We all know that Brazil is famous for its beaches. But where do you start with finding the best coastal spots to visit? Florianópolis, a city-island in the southern state of Santa Catarina, has a selection of sandy treasures for every kind of beachgoer. We’ve compiled all you need to know about the best Florianópolis beaches, from the busiest tourist and surfing spots to hidden coves and natural swimming pools.
If you’re travelling elsewhere in the region, also check out our guide to the best beaches in South America.
In this article:
Florianópolis beaches: an overview
We traversed Florianópolis for four days and three nights, most of which we spent on the beach. We loved this place, and if you’re into sun, sea and sand, I’m sure you will too!
After hopping around the island, we’ve put together this handy guide to the best beaches in Florianópolis. Whether you’re into busy and active beaches, you’re an avid surfer, or you just want some peace and quiet in a secluded paradise, there’s somewhere here for you. We’ve also thrown in some extra ideas on what to do in Florianópolis, as well as a few tips on Florianópolis safety.
Florianópolis is the name of the big city that covers a large area of Santa Catarina Island. The island, however, is often just referred to as Florianópolis Island. It’s also affectionately known as Floripa, which you’ll see emblazoned on t-shirts, hats and other beach-related paraphernalia.
Florianópolis Island boasts 42 beaches, covering much of the island’s 560 kilometres of coastline. Read on to discover our favourite picks.
When is the best time to visit Florianópolis?
Florianópolis has a subtropical climate that is warm all year round, but much cooler than the tropical beach regions of northern Brazil. The average temperatures range from a high of 26°C in February to a low of 17°C in July.
The hottest months of January, February and March are also those that see the most rainfall. May has the most sunny days, and among the lowest rainfall. Even in peak season, however, the rain usually comes in short spells and is unlikely to cause big disruptions to your beaching.
February tends to be the busiest, as it’s the hottest month and is the time of the Carnival festival. This is the best time for you if you’re looking for action and a party, but better to avoid if you don’t like crowds.
For warm weather, quieter beaches and a lower chance of rain, the shoulder seasons of April–May and September–October are a good option. We visited in October, and managed to hit that dry-and-warm sweet spot.
Best beaches in Florianópolis
Praia dos Ingleses
Praia dos Ingleses is a beach and neighbourhood on the north-east tip of the island, about 30 kilometres by road from downtown Florianópolis. The name translates to “beach of the English”, deriving from a legendary tale of an English shipwreck on the shore.
Ingleses is one of the busiest and most popular beaches on the island, and also one of the best Florianópolis surf spots. The western stretch of the beach is particularly endowed with strong waves.
If you’re somewhat of an adrenaline junkie, Praia dos Ingleses is also a great place to try your hand at sandboarding. The beach has some of the largest sand dunes on the island.
The Ingleses neighbourhood has some of the most built-up infrastructure on the island. There’s plenty of shops, hostels, restaurants, bars and clubs all within close reach.
We spent most of our time at Praia dos Ingleses along the busy central stretch of the beach. Around lunchtime, seafront restaurants compete to attract diners – we got an awesome deal on a giant seafood platter. With Brazilian beers to wash it down, of course!
You will find various pop-up stalls selling beachwear dotted around the beachfront. We had fun bartering with a local vendor to buy a pashmina for Lisa. To get around the language barrier, you can simply carve numbers into the sand.
Praia do Santinho
Around the headland to the east of Ingleses is a beach that’s just as beautiful but much quieter: Praia do Santinho. It’s easy to walk between the two beaches over the dunes to the east of Ingleses and the north end of Santinho.
The south of the beach is the most tourist-populated part, near the popular Costão do Santinho Resort. At the main beach entrance here you can buy giant coconuts with straws.
As with all beaches on the east side of Florianópolis Island, the sunrises are great at Santinho. It’s nice to go for a swim or a run just before sunset too, with the day’s fading light glowing on the waves. The beach’s hard sand surface is perfect for jogging.
We chose to camp during our stay in the area. Casarão is a great little campsite and hostel just up from the main beach entrance, at the junction with the main road, Vereador Onildo Lemos. The owners are very welcoming, and there are very good facilities on site, including hot showers and a fully-equipped kitchen.
Praia da Barra da Lagoa
Further down the island’s east side, Barra da Lagoa is a highly popular beach spot that has built up around a traditional fishing village. Praia da Barra da Lagoa is located at the bottom of a 14-kilometre stretch of sand, which includes Praia do Moçambique to the north, the island’s longest beach.
Barra da Lagoa is one of the easiest beaches to reach, located in the middle of the island and a short drive or bus ride from the popular lakeside neighbourhood Lagoa da Conceição. It’s about 15 kilometres by road from downtown Florianópolis.
The beach’s main stretch is packed with shops and restaurants, with tables, chairs and colourful parasols spilling out onto the sand. At the south of the beach, the canal is a pretty place to stroll around.
The village of Barra da Lagoa is home to TAMAR, a turtle rescue sanctuary protection centre. For an entrance fee of 15 reais you can learn about the protected species, see the observation tanks and take a guided tour. Find out more here.
Prainha da Barra (hidden beach)
If you take the Ponte Pênsil bridge across the canal, turn left and follow the path, you will soon reach Prainha de Barra, the ‘small beach of Barra’. This is a beautiful secluded spot of golden sand, clear blue-green waters and very few people. If you like to sunbathe in some privacy, it’s one of the best Florianópolis beaches off the beaten track.
If you turn right instead of left after crossing the bridge, you will find the starting point of a 3.5-kilometre hiking trail to Praia Galheta (more on that below).
Piscinas Naturais (natural swimming pools)
If you continue on the path to the rear of Prainha da Barra, and then follow it around the coastline, after half a kilometre or so you will reach Piscinas Naturais. These natural swimming pools are our favourite spot on Florianópolis.
The pools are created by an inlet of rock, which creates a protected area of shallow, calm water. As you descend to it on the path, there’s a stunning view along the coastline.
The rocks around the pools can be slippy, so take your time and be careful getting in and out. The rocky inlet makes for an awesome natural diving board when the tide is high, although we’d recommend not going in head-first.
Check out the Piscinas Naturais Facebook page for a really cool video of the spot.
Further still down the east side of the island, Praia Galheta is a secluded beach that is accessible only by foot. We did the trail from the Barra da Lagoa side, which takes 1–2 hours, but it’s much quicker to reach from Praia Mole to the south.
The Barra–Galheta route is a great option if you’re into hiking. It’s full of scenic ocean views, and from the highest point you can see out across the island. Be aware that it’s quite a physical hike with a fair amount of climbing involved.
Praia Galheta has water supply and in peak summer season there are some refreshment stands, but it’s still a good idea to bring your own food and drink whatever time of year.
The path to Galheta from Praia Mole is a much shorter one that takes no longer than 15 minutes. If you’re up for some extreme beach-hopping, you could try traversing Barra da Lagoa, Prainha Barra, Galheta and Mole in a single day!
To avoid any surprises when you arrive: Galheta is a nude-optional beach.
Praia Mole is perhaps the premium Florianópolis surf location, highly reputed for its swell. The beach hosted World Surf League championships in 2009 and 2015, and is a favourite among the local surfing crowd. There are plenty of options for hiring a board if you want to give it a try.
Praia Mole is in close proximity to Lagoa da Conceição, and around 11 kilometres from Florianópolis city. It’s one of the island’s smaller beaches, stretching about a kilometre in length. Its boundaries are defined by two giant rocks protruding from either end of the beach: the Dragon and the Indian.
Mole is one of the busier beaches on the island, usually packed out with parasols. This is also one of the best spots to sample Florianópolis nightlife, with a cluster of bars buzzing with activity all year round.
Praia do Campeche
Praia do Campeche is a long and spacious beach towards the south of the island. This might be your best option if you prefer not to be competing for space on the sand.
Popular among young beach-goers, Campeche is a great choice for surfing, with several kilometres of uncrowded shoreline and typically fierce waves.
Ilha do Campeche
One of the big draws of Praia do Campeche is the option to take a boat trip to the nearby island of the same name. The boat to the island takes just five minutes from the beach and costs 50 reais, which you need to pay in cash.
While the waters on the eastern-facing Florianópolis beaches are usually choppy, Ilha do Campeche has a western-facing beach that is protected from the ocean winds, creating a much calmer spot for swimming and bathing. The tranquil green waters on these shores make for one of the most idyllic and Instagram-worthy spots around Florianópolis.
Ilha do Campeche is a top place for scuba divers visiting Florianópolis. There is a rich diversity of marine life surrounding the island waiting to be explored. Snorkel hire is also available if you’re not qualified for scuba.
The east side of Ilha do Campeche is considered the most important archaeological site of Florianópolis. On the rocks you can see inscriptions made by indigenous tribes over 5,000 years ago.
There are two restaurants on the mini-island, both of which are expensive; it’s best to bring your own food and drinks to keep costs down.
Praia Lagoinha do Leste
Praia Lagoinha do Leste is an absolutely gorgeous stretch of sand occupying a concealed cove in the headland on the far southeastern tip of Florianópolis Island. The crescent-shaped beach offers pristine golden sands sheltered by vegetation-thick mountains.
Rated by Business Insider as one of the best beaches in Brazil, Lagoinha do Leste is accessible only by foot or boat. Due to its isolated nature, it is one of the most sparsely populated coastal spots around Florianópolis.
There are two hiking trails to reach it: one from Praia do Matadeiro to the north (about 4km / 2–2.5 hours), and another from Pântano do Sul to the west (about 2.5km / 1–1.5 hours). The views of the beach are fabulous from either side, so it’s worth considering entering by one trail and leaving by the other.
The boat journey from Pântano do Sul costs around 40–50 reais per person, and only runs depending on the ocean conditions.
Praia Lagoinha do Leste itself is surrounded by Atlantic forest and features a large lagoon inland from the shore. It’s the perfect place for uncrowded relaxation.
Other things to do in Florianópolis
Lagoa da Conceição
Lagoa da Conceição is a huge lagoon that lies within the main Florianópolis island of Santa Catarina. A district of the same name nestles on the edge of the lagoon, at the very centre of the island.
This district is the ideal place to stay if you have a few days in Florianópolis and want to get around to several of the beaches. It’s the perfect pivot point, while providing a scenic setting with plenty of amenities.
Lagoa da Conceição has a great selection of restaurants and shops. Every weekend an art and craft market is held in the main square by the bridge.
During the daytime there is a good choice of lake activities, including kayaking, sailing and paddle-boarding. When the sun sets, people gather on the grassy shores to drink, socialise and play music. We loved walking along and soaking up this warm evening atmosphere.
Florianópolis is well known for its party scene. The city centre is the place to be for authentic Brazilian music nights, including samba, sertaneja and forró.
For the beach party scene, the north of the island is where it’s at. The beach neighbourhood of Jurerê is home to the island’s most legendary nightclubs. Chief among these is P12, where the likes of David Guetta and Jason Mraz rank among past performers.
While we were hanging out at Praia do Santinho, we couldn’t help but notice the regular stream of paragliders drifting over the water. Praia Mole is another top location for it.
Paragliding is one of the top things to do in Florianópolis for a dose of adrenaline. At the same time, it provides unrivalled views across the island and out onto the ocean.
We’ve already highlighted some of the spectacular coastal hikes around Florianópolis, such as the trails to Galheta and Lagoinha do Leste. Santa Catarina Island also has a choice of inland hiking trails.
Our two best picks are Trilha Costa da Lagoa around the western coast of Lagoa da Conceição, and Trilha do Poção Córrego Grande, a waterfall and hidden pool trail located just south of the city centre.
How to get around Florianópolis
While Florianópolis has a bus system connecting the city with most of the districts and beaches around the island, we found it to be unreliable and difficult to use. Services are irregular and usually take a long time, making several stops along the way.
Uber, although more expensive, is a much easier way to get around. Car hire is an even more convenient option, although pricier still.
The road infrastructure is pillared by a single main road that circles around the edge of the island. The traffic along it can get very busy, especially during peak summer season.
Florianópolis safety tips
Florianópolis is generally a safe place to visit. The city has the third-highest Human Development Index score in Brazil, and one of the lowest crime rates. It does not hold the dangerous reputation associated with some other tourist destinations in the country.
As with any destination though, it’s best to exercise caution. Be careful with your belongings on the beach and avoid leaving valuables unguarded when you go into the sea.
In the city centre and the busy districts along the north of the island, it’s best to avoid walking around late at night, especially away from the main well-lit areas.
Map of Florianópolis beaches
This map shows the locations of the beaches and activities highlighted in this article:
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