Looking out over Praia Enseada
Brazil is known for having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Sadly when most people think of beaches in Brazil they only think of Rio de Janeiro. Many tourists never venture outside of Rio. Yes Copacabana and Ipanema are awesome. However, we feel that the beaches in southern Brazil are overlooked by foreign travelers.
When trying to decide how to write about the amazing coastline of southern Brazil, I struggle. The beaches here are unique. It depends on personal preference when it comes to picking a favorite beach. Dale likes to surf, and I like to be waited on by beach boys and take naps. I also like to stand up paddle board and swim.
Here is a list of our favorite beaches and some information about the characteristics of each beach. Perhaps this list can help you plan your trip to the southern state of Santa Catarina!
Elizabeth’s favorite beach:
My favorite overall beach in Santa Catarina is Bombinhas. We don’t visit often enough because it is on a peninsula with a two lane road in and out and traffic is usually horrible in the summer. Yet we love this beach for the clear and calm water. It’s great for families. It is so clear you can snorkel and it is a destination for scuba. This beach also has a lot of great amenities and restaurants. I loved this beach so much I wrote an article about it!
Our favorite Island that has it all:
Florianopolis, or Floripa as it’s called by the locals is our favorite beach vacation spot. This island has over 42 beaches and a beautiful lake in the middle. There is something for everyone. It has great surf, isolated beaches, pretty people, amenities, calm waters, family friendly areas, shopping, and the list goes on and on. Here are our favorite beaches in Floripa:
Dale’s favorite beach overall in Santa Catarina is Praia Moçambique. Our first trip to Floripa we came across this beach on accident knowing nothing about it. We made a turn and drove down a long dirt road and found this amazing spot. Moçambique is 8 miles of uncrowded beach off the beaten path. It is a surfer beach but the sand is soft and thick thanks to the sand dunes and it’s great for sunbathing. It’s a nice place to get away from everything, but you must pack in your own chairs, umbrella, food, and drinks. This beach reminds me of Hawaii’s North Shore beaches.
Bodyboarding Praia Moçambique
Praia Campeche is Dale’s second favorite beach. It’s a long crescent shaped beach with hills on each end. This beach is popular with surfers, kitesurfers, and young people. It is less developed with a cool restaurant set back away from the water. It’s a win for both Dale and I. He can surf, and I can sit on the beach and drink caipirinhas and get some rays.
Dale checking out the surf conditions at Campeche
Praia Galheta is a nude beach, but many walk the trail on the side of the cliff to visit this beach fully clothed. It’s also a gay beach but again many heterosexual people visit. The nudity is not why we love this beach. For us it is all about the hike. This beach is pristine and you have to hike from beautiful and popular Praia Mole. The hike is gorgeous. The trail begins near the rock formation at Praia Mole. It is worth a visit, but not for families with children!
Praia Ingleses is a beach that I enjoy for fried shrimp, beach drinks, and clear water. There is something wonderful about sitting at a table with your feet in the water. The waiters bring you food and drinks. The water is calm and perfect for taking a quick dip to cool off.
Our favorite off the beaten path beach:
Praia da Gamboa is just a little north of the famous and beautiful surfer beach Praia do Rosa. To get there you get off the highway and the road turns into several miles of dirt road which takes you to the middle of nowhere. Then suddenly the road becomes pavement and there is a beach with a few pousadas (Bed and Breakfast) and restaurants. It’s a small beach in a bay. There is a trail that you can take to hike to the top of the hill and out onto some rocks. This is one of the perfect lookouts for the Southern Right Whales. You can see them up close from here and it is amazing. This is also a great surfer beach. It’s laid back and not overly developed or crowded. We can’t wait to return!
Enjoying a drink with Dale Sr. after a day watching whales at play
A baby Southern Right whale playing off of Praia da Gamboa
Our favorite beaches closer to our home in Joinville:
Sao Francisco do Sul is another beach town that has everything we look for. The only down side is the traffic in and out of this area in the summer months. It is also a two lane road and an hour and half drive can take up to 3 or more hours in the summer. We love this place because there are several great beaches and an old colonial Portuguese fishing village.
Praia Grande is in a nature reserve surrounded by sand dunes. There are places you can sand board, it has hiking trails, and great waves for surfing. If you like to have the beach almost all to yourself and enjoy surfing this is the beach for you. There are no amenities at this beach. You have to bring in your own food, drinks, chairs, and umbrella.
Panoramic shot of Praia Grande
Prainha is next to Praia Grande separated by a rocky hill. It was recently named one of the best surf beaches in the world. Prainha means “little beach” in Portuguese. The water is too rough for children and weak swimmers. There are several fun bars and restaurants across the street.
Praia Enseada is the beach I enjoy for stand up paddle board. It is calm and there is one part of the beach where a baby wave breaks that is perfect for trying to catch a wave on your SUP. This is also a great beach if you have children because it is calm. You can rent umbrellas, chairs and SUP on this beach. There are several restaurants across the street.
Our SUP at Praia Enseada
Balneario Camboriu is one of our favorite beach towns closer to home because it is so easy to get there. We encounter less traffic because you take the main highway. This city is referred to as Riozinho or “little Rio” because it appears like miniature version of Rio de Janeiro. There is even a small Christ statue overlooking the city on a large hill. This is also a popular paragliding location and there is a park with a scary zip line. There are two beaches we frequent often here.
Looking back towards Praia Central, Balneario Camboriu
Praia Central is a wonderful beach for people watching. There is a sidewalk like the one in Rio de Janeiro and a bike lane. People run, walk, bike ride, skate, and you often see people running in moon boots! Also you often see the pirate ships cruise by that cater to tourists. There is a lot of activity here. This is also a family friendly beach with calm enough water for children. There are many restaurants and bars across the street from the beach. There is also great shopping just a block away.
Praia Brava is a surfer beach that many young people frequent. The waves get big here so it is not a great swimming spot unless you are a strong swimmer. This beach is also less crowded than Praia Central. There are several restaurants across the street as well as parking lots. Many of the restaurants will rent chairs and umbrellas and provide you with beach service. This is a win-win for us because Dale can surf and I can be catered to.
In Conclusion, if you visit Brazil and you don’t head south to Santa Catarina you are missing out on some of Brazil’s best beaches. There are still many we have yet to explore. Please feel free to comment below about your favorite beach and any beaches you have visited in Brazil that we should add to our list.