Want The Best of Brazil? Start in Florianópolis
After Foz de Iguazu, we spent ten days on The Island of Magic (Ilha da Magica), Florianopolis.
Just the right amount of time to start calling it Floripa, like the locals do.
Floripa’s the capital of Santa Catalina, but we skipped the city and headed straight for Lagoa da Conceição, a town that swells as much in peak season as Floripa’s surf beaches all year round.
We arrived in the middle of January, when throngs of thongs were everywhere and all of them were Haviana’s.
Lagoa da Conceição’s right next to a lagoon of the same name, so it’s a popular spot for windsurfers. Theres’s beaches everywhere close by, a dozen bikini shops, cafes, restaurants, chilled out bars and live music venues like Casa de Noca, which was always as full as a good local should be.
The vibes chilled, the seafoods fresh, the weathers good. Mostly. A lot of people (we were included), think Brazils’ weathers always good in summer, but it’s surprisingly rainy too.
When we were there, flooding had caused a slip that blocked off the main road heading to the beaches. Some days the traffic was outrageous. We sat in the back of many a Uber, dampening an already damp backseat with our own wet togs waiting to get home. Uber’s the way to go on the island though, far cheaper than taxi’s.
We stayed at Tucano Hostel, which I’d recommend solely for the owners. Two cute bothers who turned their childhood home into a hostel. There’s a lot to love about Brazil, but number one has to be the people. Brazilians embrace everything. It’s a culture delighted with aesthetics. Boobs and butts can’t be big enough, bikini’s can’t be small enough, men can’t be vocal enough about either. Like acai breakfast bowls, the appreciation of life keeps you coming back for more.
We spent a couple of days in Lagoa da Conceição hitting up every bikini store in town. The selection’s incredible, especially at Hermosa Biquinis. In between stores, we had coffee at Cafe Cultura. Here we discussed two important realisations: The need for a tan and a wax. Bikini shopping in Brazil makes you appreciate why there’s a wax named in their honour.
Our waxing experience was torturous, but we had better luck with our brows. Brows are a big thing in Brazil. Without a word of Portuguese, I felt vulnerable having my Frida Kahlo backpacking brows waxed, but not as vulnerable as I felt seeing them dyed into thick blocks like Ernie from Sesame Street. It took a few days, but they looked incredible once they’d faded.
It’s a good thing that shopping works the appetite because from Foz de Iguazu, the food kept getting better. We found pay-by-the-pound in just about every cuisine. As well as the classic Brazilian buffet (meat, meat and more meat), there were organic vegan buffets and Japanese buffets. Plus, food trucks were open every night. Ha-day would head straight for the vegan burger truck, while I joined the cue for Temaki. As far as Things I Miss Most About Brazil go, temaki’s right up there. Followed by the 100 per cent pure cacao ice cream at Gelato di Panna. The first lick bumped Cartagenas’ creamy cones to second place.
In between meals, or after (whenever really) we’d go for a chilled drink down by the water at Books and Beers. The guy who worked there’d moved to Floripa from Sao Paulo, in search of the laid back lifestyle he couldn’t get in the city.
We always left tipsy with tips we were pretty sure we had right for our next destination, the small fishing village of Barra de Lagoa.