Annual Dance Festival

Santa Catarina

Joinville. The Festival attracts over 200,000 each year. 140 dance groups, both national and international participate.

Activities and Entertainment

Shopping

Ceramics, embroidery, and “Floripa” stamped t-shirts are the most popular souvenirs.

Ceramics represent figures from local folklore such as Boi de Mamão. They also feature the slogans of the religious parties and the local Azorean people. You can buy the pieces at Casa da Alfândega, next to the public market, and at Casa Açoriana, in Santo Antônio de Lisboa.

Cuisine

Sea food is the base for most of the typical dishes following the traditions of the Portuguese Azorean people who colonized the island.

Shrimp is popular and the standard dish is ” Sequência de Camarão” which is the Shrimp prepared in different styles (steamed, fried, etc.) and served in sequence.

Fish is also popular, cooked in many ways and usually served with rice and Pirão ( a paste made from fish). During winter, the Tainha fish ( Mugil liza), which is similar to striped mullet, is the most popular dish. It is stuffed and then baked.

In Costa da Lagoa there are many waterfront restaurants serving great seafood at relatively low prices, but to get there you need to take a boat from the Lagoa centre marine. Lagoa Azul restaurant is a choice for taste and for value.

On avenida das rendeiras, Lagoa, there are some restaurants that are very popular with tourists: Casa do Chico and others serve the standard local dishes.

Santo Antônio de Lisboa and Sambaqui are good places to have a drink and eat Petiscos (appetizers), while watching the sunset on Northern Bay.

Floripa Oysters are famous and the best restaurants for these can be found at Ribeirão da Ilha Azorean Village.

To sample standard Brazilian food ( rice and beans, pasta, salad, etc), you can eat at restaurants known as KILO, where the food is served buffet style and you pay by the weight of your selections.

Pizza has become as Brazilian as Feijoada! Pizza places are everywhere and many have Rodizios (eat as much as you want and pay one price).

Always popular is Churrasco, the typical Brazilian BBQ.

Nightlife

The main concentration of night clubs, bars and restaurants are in the city centre and Conceição lagoon. During the summer, the northern area also offers a wide choice of nightlife venues.

Security is professionally administered, and everyone is checked before entering a club.

Nightclubs normally charge a cover charge over and above the cost of food and drinks.

A common feature on Friday nights, at various nightclubs is “Ladies Free”, where women don’t pay a cover charge until midnight.

John Bull Pub, located at Avenida das Rendeiras, Conceição Lagoon is a popular live music spot which plays mainly rock and blues. The decor is a rock and blues theme and the atmosphere is casual.

Latidude 27, on the way to Mole beach at the top of the hill is another popular live music venue. It has a mix of contemporary music and a beautiful view of Lagoa at night. Expect crowds where you can barely move.

El Divino Club, the former Cafe Cancun, located at Beira Mar avenue is a traditional nightclub which has different themes and popular live bands. Sophisticated decor.

Ilha dos Cascaez, next to Costão do Santinho is open in the summer only. It features electronic, hip hop and general dance music. Popular on Fridays with Lady’s First theme, where women don’t pay a cover charge until midnight.

For those interesting in FORRÓ, the popular Brazilian dance, La Pedrera in Lagoa is the most popular place.