Dec 18, 2008

Florianópolis, Santa Catarina: best beaches and hotspots

The beaches of Florianópolis – an island-city an hour’s flight South of São Paulo – are famous for the high quotient of gorgeous blonde, olive-skinned beauties of German or Italian descent. Add to the eye candy the big waves (the city hosts the Brazilian leg of the world surfing championship), lush forests, clean and safe streets and great seafood, and you’ll understand why many São Paulo jetsetters have chosen to summer or live here.

Gisele Bündchen flies in often, and has been spotted at the boutique and café Guga Kuerten, opened by the eponymous tennis champ, three-time French Open winner. By day, pretty young things like
model-turned-TV hostess Maryeva Oliveira suntan at Brava beach, moving on to neighbouring Jurerê Internacional for the après-beach or dinner at the loungey Pimenta e Limão, owned by top local chef Zeca d’Acampora.

Another celeb fave on Jurerê is El Divino Beach, where bronzed bodies cozy up on beachside couches, caipirinhas in hand. By night it turns into a club, but most other action moves downtown.

High-end shops and eateries, such as the popular Um Lugar, specializing in shellfish, cluster around the Lagoa da Conceição. Favourite hangout of the thirty-something set, Confraria das Artes unites restaurant, lounge and shops under the same roof – with dancing on weekends.

Literary types like novelist Mário Prata prefer the laid-back feel and the freshly-fried shrimp and fish at Box 32, the perennially-packed bar at the 1898-built public market.

Chosen by Brazillians year-in, year-out, as the country’s favourite city for its safety, abudant green and gorgeous beaches (42 in all), Florianópolis is linked to the mainland by a single suspension bridge. Downtown, tropical forest encroaches on skyscrapers, and high-end shops and eateries cluster around the Lagoa. Favourite hangout of the style-conscious set, Confraria das Artes unites restaurant, lounge and shops under the same roof – with dancing on weekends.

Box 32: Mercado Público Municipal, Centro Histórico, Tel: (48) 3224-5588
Confraria das Artes: rua João Pacheco Costa, 31, Lagoa, tel. (48) 3232-2298
Guga Kuerten: Rua Bocaiúva, 2198, Centro, tel. (48) 3333-0900
El Divino Beach: Avenida dos Pampos, Jurerê Internacional, tel. (48) 3282-1816
Pimenta e Limão: rua Bocaiúva, 2304, Hotel Blue Tree Towers, tel. (48) 3251-5548
Um lugar: Rua Jornalista Jaime de Arruda Ramos, 1850, next to the Lagoinha hotel, Ponta das Canas, tel. (48) 3284-1226

Practical information:
During summer (December through March), temperatures reach 40ºC / 104 F, and that’s when it rains the most. That's also when hotel rates go way up - especially between Christmas and New Year's, the busiest time of year. It's best to visit in spring or fall instead.

The International Airport is at the Southern tip of Santa Catarina Island, about 13km from downtown.

Florianópolis boasts more than 80km of hiking trails, althought they’re not well marked, so it’s always best to hire a private guide.

For more information, you can visit the English website of the local tourism board.

Photos and map: courtesy of Prefeitura de Florianópolis

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