Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Florianopolis, Brazil Feb 5th-Feb 9th, 2011

Culture: It is a very laid back beach area. It is somewhat similar in comparison to how South Beach, Florida is to the United States. This is at the top of the price chain as far as prices in Brazil go, and is a popular destination for those traveling. They have the Lagoa de Conceicao (Middle) where I stayed by, as well as Jurere (North). They also have a fairly large city, but this is not frequented much by tourists. In Jurere, you will find your chic clubs that cater to the wealthy, most notably P12. This area is much safer than the big cities, I would not recommend walking around alone at night, but you should be just fine doing so. You can also take your cameras to the beach with much less fear of someone stealing it (in Rio de Janeiro it would be gone instantly). This is also the case for carrying them in public, people in Rio would just steal them from you, but here it is fine to carry for pictures/videos.

In red is where I stayed

Religion: Over 70% are Roman Catholic

Language: Portuguese, it is a more complex version of Spanish basically. Due to this, those who speak Spanish cannot understand Portuguese, but those who speak Portuguese can understand Spanish since it is simpler. Almost all of South America speaks Spanish, except for Brazil, so I’d highly recommend learning Spanish for the trip, as it would be the most beneficial, and if time permitted to begin learning Portuguese. It is very, very hard to communicate in towns without the knowledge of Portuguese or Spanish, so do your studying ahead of time. Otherwise, you will feel very lost and somewhat outcast, even when trying to get food.

It is best to try and learn the basic verbs and build on from there. You can say “Como voce fala (como vo-say fala) to ask how to say something.

Transportation: Cars are the main transportation here, while many locals ride motorcycles as well. Renting a motorbike is too expensive for tourists compared to the buses, which run around $3 Reais, which is about $2 USD. These run back and forth from Barra de Lagoa to Lagoa de Conceicao, and are the main modes of transportation. Even though it is a beach area, you still need a shirt to board the bus, so make sure to bring one with you. It is best to just take taxis when in a rush, or when it is late at night, as they are quite pricey in comparison to the buses. I also arrived via flight from JFK in New York for $650 for a one way ticket. When I landed, it was about a $30 USD cab ride to the hostel, but you can take a bus for a few dollars.

Population: 1,000,000 in the main city, but it is not crowded at all in Logoa which is separate

Currency: Reai (Ray-eye). It is currently trading at 1.67 Reai to $1 USD.

Place Stayed at: Backpackers Sunset. It was a great hostel set in Lagoa between Lagoa de Conceicao and Barra de Lagoa. The view was fantastic overlooking Lagoa de Conceicao, with great sunsets in the evening. The hostel holds about 50 people, and has a good social atmosphere. You will find quite a mix of different people here. Also, the hostel sets up nightlife for each evening, as well as some day trips, which make it much easier to figure out what to do. They also get discounts on the covers, which can be very expensive here. Breakfast is free and served 8am-10am, with a small selection to choose from. The rooms are comfortable as far as hostels go, with privates as well as dorms. The showers were decent, but sometimes lacked hot water. The hostel also has a tiny pool down bottom to relax in. The steps are pretty annoying here when going from your room to the lobby, but not too big of a hassle. There is a common television area where people congregated, as well as a bar that has a great view of the lake. Each evening before sunset, everyone gets a Caiprinha, which is a soury mixed drink that is the big drink nationally. Happy hour runs from 830pm-10pm, but is nothing to special, it is basically like 1 Reai off 2 drinks. After happy hour, the people go out usually. The hostel also hosts dinner each evening for about 15 Reai on average, which is reasonable and convenient. The main down side to this hostel is it’s location for food. It is a 15-20 minute walk to the nearest food, so eat up while you can, and try to sneak in some snacks for late night. You can’t have it all, and this spot has a location close to Praia Mole, which is the best beach in this area, so it is a trade off on what is most important to you. The hostel also had two computers for those who don’t travel with a laptop. This is one of the most highly recommended hostels, along with Barra Beach Backpackers.

Entrance to the hostel

My hostel room, my bed on the left. There were three of us.

The view from my balcony, I am just listening to music relaxing.

The view from the bar area, it was a real relaxing spot to chill

Another view from the bar, the closest I got to having my camera at sunset

Beaches: Be very careful, the current is much stronger here than in the United States. I am a strong swimmer, and it was extremely difficult for me to swim out at all. Also, the waves are more frequent and can be tough to deal with. Finally, the water was very cold, but I enjoyed it anyhow, just jump in.

1) Praia Mole - It is close to Lagoa and a 3 minute walk from Backpackers Sunset hostel. It is directly between Barra de Lagoa and Lagoa de Conceicao. The water is clear, and this is regarded as the nicest beach in the area. The better looking crowd seems to end up here. On the right end it is quiet and a relaxing area if you like that. You can also head to the center where it is rather busy. People surf here, but it is not the main surf destination.

The less packed side

Myself heading to lie down and get burnt.

The crowded area

The water was not to blue. Apparently it changes often though, and is a lot better at times.

2) Barra da Lagoa - This beach is very packed and crammed. It is not a surfing area either. This is a place to go to see the culture some more, and if you like crowded areas. This area has quite a few shops and restaurants, although they are expensive. When you take the bus, it takes you almost directly to the beach. There is also a volleyball game and soccer game running at all times, if you enjoy that. At the bus stop, if you walk over the bridge instead of to the beach, and turn left at the end, you will wind up at a more secluded beach, which I recommend seeing. Lastly, the cheapest food place I found was right next to the bus stop, with very reasonable prices. The burgers are very thin though, unlike American burgers. The cappuccino here was also very good, with a cinnamon flavor.

3) Joaquina - The surfing beach, also within walking distance from the hostel I stayed at. I am not a surfer though, so I did not venture here.

The entrance to Joaquina, I am the one on the hill.

4) Lagoa de Conceicao - This is a lake which seemed rather dirty to me. Kids swim in it, but I would not recommend it.

Leaving town, a view of the lake from the other side

The water in the lake, too dirty to swim in imo

Food: There are a ton of seafood restaurants in Lagoa de Conceicao. Also, there are empanadas sold at a decent amount of places for a quick food. An empanada is basically fried bread typically with meat inside of it, although it is possible to get some stuff without meat. Sit down restaurants are expensive for those on a budget, and typically run about $40 USD for 2 people at a middle scale place. To stay on a budget, it is best to find smaller places that are not real sit down places. A good price is if you pay about $8 USD per person, anything else is a great bargain. In Lagoa de Conceicao there is a Subway and a Pizza place, for those looking for cheaper American food, although I didn’t know about this until the day I was leaving.

Chicken Parm, it had ham on it which was strange to me. They also served it with fries and a bean soup which I am not used to.

Beer/Drinks: Skol seems to be the most common beer. Other options are Antartica, Brahma, Sol(different than Sol in US), and Summer. They do not have light beers, sorry. The Caipirinha is the most common drink of choice here, and is sometimes very sour, definitely try it though.

Entertainment: The beaches are popular for the day, and some bars to drink at night. The best nightlife is in Jurere, with the best party being P12, which is a beach/pool party similar to a party like Rehab in Las Vegas. I missed the party as we were very tired since we just arrived. Flo Rida was actually playing there a few days after I left. The covers are expensive, as well as cab fares. In Lagoa de Conceicao, it appeared online that is had good nightlife, but I did not experience this. I went to Black Swan to watch the Super Bowl, which is an American owned bar. The owner is an man about 60 with gray hair named Simon if you need someone that speaks English. There is a place called Confrari das Artes that is supposed to be good on Thursdays, but I did not get to this either since I wasn’t in town on a Thursday. We also went to Forza Joaquina which was a samba club outside of Joaquina beach near nothing. It was tiny, and you could not move much. Samba is a fast paced slow dance if that makes sense where they basically just move their feet fast and waist fast. I did not attempt this, but it appears much easier than American dancing.

Inside Black Swan, nothing special

P12 w/ Flo Rida

Internet: The hostel had internet, and I believe cafes had them as well, although I did not see many of them. The hostels internet was rather spotty, and I lost connections to my games some. Also, the download/upload speed was very poor, taking me about 2 minutes per photo I wanted to upload to the internet.

Sites to See/What to do: The beaches, as well as making it to a club in Jurere. There is a view point near where my hostel was that is good for a drink or some photos.

View point, Lagoa de Conceicao in the background

Recommendations: There is no need to stay in a hotel here, so go hostel all the way. If you want beach scenery, stay in Lagoa de Conceicao or nearby. If you like chic expensive nightlife, than stay north in Jurere. There are not historical sites to see, so I moved on from here fast, it is just a place to relax on the beaches, which were nothing special at all compared to other places I’ve seen.

Other Pics:

Leaving for the airport on Feb 4th. There was about 2 feet of snow accumulated over the past week.

Cool sign, appears I should have already bought sunglasses.

The biggest spider I’ve ever seen in the open. It was about 4 inches long, and very hidden off to the right, so I’m not sure how I spotted him.

Romy and I, he was one of my bunk mates. He was from Montreal, but also spoke fluent Portuguese.

Dogs available for adoption at the shelter

Money exchange place

Rating: 6/10, it was hyped up to be very nice, but it was basically just expensive places and decent beaches. I have no desire to go back.



  1. Argentine restaurants were notorious for adding ham to every single dish. It was truly disgusting, and I haven't had a bite of ham since returning to the States. The beer scene in South America is pretty depressing, but of all the crappy beer, Quilmes was the least offensive and surprisingly refreshing. Caipirinha's are definitely the way to go.

  2. Ahh, I like the Caip, in South America they don't have light beer either which is not cool. I'll have to figure out how to say no ham.

  3. Nice write up, never been to that area. But dude, all the main beers in Brazil are super light on their own (and delicious imo), having Skol light would be maddness. I've never looked up carb/calories or anything on them, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were similar to the American light beers in those numbers.

  4. o awesome, yeah since they don't say light I just assume they aren't, good shit, was thinking that they weren't crazy hard to put back a bunch of so that makes sense