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Brazil Surfing FAQ's

Where is Florianopolis located and how do I get there?

Florianopolis is the capital of Santa Catarina, one of the richest per capita states in all of Brazil, and is located in the southern region of the country. It can be reached in approximately 1 hour by plane from São Paulo and 2 hours from Rio de Janeiro.

Arriving in Florianopolis from the U.S. or Europe is quite simple – a connection is made in São Paulo's international airport (code: GRU) with a second leg available directly to Florianopolis' own international airport (code: FLN). There are direct flights to São Paulo from most major international cities.

For promotional discounted airfare and the most direct itineraries available to Brazil, feel free to contact our Brazil travel specialist at travel@nexussurf.com.


Are there any special travel requirements traveling to Brazil?

Yes. U.S. and Australian citizens, for example, must have a valid tourist visa to enter Brazil. For a complete list of countries whose citizens do not need tourist visas to enter Brazil, click here. Processing may take up to 10 business days to complete, so make sure to apply early to avoid any last minute complications. If you live in or near a city where there is a Brazilian Consulate (in the U.S.: Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Miami, Houston, Washington D.C., Chicago and Boston), you may apply in person. If not, or if you can't get away to during the day to drop off your application, there are a number of third-party services specializing in Visa processing (see below). 

Each Brazilian Consulate has its own website that provides more information on what is required for processing the Visa application at that particular location. Below, for example, is the link for the Los Angeles Consulate:

www.brazilian-consulate.org (see links under “Visas” on right hand side)

There are also third-party services which can process your tourist Visa, including:

www.peninsulavisaandpassport.com

www.visahq.com


I have heard talk about Brazil being dangerous, is Florianopolis safe?

Yes. While no place in the world is unfortunately 100% free of crime these days, Florianopolis is about as safe a city as they come. The bad rap Brazil has received in the international press is due almost single handedly to the large urban centers of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, where crime is rampant due to overcrowding and gross inequities in income distribution among the population. Florianopolis on the other hand has the feel and safety of a sleepy island paradise, and its inhabitants (many of whom moved here specifically to get away from the craziness of big city life in Brazil) go to great measures to safeguard the peaceful atmosphere in the city.

Of course when visiting the island as a foreigner, it pays to stay in one of the island's better neighborhoods and with a reputable outfit, ideally one that will provide constant access to English speaking on-site staff to assist with anything you need during your stay, as well as provide insider information on the best local places to eat, go out, shop, surf and explore.


What kind of surf board should I use, and do I need to bring my own?

Basically, if the board works on the waves back home, it will work here. As a general rule, local surfers prefer shorter, smaller boards, but that is more for a reflection of Brazilian surf style than anything else. Beginners do not need to bring any equipment, as all the equipment you'll need can be rented locally. Advanced surfers on the other hand, who are generally much more particular about what board they ride, may want to bring their own familiar surf equipment along. For those who simply refuse to travel with boards, or who have the unfortunate circumstance of damaged equipment or would just like to try out a new board for fun, surf boards in a variety of shapes and sizes can be rented or purchased with ease. And if you don't find exactly what you're after, consider a visit to a local surf board shaper to pick up a custom board shaped just for you.


Where should I stay when I come to visit Florianopolis?

One of Floripa's great charms lies in its variety, as there are 42 beaches around the island, each with a distinct neighborhood identity and character. As a general rule, the south of the island is less developed (although many would say a bit too simple and rustic, for the most part lacking interesting options for restaurants, boutiques, nightlife, etc.), while the north of the island is more densely populated (although many would say overbuilt to the extent that some of the charm of the island has been lost). The west side of the island, directly facing the mainland, is where the downtown city center and business district is located. Many are surprised to see the large collection of high rises and office buildings in this part of the island, which is a stark contrast to the untouched nature that you'll see elsewhere. While there are some interesting attractions to visit in the downtown area, for all but the most fanatic urbanites, this is not a good place to stay during your vacation in Florianopolis as there are no beaches, water not suitable for bathing, and the area generally lacks a vacation vibe since most are there simply to work.

Most consider the 'crowned jewel' area of the island to be the region in the center of the east side of the island, in particular the Praia Mole and Lagoa da Conceição areas. Here visitors are enchanted by Floripa's most stunning and unique natural beauty, with a number of fantastic beaches as well as lush green mountains, soft white sand dunes and the beautiful Lagoa da Conceição lagoon itself, which aside from stunning visuals also offers a large variety of leisure and sporting options such as boating, kiting, wakeboarding, fishing and swimming suitable for children of all ages. The Lagoa towncenter offers a charming collection of trendy cafes, shopping boutiques, great restaurants, and a thriving nightlife scene, in addition to everything you're likely to need while visiting the island (markets, pharmacies, post office, internet cafes, medical clinic, etc). The atmosphere offers the best of the local Brazilian vibe coupled with a healthy dose of international sophistiction. Since most visitors to the island come to sunworship at its beautiful beaches, our experience has shown that the ideal place on the island to stay is Praia Mole beach, which is the most vibrant and beautiful, as well as centrally located, beach on the island's eastern side. The beach itself offers a variety of beach bars that serve tasty beach cuisine (seafood, salads, sandwiches and appetizers, as well as of course a large variety of drinks and spirits), and from here its just several minutes by car to the Lagoa towncenter which is a hub for everything else you will need while on the island. From Praia Mole beach, with its central location, you'll also be conveniently positioned for easy day trips to explore the 'gems' sprinkled around the rest of the island.

Unfortunately the hotels in Florianopolis leave a lot to be desired, and as such visitors tend to prefer to rent private residences which offer a great deal more in terms of comfort, quality and the ammenities people expect (such as WiFi internet access, air conditioning, high-quality bedding, etc). Click here for vacation rentals in the Praia Mole area, offering a selection of upscale housing options and a helpful on-site staff to make sure you'll always be pointed in the right direction while on the island. In this regard you should know that Brazil is a destination where travelers are often surprised to find that the average person on the street (taxi drivers, store clerks, hotel receptionists, etc.) does not speak much, if any, English. Being immersed alone in a foreign culture such as this can be bewildering for some, who can feel frustrated because they may miss out on some of the great experiences that local culture has to offer by staying isolated in their particular traveling group, unable to find the best of what Florianopolis has to offer. As a result it is strongly advised to choose an accommodations option, whether it be a private vacation residence, hotel or bed and breakfast, that offers some basic assistance to visitors, better allowing you to see the island through the eyes of a local.


What are the experts saying about Florianopolis?

The Wall Street Journal | Travel: "Have It Your Way: Surf and the City"

Florianópolis's status as a hip destination is relatively new—but definitely not fleeting. The 200-square-mile island has always been the center of Brazilian surfing culture; it is now drawing visitors who don't own longboards with a rare mix of big-city convenience and raw nature.

Full text at:  The Wall Street Article


Departures Magazine: "The landscape, the food, the vibe of the people -- it's just a magical place!"

Off the coast of southern Brazil's Santa Catarina region sits the 33 mile-long island of Florianópolis, more commonly known in these parts as Floripa. From the mainland, one can get there by boat (a 30-minute ride), by car (an hour's drive across a bridge), or by helicopter (a five-minute flight that costs about $800). Regardless of the route, making the trip to this subtropical paradise -- Brazil's answer to St. Tropez, Ibiza and Punta del Este all in one--is worth the effort, if only to experience one of its 42 unspoiled beaches, its big-wave surfing, or its pulsating nightlife.

Full text at:  Departures Magazine Article


New York Times: "The Place to Be: Florianópolis, Brazil"

As South American jet-set spots like Punta del Este in Uruguay lose their novelty, affluent Brazilians and in-the-know internationals have taken the party to Florianópolis and the 40-odd white-sand beaches of the 33-mile-long island that makes up much of the city. Caipirinha-soaked lounges, stylish beach bars and cavernous megaclubs have sprouted all over the island. Once a favored spot of the surf-world cognoscenti, Florianópolis, some 450 miles southwest of Rio de Janeiro, has emerged as Latin America’s hottest new party destination.

Full text at:  New York Times Article


Forbes Traveler: "World's Top 10 Luxury Surf Spots"


“When master Hawaiian surfboard shaper John Carper first started surfing 50 years ago, people referred to surfers as beach bums and slackers, and no one thought they'd get a job... Fast-forward half a century: Surfing is now a $10 billion industry worldwide, and everyone's riding a wave of success... cashed-up executives are swapping the board room for a long board, hitting the surf on weekends as an antidote to their stressful lives.

Florianopolis’ sandy breaks are perfect for beginners and intermediate surfers, but don’t be fooled by this Brazilian island’s gentle nature: It also hosts South America’s only WCT Pro Surfing event.”

Full text at:  Forbes Traveler Article


National Geographic: "World's 20 Best Surf Towns"

Best for young people looking to burn the candle at both ends. With 4,655 miles of coastline and increasingly surf-crazy populace, Brazil is poised to become the next great epicenter of global surf culture. Nowhere is this better exemplified that Brazil's island capital of surfing, Florianópolis, or Floripa, as the locals prefer. Expect to surf a lot of afternoons, because the parties go late.

Full text at:  National Geographic Article


The Guardian(UK): "The World's Top Party Beaches"

“There are 42 beaches on Florianópolis, a beautiful island an hour's flight from Sao Paulo or Rio. Among their number, Praia Mole - a 20-minute cycle from the lakeside town of Lagoa de Conceição - is the most excitable, lined with dozens of caipirinha-soaked beach bars and restaurants that hum with samba and reggae. Flanked by two superb left-handers the beach is something of a mecca for local surfers, but the flirting on the sand can be just as active - Praia Mole has a reputation for attracting the most beautiful boys and girls in Brazil.”

Full text at:  The Guardian(UK) Article


TIME Magazine: "The Beautiful South"

Florianópolis is regularly voted best for quality of life in the country. The accolade attracts a steady flow of fashionable Paulistas (São Paulo is only an hour's flight away), young surfers and families coming to while away their weekends at the wide sandy beaches nearby. Style and glamour are in the city's DNA — its most famous son and daughter are tennis player Gustavo Kuerten and supermodel Gisele Bündchen.

Floripa, as it is known to locals, is basically an island — a stretch of water cuts most of the city off from the mainland, and a bridge connects the two. With waves lapping every corner, it's a haven for watersports enthusiasts, and kite surfers love its central lagoon. There are 42 beaches in total, many of which are only accessible by foot or boat."

Full text at:  Time Magazine Article


The Wall Street Journal:

“Florianópolis, Brazil. Reporters Jonathan Karp and Miriam Jordan on the charms of a less-explored isle in southern Brazil.”

Full text at:  The Wall Street Journal


Business Traveler:


“Bridge to the Future - As it welcomes a surge of wealthy vacationers, Florianópolis aims to become the next Silicon Valley.”

Full text at:  Business Traveler



The Miami Herald: "But where do the Brazilians go when they want to samba?"


The world dreams of escaping to Rio de Janeiro, but what about Rio natives themselves? Ask the boys and girls of Ipanema (or many other Brazilians), and you´ll find that Florianopolis (Ilha de Santa Catarina), an island just off Brazil´s southern coast, tops most lists."


SwellMagnet.com Travel Report:

“With high quality consistent surf year round, great weather, tropical temps, some of the best beaches in the world, natural Brazilian beauty everywhere you look, the best parties, the best food anywhere, and some of the best looking people in the world, it's hard to argue for a better place to take your next surf trip.

Full text at:  SwellMagnet.com Travel Report


SurfersVillage.com: "Florianopolis Maybe Best All Around Surf Trip Destination"

Florianopolis, a small island located just off the southern coast of Brazil, is quietly making a name for itself as one of the best all-around surf trip destinations around. Recently named by Forbes Traveler as one of the world's top 10 'luxury' surf destinations, a Florianopolis surf trip offers a unique combination of day and night-time activities to keep just about anyone happy.

For starters, this beach break paradise boasts over 15 classic surf beaches, with several world-class surf spots. Variety and year round wave consistency are two of the island's strong points, and with so many options and nearly unlimited peaks, uncrowded waves are always for the finding and the scenery from out in the water is unbeatable.

One word of advice for international visitors - make sure you visit the island with someone who knows what they're doing. Not well organized for tourists who don't speak the local language (Portuguese) and quite spread out (both in terms of surfing, activities, restaurants and nightlife), it can be difficult for those who show up with no prior knowledge to uncover Florianopolis' true gems.

Full text at: Surfer's Village Article

The Guardian (UK):
“Sun, Sea and Supermodels - Florianopolis is the hottest beach resort in South America right now.”

Full text at:  Guardian Article


MSNBC Today:

"For more beauty on the beach, head a few hundred miles north of Punta del Este to the beaches of Florianopolis on the island of Santa Catarina in Southern Brazil.

Floripa, as Brazilians call this California-esque coastal enclave, is as renowned throughout Latin America for its golden beaches as it is for the golden-haired bombshells that abound—Germans, Polish and Italians colonized the South of Brazil, explaining the Giselle Bündchen look-a-like phenomenon that’s unmissable on the beaches here. “Floripa is recognized as a top-end beach place in Brazil,” says Sao Paolo tourism executive Francisco Costa Neto. “They have some great seafood there, too, so it’s really the best of both worlds.”

The eastern beaches, particularly Praia Mole, draw international surfers and gorgeous groupies for good waves in a strut-your-stuff atmosphere, while the southern beaches, popular with Santa Catarina locals, are emptier due to the colder water, rocky shoreline and more remote access (many require hiking in)."

Full text at:  MSNBC Today Article


W Magazine:


“In recent years, some of Brazil's most glamorous sorts have been forsaking their traditional watering holes for the more discreet charms of an island near the southern tip of the country. Santa Catarina -- usually referred to as Floripa, for the island's capital city, Florianópolis -- is an easy hour or so flight from either Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo and boasts 300 square miles of ravishing beaches and luxuriant rainforests.

Floripa offers outstanding opportunities for all water sports: surfing, kite surfing, sailing and diving. 'It's like Rio used to be 20 years ago. It's all easy-going and there are places where nature still is left untouched. Besides the beach, there are great restaurants and nightclubs, if you want that. And the people are the most beautiful in Brazil.'

Now Americans appear to be catching on. Calvin Klein and musician Ben Harper were spotted there this winter. Perhaps they feel at home with the island's Southern California vibe, which emanates from the local surfing culture as well as a profusion of blonds.”

Full text at:  W Magazine Article


The Ark:

“Surfing is not the only pastime on the idyllic vacation isle of Florianopolis. Just as available are windsurfing, kitesurfing, eco-hikes and tours, sand dune boarding, river rafting, horseback riding, snorkeling and diving. Brazilians are friendly, fun-loving, relaxed and warm, and Floripa is a very safe place, contrary to what one sometimes hears on the news about Brazil’s largest mega-cities like São Paulo and Rio.'”


Full text at:  Ark Article


When is the best time to visit Florianopolis?

There is no definitive “best time” of the year to visit Florianopolis. You could ask ten locals this question and receive ten different answers. Each season in Floripa offers distinct characteristics, and which of these are most attractive depends on individual preferences. The goal here is to outline these characteristics in order to assist you in determining which time of the year will suit you best.

January, February: These months encompass the Brazilian high season, when most of the country takes summer vacation and heads off to beach destinations (not unlike Europe in July and August). The high season in Florianopolis begins the day after Christmas and continues through the end of Carnaval, the date of which varies from year to year but generally falls toward the end of February. During this time of year Florianopolis is in high gear, all cylinders go. The weather is warm (average highs – January: 82°, February: 83°), beaches are packed, nightclubs and bars are jumping, restaurants are often filled to capacity, and the atmosphere is vibrant as jet-set vacationers from all over South America arrive to enjoy the beauty of Floripa in all its summer glory. Events and parties sell out quickly, big name international DJ’s pass through the clubs on a regular basis (i.e., Fat Boy Slim, Triesto, Sasha, etc.), and Brazilian actors and models are seen all around the island’s hot spots. Sun seekers descend on the island in great numbers and everyone takes to the water – windsurfing, kitesurfing, canoeing, boating, and of course most famously, surfing. The only drawback of this time of year is that the island at times can get overcrowded, particularly during the weeks of New Year’s and Carnaval, when prices for airfare and accommodations also go up quite a bit. Since the island’s infrastructure and roads were not designed for such a huge swell in population, traffic can be severe, so it is important to stay in a top location so you'll already be in a great area and can walk to the beach without having to drive. Because of the tremendous variety of beaches on the island and their varying angles of exposure to the Atlantic (click here for a map of Florianopolis), if there is any swell at all there will for sure be at least a few breaks that are “on”. Also a great time for beginner surfers who would prefer to learn with gentler waves. For those rare days when there is no swell whatsoever, the weather is warm and perfect for enjoying the many outdoor adventure activities that Nexus offers in lieu of surfing, such as river rafting, sand dune boarding, windsurfing, snorkeling, paragliding or horseback riding. In sum, these months are great for those who want a vibrant, high energy vacation, an incredible beach and nightlife “scene”, warm tropical weather that is perfect for enjoying the surf and all the other outdoor action sport activities available here, and don’t mind a bit of congestion here and there or the absence of constant overhead swells.

March, April: If you asked 10 locals what their favorite time of the year in Florianopolis is, the months getting the highest number of votes would without a doubt be March and April. During these months, the weather is fantastic and warm (average highs – March: 81°, April: 77°), the crowds of visitors have subsided (and with them the overcongestion of the island), water temperatures are at their warmest, and the locals let loose. Nightlife and the beach vibe continue in full force, carrying on the energy of the high season. Swells pick up as April approaches and there are epic surf days to be had on the water. Also an excellent time for beginner and intermediate surfers, as Floripa's beginner beaches offer protected coves with gentler waves even when bigger swells come in. On days when swell is less than perfect, weather is ideal for exploring the many gorgeous nature trails on the island leading to waterfalls, mountain vistas and pristine lagoons, partaking in the action/adventure sports, or taking excursions to get an insider’s view into Floripa's wonderfully exotic local culture. Long evenings are perfect for barbeques with friends and lazy dinners with plenty of caipirinhas before heading out on the town.

May, June, July: During this time of year, the swells continue to pick up in force and double overheads are not uncommon. Wetsuits are desirable for all but the most cold blooded surfers, and lineups thin out as temperature-sensitive Brazilians tend to prefer to stay out of the colder water. The most consistent and powerful swells in Floripa are to be had between April and October, and these months are the focal point of that period. One downside for surfing is that in May and June some of the beaches in Florianopolis close down for mullet fishing season (unfortunately for surfers, fishermen got to the island first, and Brazil is a place where long-standing traditions tend to be honored). Luckily this closure is by no means a problem, as Floripa has so many great surfing beaches and plenty of them remain open (including Praia Mole and Joaquina beaches, two world-class surf spots). For beginner surfers, our best beginner beach is also unaffected by the fishing season, while also remaining sheltered for the most part from larger and possibly intimidating waves despite the increasing swell intensity on the island generally. However, if you were enticed by the chance to try out 20 different breaks in 7 days and the equivalent of a surf smorgasbord, May and June are not the ideal months for you. The nightlife scene on the island slows down a notch, but are still incredible by just about any standard. Floripa is a state capital with a population of roughly 400,000 year round residents and is without a doubt a fully-functioning year round city independent of tourism (as opposed to many Brazilian vacation resort destinations that pretty much shut the doors outside of the summer vacation season). The island itself has three large universities and there are several more on the continent nearby, so you can rest assured the nightlife goes strong year round, with Brazilians always looking to enjoy life and have a good time. Weather wise, the beach is still a great option on nice days in May and gets comfortably full on weekends and holidays, as is occasionally also the case in June and July as well (average highs – May: 73°, June: 69°, July: 68°). But for the most part, this time of year does not offer tropical beach-type weather, instead it is more like San Diego in the springtime. Sunny days are warm and pleasant, though at night it can cool off quite a bit because of the proximity to the ocean, so make sure to pack some long sleeved evening wear this time of year. In addition to the surfing, this is a fantastic time of year for nature hikes, cycling and all the other great outdoor activities that Floripa offers (horseback riding, river rafting, sandboarding, paragliding, etc.). And of course all the charms of Brazilian culture and Floripa in particular, such as the warm and friendly people, incredible cuisine and local seafood specialties, local customs and festivals, and enchanting local atmosphere, are as omnipresent as ever. Overall, these months are excellent for those who don’t insist on tropically warm weather and won’t miss laying out in the sun at the beach each and every day, are comfortable with a slightly less “electric” social scene (again, statements with regard to nightlife slowing down must be taken with a grain of salt, as anyone who parties with Brazilians in even the calmest of circumstances invariably walks away shaking their head wondering how they manage to do it!), and are looking for the most powerful swells and most consistent surf, a more low-key atmosphere, and to enjoy the many other outdoor activities Floripa offers. A final benefit is that most accommodations options on the island offer “low season” pricing kicks during these months, making it a great time for those who are looking to save some money while still having a fantastic vacation.

August, September, October: Springtime in Floripa means a continued onslaught of powerful Atlantic swells pounding the many surf spots on and around the island, making epic surf sessions par for the course. The weather begins to heat up gradually (average highs – August: 69°, September: 70°, October: 73°), but wetsuits are still necessary and lineups remain thin as many Brazilians prefer to wait until things heat up even more. September and October are generally windy months in Floripa (wind picks up in the afternoons, ideal for kitesurfers!), so the best surfing is normally done before noon to 1pm. The atmosphere on the island remains more low key than in the high summer season, but nightlife and cultural events and festivals start to pick up again as the weather warms, particularly on weekends and holidays (and rest assured Brazilians have lots of holidays, seemingly one for just about every half famous person in the history of the country!). For those looking for a tropical vacation, this is not the best time to come to Floripa, as there won't be gauranteed hot beach weather every day of your stay. Nor is it the best time for those wanting to learn how to surf for the first time, as swell intensity tends to be at its strongest (though there are always beaches with gentler swells somewhere on the island, so certainly not prohibitive for beginners). In sum, this time of the year is great for those who want powerful waves with less people in the water and those looking for a calmer, more low key atmosphere and who don’t mind it being less hot.

November, December: By mid-October the weather in Floripa already begins to heat up, and by the time November rolls around the Floripa beach scene officially launches back into full swing. While the weather in Floripa can be temperamental and change rapidly, in general these months offer fantastic beach going weather and warm, comfortable days and nights (average highs – November: 76°, December: 79°). In addition to the beach scene picking up again, the nightlife and “vibe” on the island follow suit as well, and at any given moment you're likely to encounter a jam packed event of socialites and party revelers dancing into the night. The wind can still occasionally pick up in the afternoons (attention kitesurfers!), making pre-noon surf sessions ideal, followed by lunch and afternoon siestas to gear up for the night on the town, city/cultural exploration or any number of other action sports options. All in all, a fantastic time of the year to visit Floripa as all its charms are at or nearing full bloom, ideal for those looking for a good balance between great weather, fun surf with tail end of the strong swell season, classic Brazilian nightlife and great social vibe on the island.


Who is Nexus Surf?

Nexus Surf was founded to help meet the growing demand for high-end surf/adventure travel to Brazil, one of the most exciting and exotic travel destinations in the world. Nexus has evolved into Florianopolis' premier information portal, helping visitors to find and enjoy the very best that the island has to offer, both in term of surf and adventure sports, nightlife, natural beauty and cultural attractions. In Floripa, incredible waves are just the beginning, and you'll also find dining, nightlife and extreme sports options to rival those available anywhere else in the world, all in a backdrop of breathtaking natural beauty and exotic Brazilian culture.

It is Nexus' goal to provide travelers with a wealth of information about Florianopolis so that they can hit the ground running and start enjoying their visit to the fullest immediately upon arrival. In addition to the information available from Nexus, our sister company Floripa Vacation Homes offers accommodations in Florianopolis and provides guests with on-site assistance to make sure they're always pointed in the right direction while here on the island.


Nexus Surf links and partners page

Click here for links to a variety of sites that may be of interest.