Florianópolis is the best beach destination in Brazil! It is a city literally on an island almost the size of NYC full of beaches for all tastes. And the traffic jam. Due to many nature conservation areas, hills and a strong environmental community, it remains with few and small roads. During summer, especially between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, the island population increases 3 times with visitors. Can you imagine how things get full and stuck this time of the year? I have lived in Floripa [city nickname] for 16 years and I decided to share secret tips on how to survive during this special peak of season time. Hopefully, I can contribute to a stress-free great time.
Party until sunrise on NYE It is a tradition to choose one of the 42 beaches on the island to spend New Year’s Eve, an occasion to take your own drinks to toast at midnight and to listen to music. But the way back from the beach can be as worse as if it were a daily rush hour. I recommend to stay at the beach all night and come back only after 6 a.m. You must see the first sunrise of the year, it is wonderful!
Sunrise at Mole Beach on January 1st. Credits: Sissa Granada
Stay in the neighborhood you want to enjoy most of your time Not to say it will be healthier, choosing a walking distance hotel from the beach you want to go will bring peace to your life. If you want to surf and do watersport, stay close to the southeast part of the island. There is only one road to reach surfer’s famous beaches of Mole or Joaquina. If you aim the tranquility of wild beaches from the south of the island, look for places like Pântano do Sul or Açores.
If traveling with the entire family, book 1 year in advance If you want to go to the North kids-friendly beaches, with no waves, and with warm water, a must do is to plan one season ahead to stay at Daniela or Cachoeira do Bom Jesus beaches. It is usually the most expensive area to stay and traffic is stuck because there is the top luxury beach Jurere Internacional close by. The further north you go, the smaller roads can be as if it were in a small countryside city.
Go to the beach really early. Or really late Florianópolis had in 2009 the title of the city with the worst traffic jam in Brazil. So if you want to go to the beach which is 20 minutes away, by car, a must do is to leave home around 7 am. After 8 am, you will probably make it in 40 minutes. After 9 am, you will be stuck and may take 3-4h to reach your destination. Another good time to go to the beach is after 5 pm. In this scenario, you will find a beach with plenty of space to lay down. This is the best time if you want to swim or run along the beach. Take a rest and stay for the sunset, around 8 pm. You must do this, it is lovely!
Sunset at Jurerê Beach. Credits: Sissa Granada
Uber will not take you to the beach during traffic jams Uber used to have rate policies according to the ride’s duration and trajectory, but nowadays prices are almost fixed and drivers receive the same amount if a trip takes 20 or 40 minutes. So they simply deny passengers when they want to go to the beach when traffic jams start. I asked many of them, and they confirm it is not moneywise worth it.
Rent a car. Or a boat if you can afford it Having a car will be much cheaper than taking a taxi to go to the beach. It will cost you tons of money if you take a 3 hours ride. Another way to skip the jam is by sea if you have the money to rent a speedboat. Although Florianópolis is an island, there is no public transportation by sea. There are many marinas and I recommend the one at Prainha neighborhood, close to downtown, or some in the sister-city of São josé, in the continental side of the island.
Pay to park at the beach Some years ago, people used to leave their cars along the road, where is usually cheaper. But because of the road congestion, those places are now forbidden for parking and there will be plenty of police officers just prepared to give you a fine. When you arrive at the beach you will probably be so happy you do not want to spoil your good mood with a fine – which is by the way more expensive than the parking daily fee.
Try alternative routes from your location app If you leave late from your place to go to any beach, skip the main roads. Locals usually use alternative ways which have less traffic for sure. Two examples: from downtown to Lagoa da Conceição, go via Prainha > Carvoeira > Córrego Grande and avoid Itacorubi. From Iguatemi shopping to Campeche, go via Lagoa > Rio Tavares > Novo Campeche and avoid SC-405.
Have a break Considering you are stuck in the traffic jam on your way back home, you can just do a strategic stop along the way and avoid being tired and stressed. If you are coming back from the northern beaches via SC-401, you can stop anywhere in Monte Verde for some shopping or have a coffee. Do not worry, it is common to wear a beach suite in shopping malls – not wet nor dirty, though. If you are coming from the south beaches via Lagoa da Conceição, you can stop by the lake for a boat trip right before sunset, or book some relaxing massage at one of the health businesses at Centrinho da Lagoa.
Plan something right afterward the beach It is very difficult to be punctual on dinner if you plan to go to the beach in the afternoon of the same day. I would say you can actually give up because you will bog down. If you have plans for the evening, I recommend you go to the beach in the morning and leave around 13 pm. You will have free roads on both trips and be able to rest the entire afternoon. If you make it only in the afternoon, a must do is to go straight after the beach. Pick the closest one to your meeting point and make things easier for you. Bring extra clothes and everything will be fine.