Ilha de Santa Catarina-Sizzle in Floripa

If you’re looking for the hottest beach scene on the planet these days, you may want to bypass Miami, San Juan, and Ibiza  and head straight to Brazil. Santa Catarina Island (Ilha de Santa Catarina), aka the island of Florianopolis, has become one of the most popular destinations in Brazil, with miles and miles of gorgeous beaches offering world-class surfing.
First, what’s the difference between Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, and Floripa? Florianopolis the city is the capital of the state of Santa Catarina, about a 1-hour flight from Sao Paolo. Half of the city is also located on the island of Santa Catarina. Island and city together are just referred to as Florianopolis, which people often shorten to Floripa. Floripa is easily accessed via a bridge from the mainland.
Much of Floripa’s appeal has to do with its 42—yes, 42—beaches, not a stinker in the bunch. The north end of the island is made up of modern resorts and calm waters; it’s an urbanized, heavily touristed beach scene, particularly in the high summer months of December, January, and February. Yet even amid all the action, the beaches are perfectly swimmable, even picturesque. If you like your beaches less trammeled, check out Santinho, a quieter spot on the rocky northern coast with a beautiful, expansive beach, the island’s only five-star resort, and a quaint village.
Farther south in the center of the island, the Lagoa da Conceicao is a large lagoon wrapped in sand dune and verdant vegetation. Nearby, the quiet little community of Lagoa da Conceicao boasts some of the best restaurants in the region. Barra de Lagoa has vintage fishing-village charm, more good beaches, and del Morro de Barra, a lovely section of town
linked by a lagoon (crossed by a hanging bridge) where no cars are allowed. Just to the east are the spectacular beaches of Galeta, Mole, and Joaquina—wide, sandy strands enveloped in verdant green hills and blessed with large, surfable waves. Mole is a happening hangout for gorgeous bodies and skimpy swimsuits. Lovely Galeta doesn’t even bother with the suits: It’s the island’s only clothing-optional beach.
Farther south toward Campeche, the handsome beaches become more rugged and the rolling waves are like catnip to surfers—and the partying goes well into the night here. To the west side of the island facing the mainland, the quaint Azorean fishing village of Riberao da Ilha is accessible only via a narrow, winding seaside road with views of the Bahia Sul and the lush hills of the mainland across the bay.
Wherever you are, you won’t be far from restaurants and cafes offering delicious regional seafood. Local camarao (shrimp) figure prominently on menus, as do local oysters, farmed right here in the seas around Riberao da Ilha.