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Fabulous Florianópolis


It had only been two weeks since my arrival, but I still knew. My mother always told me not to be hasty, but when it hits you, it hits you. As I stepped onto the warm, soft sand for the first time and stared across the turquoise water charged with rolling waves, the proverbial question rang out in my head: if you had to spend the rest of your life in one place, where would it be? Right here.

Imagine an island with stunning natural beauty, a lovely sub-tropical climate, vivacious nightlife, and over forty amazing beaches. What’s even cooler is the populace is lively and social, taking every opportunity to spend time with others while sipping on Caipirinhas and listening to the rhythms of the Samba.

View from our house at Praia Mole

View from our house at Praia Mole

Florianopolis is an island just off the coast of the province of Santa Catarina in the south of Brazil. The Island is connected with the main land by a bridge, making for easy access. It’s known as the “Monaco of Brazil,” and serves as a major holiday destination for Brazilians and Argentinians, but is relatively unknown in the US and Europe.

When we arrived at our house, I was pleasantly surprised. It was half way up a hill, making for an amazing view of the surrounding area. Within a five minute walk was one of the best beaches on the island, Praia Mole.

Praia Mole Beach

Praia Mole beach, one of the many beaches in Florianopolis

Brazil has a very specific beach culture. Brazilians don’t lie on a towel in the sun. When not parading the beach, showing off their bodies in their tight speedos and thongs, trying to impress the opposite sex, they sit on a little chair, protected from the sun by a ‘guarda-sol’, sipping on an ice cold beer. When I say ice cold, I really mean ice cold… when the beer is more than 1 degree away from being frozen, they consider it too warm to drink.

Florianopolis is well known as an excellent surf spot. Our blond haired, blue eyed surf teacher looked like he came straight from Scandinavia. The first thing he explained was that surfing is about relaxation and patience. “You know man, you just relax, wait for the wave to come, and don’t worry about anything. No stress, you know?” Great, but how on earth do I stand up on the board?

Standing on a board turned out to be surprisingly easy

Standing on a board turned out to be surprisingly easy 🙂

The waves seemed quite big and since none of us had any surfing experience, we were a little worried. The good news was that the beginner’s beach, Praia de Galheta, was a 45 minute walk from the surf school. During our trek, we came across a massive, jagged rock. Right when we passed it, a naked man jumped in front of us, giving us a super creepy look. “I forget to tell you man, this is the gay beach. Some people are a little crazy here. But if you’re into that, that’s totally cool, it’s just not my scene.” Not mine either, but kudos to that crazy naked guy. Ballsy.

Surfing in Floripanopolis

Ok, I admit, the waves weren’t that big

My first wave didn’t go as planned. I flew off the board, got tossed around by the wave a few times, had a massive amount of seawater push its way into my nose, and then crashed my head into the back of my friend’s board when I resurfaced.

After this somewhat rough introduction to surfing, the rest of the lesson went pretty well. Standing up on the board turned out to be easier than expected. I’ll never forget that awesome, invincible feeling after riding my first wave. And just like that, a new passion was born!

Comment Section

14 thoughts on “Fabulous Florianópolis

By Huzefa on 6 December 2012

Cool story Jasper. I’m 32… do you think it’s too late to start surfing? Also, is Florianopolis a good place for single guys to party? Thanks!

By Jasper Ribbers on 6 December 2012

Haha I’d probably stick with chess if I were you ;-P

By Jake on 6 December 2012

I had the pleasure of meeting Jasper in Floripa last year…Truly an inspiring guy! He was a big part of me going from Expat (lived in Argentina & Colombia) to pure vagabond. And he knows ALL of the hotspots in Floripa. Hoping to cross paths again in Asia next year. I’m down to my one carry on and backpack!! See you soon. Jake

By Jasper Ribbers on 6 December 2012

Good to hear from you Jake! Look forward to hanging out again! Safe travels!

By Andreas on 7 December 2012

Jasper, I remember this trip!! How awesome. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, I took those pictures 😉 Andreas

By Neila on 17 December 2012

Olá Jasper,como você está? Estou encantada com o site e com a sua história..assim como você gosto muito de viajar e peguei várias dicas de lugares lindos que passasse.Florianópolis é realmente um lugar muito lindo e especial..que legal que você se divertiu bastante.Quando pretende voltar? Você tem que conhecer uma praia chamada Praia do Rosa-Imbituba,fica na minha cidade..ela é conhecida por preservar a natureza e por receber visita da Baleia Franca todo mês de agosto..vale a pena. Um grande abraço Neila

By Jasper Ribbers on 17 December 2012

Ola Neila! Muito obrigado pela sua recomendação. Vou informá-lo quando será no Brasil! Abraços

By Judah Rosenberg on 19 December 2012

Hey Jasper! I took your recommendation and stayed at the Sunset Backpackers Hostel in Floripa. Thank you so much! The place had such an amazing vibe about and the view was ridiculous. Thanks again!

By Scott on 19 December 2012

So you stayed near Praia Mole. I’ve been told the best place for nightlife is in Jurere. What did you think of each area and what are your recommendations?

By Jasper Ribbers on 22 December 2012

Hey Scott, yes the best place for nightlife is Jurere. This is where the big clubs are, Pacha, Cafe de la Musica, P12 and others. During the holiday season there will be lots of parties, it gets very busy and it will be very expensive. The crowd will be mostly people from all over South America on holiday. I like the area around Lagoa de Conceicao better personally, it has a much more local vibe, it’s more quiet but still has good options to go out at night. Let me know where you decide to go so I can give you more specific recommendations! When are you going? For more info about Jurere see

By Mariella on 7 January 2013

Hi! I’m going in March with a group of friends. what area do you recommend staying at? Thank you!

By Jasper Ribbers on 8 January 2013

Hi Mariella, my favorite area is around Lagoa da Conceição. You can stay in the village or around one of the nearby beaches, either Praia Mole (my favorite) or Praia de Joaquina. How big is your group and what is your main interest, i.e. beaches, surfing, nightlife?

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