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Sea for the Well-off

Sea for the 
Well-off

Mardoqueu is made out of fine French bread dough. White and lean like a
baguette. The press used to call him Pole. But all his friends—and in the political
middle he thrives friend and foe are all the same—call him Doctor Shit.
By Brazzil Magazine

SANTA CATARINA

The Germans and Italians who settled in Santa Catarina in the 19th century, unlike most
immigrants in the rest of Brazil, owned their small, family-run farms. This European model
of land-use has produced a far more egalitarian distribution of wealth than in most of
Brazil—83% of the farmland is owned by farmers with less than 1000 hectares.

Many of the state’s four million people still own their rich farmland which, combined
with some healthy small-scale industry, has created one of Brazil’s most prosperous
states. This relative affluence, the very visible German presence and the efficient
services give the state the feel of Europe rather than of Brazil—at least in the
highlands, which are green and pastoral. If Santa Catarina reminds one of Switzerland,
it’s less because of geography and more because of the sedate middle-class consumerism.
Most travelers don’t come to Santa Catarina to visit a foreign culture—they come for
the beaches.

There’s no doubt that the beaches are beautiful: they’re wide and open, with
Caribbean-like coves and bays, clear, clean emerald-blue water, and views of offshore
islands. The water is very warm during the summer months, and there are plenty of calm,
protected beaches for swimming. Santa Catarina also has some of Brazil’s better surfing
spots. The currents can be very dangerous in places, so be careful.

While there are still fishing villages along the coast, you don’t really find the kind
of primitive fishing villages that predominate in the Northeast. The setting is less
exotic and less tropical, the villagers less secluded and less friendly, and the escape
from Western civilization less complete.

Many of Santa Catarina’s beaches have become fashionable vacation spots for well-to-do Paulistas,
Curitibanos and Argentines, so during the January-February holiday season, the
beaches and hotels are jammed. Several little Copacabanas have sprouted up in beach towns
such as Camboriú, and this growth is changing the coastline at an unbelievable pace.

Santa Catarina’s climate is nice and hot during the Brazilian summer. In the winter,
the wind along the coast picks up considerably, although it never gets too cold. The best
months to go, unless you like the crowds, are March, April, November and December.

Compared with other parts of Brazil, this is a polite and proper place, where children
are subdued and well mannered. You may be excluded from a restaurant because your jeans
are worn, and you will probably be excluded from a bar if you’re not wearing a shirt. You
must wear either bermuda-length shorts, or long trousers on intercity buses—no swim
suits. What’s so unusual about this Brazilian state is not that it has these rules but
that they are respected and enforced.

JOINVILLE

Imagine a city where blondes stroll through town on clean, well-lit, heavily policed
streets, perusing Bavarian-façaded, neon named shops full of modern Western appliances,
with well-manicured lawns, flower festivals, and a central park in which children play at
night. A city that is polite, efficient and pleasant. Now here’s the hard part: imagine
that this city is in Brazil.

Santa Catarina’s second largest city, Joinville (pronounced joyvilee) is described in
its own tourist brochure as `an industrial city’. The industry, however, is outside the
pleasant inner city, which is quite habitable and seems like the kind of place to raise a
family. For the traveler, Joinville is relaxed and pleasant, if unexciting.

Joinville is on the BR-101, 180 km north of Florianópolis and 123 km south of
Curitiba. The road is good and the views are beautiful around the town, particularly where
the highway traverses the lush coastal mountains. The drive down to Guaratuba (on the
coast to the north) is stunning.

Orientation

The city center is small, with most stores and services concentrated on and around Rua
15 de Novembro and Rua Princesa Isabel.

Information
Tourist Office

There is a tourist office in front of the Colón Palace Hotel, open Monday
to Sunday from 8 am to 6 pm. It offers mediocre maps and silly brochures, and the staff
speaks German and a little English. There is a travel agency behind the office.

Post & Telephone

The post office is on Rua Princesa Isabel. Make phone calls from the telefônica
next to the tourist information office.

Museu Nacional da Imigração

Housed in the old palace (built in 1870) at Rua Rio Branco 229, the Museu Nacional da
Imigração is full of objects used by the pioneers of the state. It’s open Tuesday to
Friday from 9 am to 6 pm.

Alameda das Palmeiras

In front of the Museu Nacional is an impressive, palm-lined walkway. These Imperial
palms are over a century old. Don’t miss the rare `dual’ palm. It’s the second palm on the
right as you face away from the museum.

Museu Arqueológico do Sambaqui

At Rua Dona Francisca 600 is the Museu Arqueológico do Sambaqui, an exposition of the
Sambaqui Indian lifestyle. It’s worth a visit on a rainy day. The museum is open Tuesday
to Friday from 9 am to noon and 2 to 6 pm.

Museu de Arte de Joinville

This is quite an interesting one. It houses works by local artists, and contains a
small restaurant. It’s at Rua 15 de Novembro 1400, and is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am
to 9 pm.

Mirante

A high tower on top of the Morro da Boa Vista, the Mirante is a good place to get your
bearings. It also provides a 360° view of Joinville, and you can see the Baía da
Babitonga and São Francisco do Sul.

Festivals

For the last 53 years, Joinville has hosted a Festival of Flowers each November. The
orchids are the main attraction. During July, the city also hosts the largest dance
festival in Latin America.

For places to stay and eat, read the book.

Things to Buy

If you’re in town on the second Saturday of the month, check out the artisan fair in
Praça Nereu Ramos.

For getting there & away, read the book

JOINVILLE TO FLORIANÓPOLIS

This stretch of coast has many beautiful beaches, but it’s being developed rapidly and
without controls. In general, the more famous a beach, the more developed and ugly it is.
Balneário Camboriú, the area’s best-known beach town, is an excellent example.

São Francisco do Sul

This historic city’s island setting was `discovered’ way back in 1504 by the Frenchman
Binot Paulmier de Goneville, but the city itself wasn’t settled until the middle of the
next century. It became the port of entry for the German immigrants who settled the land
around Joinville.

Beaches

The beaches on the Ilha de São Francisco are good, but their proximity to
Joinville (and even Curitiba) makes them some of the most crowded. On the positive side,
there are several cheap hotels in the city, and a variety of beaches accessible by local
buses. There is also a lot of surfing.

Both Prainha and Praia Grande (to the south) have big waves and are
popular surfing beaches. Swimming is not safe. Closer to the city, Praia de Ubatuba and
Praia da Enseada are pretty, and safe for swimming, but they’re developed and often
crowded. For another option, ask in town about boats leaving from Capitania dos Portos to
the Ilha da Paz.

For places to stay, read the book.

Barra Velha

If driving south from Joinville on the BR-101, this is the first point where the road
meets the sea. Four km to the south of town, Praia do Grant is popular with the younger
set. The surf beaches are Praia do Tabuleiro (two km from town) and Itajuba (five km
away).

Piçarras

Piçarras, 14 km south of Barra Velha, has a good, big beach, and several small islands
which can be visited. The town is lively in summer, but the campgrounds often fill up.

Penha

Penha is a big fishing town, so it’s not completely overrun by tourism. Only six km
from Piçarras, the ocean is calm at the city beaches, Praia da Armação and Prainha.
There are simple hotels at these beaches. The beaches south of these two are less crowded.
From Praia da Armação, boats leave every half-hour or so to the nearby islands of
Itacolomi and Feia.

Itajaí

At the turn-off to Blumenau, Itajaí is an important port for the Itajaí valley.
However, there’s not much here to interest the tourist and the best beaches are out of
town. There are a couple of hotels across from the rodoviária and several more on
the main road going out of town to Camboriú. Plenty of buses come and go from Itajaí.

Balneário Camboriú

This little Copacabana, with its sharp hills dropping into the sea, nightclubs with
`professional mulattos’ and an ocean boulevard named Avenida Atlântica, is clearly out of
control. In summer, the population increases tenfold.

Balneário Camboriú is Santa Catarina’s most expensive town. Here you can meet
well-heeled Argentines, Paraguayans and Paulistas who spend their summers in the
ugliest beach-hugging high-rise buildings you can imagine. The spoiling of this beachfront
is surely a crime against nature.

Outside the city, there is a Museu Arqueológico e Oceanográfico that’s worth visiting
(six km south on BR-101, open daily from 9 am to 6 pm), and a nude beach (a rarity in
Brazil) at Praia do Pinho, 13 km south of the city.

Porto Belo

The beaches around Porto Belo are the last good continental beaches before Ilha de
Santa Catarina. Praia de Bombas (three km away) and Praia Bombinhas (seven km from town by
dirt road) are the prettiest beaches around. For a great walk, head out to Ponta do Lobo,
12 km from Praia Bombinhas. From Rua Manoel Felipe da Silva in Porto Belo, you can catch a
boat to the islands of Arvoredo and João da Cunha. Both have fine beaches.

BLUMENAU

Blumenau is 60 km inland from Itajaí, 139 km from Florianópolis and 130 km from
Joinville. Nestled in the Vale do Itajaí, on the Rio Itajaí, Blumenau and its environs
were settled largely by German immigrants in the second half of the 19th century. The area
is serene, but the city itself wears its German culture way too loud. Everything is
Germanicised with the commercial, but not creative, flair of Walt Disney. The city
attracts tourists (mostly from not too far away), but isn’t particularly special.

Festival

Blumenau hosts an increasingly popular Oktoberfest, beginning on the first Friday in
October.

For places to stay and eat, read the book.

FLORIANÓPOLIS

Florianópolis, the state capital, fans out in both directions from the spot where the
coast and the large Ilha de Santa Catarina almost connect. The central section is on the
island, facing the Baía Sul. Over the hill, on the north shore, is a long row of luxury
high rises (none of which looks more than a couple of years old), and modern restaurants
to feed their occupants. The mainland part of the city has the industry. Much of the
city’s shoreline appears barren due to undeveloped landfill.

The city is modern, with some large structures such as the new rodoviária and
many works in progress. The island side of the city, where you’ll probably spend your
time, has a small-city feel. It’s easy to get around on foot, and there are regular public
buses to the island’s beautiful beaches.

Praça 15 de Novembro & Around

While you’ll probably want to get out to the beaches as soon as possible, it’s
definitely worth wandering around the city for a look at some of the colonial buildings.

From Praça 15 de Novembro and its 100-year-old fig tree, you can cross the road and go
into the pink Palácio Cruz e Souza. It’s the state museum, but the most interesting
things to see are the ornate parquetry floors and the outrageous 19th-century ceilings.
Entry is $0.50. It’s open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm.

On the high point of the praça is the Catedral Metropolitana; it was remodeled
this century, so not much from the colonial era remains. The least-remodeled colonial
church is the Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosário, further up from the cathedral.

Waterfront

Back down on the old waterfront are the Alfândega (Customs House) and the Mercado
Municipal, both colonial buildings that have been well preserved. The market is a good
place to have a chopp and watch passers-by in the late afternoon.

For places to stay and eat, read the book.

ILHA DE SANTA CATARINA

The island’s east-coast beaches are the most beautiful, with the biggest waves and the
greatest expanses of empty sand. They are also the most popular for day trips, and most do
not have hotels. The north-coast beaches have calm, bay-like water, and resorts with many
apartment-hotels and restaurants. The west coast, facing the mainland, has great views, a
quiet, Mediterranean feel and small, unspectacular beaches.

East Coast

The following beaches are listed from north to south. Praia dos Ingleses, 34 km from
Florianópolis, is becoming quite developed, and although the beach is a good one, the
surroundings aren’t very attractive. There are lots of hotels and restaurants catering to
the Brazilian, Argentine and Uruguayan tourists, but nothing’s cheap. Sol & Mar (269-1271)
has doubles for $40.

Praia do Santinho has a few beach houses and barracas and one of the island’s
most beautiful beaches. The island’s longest beach, Praia do Moçambique (or Praia
Grande), is 14 km long and undeveloped. It’s hidden by a pine forest from the dirt road
that runs a couple of km inland from it. The camping here is good.

Barra da Lagoa, a big, curved beach at the end of Praia do Moçambique, is a short bus
trip (No 403, `Barra da Lagoa’) from Florianópolis. It is still home to many indigenous
fisherfolk, descended from the original Azorean colonists. Although there are more hotels
and restaurants here than anywhere else on the east coast, except Praia dos Ingleses,
there are still not many of them, and they are not modern eyesores. The barracas
are excellent, and it seems every second house is for rent.

Praia Mole is a beautiful stretch of beach, with one hotel, the four-star Cabanas da
Praia Mole (232-0231; fax 232-0482). The beach is hip in summer. A good bar there is Mole
Blues. Paulo, the manager, is a Carioca who lived a long time in Los Angeles.
He speaks excellent English and is a fun guy.

Praia da Joaquina hosts the Brazilian surfing championship in January and the Hang
Loose championship in September. There are a few restaurants, and this is the busiest
beach on the island. The crowd is young and hip and the surf pumps. Surfboards can be
hired from the Surf Punks surf shop, right next to the Barra da Lagoa turnoff.
Giba, the guy who runs the surf shop, also has a comfortable pousada, a short walk
from Joaquina for an early morning surf. Dune-surfing is also popular on the Joaquina
dunes, and you can hire a board right there.

The three main beaches to the south are the most remote, and quite spectacular. Praia
do Campeche has a few barracas, and the beach is long enough for everyone to find a
private patch of sand. Praia da Armação is similar. As at Campeche, the current is often
strong.

Pântano do Sul, at the end of the paved road, is a small fishing village with a couple
of restaurants. The mountains here close in on the sea, which is calm and protected. We
must mention here one of the best places on the island for observing birds and other
wildlife. It’s very undeveloped. To get there, you have to walk along a hilly trail from
either Armação or Pântano do Sul. Don’t miss it.

North Coast

The north coast is the most developed coast on the island, and the beaches are narrow;
however, the sea here is warm, calm, incredibly clean, and perfect for swimming.

Canasvieiras, in particular, has many apartments, families with holiday homes, and
nightlife (during the summer). In many ways it is the least attractive beach town on the
island, and plenty more construction is planned.

A few km west, Jurerê is similar to Canasvieiras but a bit quieter. Out at Praia do
Forte are the ruins of the Fortaleza de São José da Ponta Grossa, built in 1750.

West Coast

If you want to explore the west coast, the town of Sambaqui is charming and peaceful.
There are a handful of barracas, and some beachgoers on weekends. After the town
and the barracas, keep walking on the dirt road a few hundred meters for a more
private beach, or continue another km to reach an even more secluded area. Both beaches
are tiny and cozy, with good views. The road is blocked soon after this second beach.

On the southwest coast, the old colonial town of Ribeirão da Ilha has an impressive
little church, the Igreja Nossa Senhora da Lapa.

The Interior

It’s not just the beaches: the entire island is beautiful. Lagoa da Conceição is the
most famous region in the interior. The views of the lagoon, surrounding peaks and sand
dunes make for great walks or boat rides. Lots of boats are for hire right next to the
bridge. Typical costs are $20 for two hours, but the boats can take up to 10 people, so
try to get a group together. If you’re down south, the turn-off to Lagoa do Peri is at
Morro das Pedras. The lake is fun to explore.

SOUTH OF FLORIANÓPOLIS

Garopaba

The first beach town south of Florianópolis, Garopaba is 95 km from Florianópolis,
including a 15-km drive from the main BR-101 highway. A lot of surfers settled here in the
’70s, but the little town has not been overrun by tourism. The beaches are good, and you
can still see the fisherfolk and their way of life. Garopaba is now the base for Mormaii
Surfwear, who sponsors a big surfing contest in August.

Praia do Garopaba is one km from the town. Praia do Silveira, three km away, is good
for surfing, while Siriú, 11 km away, has some large sand dunes. Avoid the next town,
Imbituba: it’s polluted by a chemical plant.

Laguna

Laguna has an active fishing industry and is the center of tourism for the southern
coast. Situated on the southern point of the line that divided the Americas, between Spain
and Portugal, in the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494, it’s a historic city, settled by Paulistas
in the 1670s. Laguna was occupied by the farrapos soldiers, and declared a republic
in 1839 in the Guerra dos Farrapos, which was fought between republicans and monarchists.

Museums

If it’s a rainy day, have a look at Museu Anita Garibaldi, on Praça República
Juliana, which honors the Brazilian wife of the leader of Italian unification. The museum
is open from 8 am to 6 pm. The Casa de Anita Garibaldi, on Praça Vidal Ramos,
contains some of Anita’s personal possessions. It’s open daily from 8 am to 6 pm (closing
for lunch between noon and 2 pm).

Beaches

The best beaches in the area are out on the Cabo de Santa Marta, 16 km from the
city plus a 10-minute ferry ride. The ferry operates from 7 am to 10:30 pm. There are
beautiful dunes here, and it is possible to camp or to stay in barracas. Rooms can
also be rented in houses.

For something closer to town, try the Praia do Gi, five km north of Laguna.
There are hotels and restaurants along the beach.

From Mar Grosso, the city beach, you can take a one-hour boat ride to Ilha dos Lobos
a rather unspoiled ecological reserve.

From Mar Grosso, the city beach, you can take a one-hour boat ride to Ilha dos
Lobos,
a rather unspoiled ecological reserve.

Further South

Further south are the coal-mining towns of Tubarão and Criciúma. Unless you want to
go to the mineral baths, there’s no reason to stay in either. Both have a handful of
hotels, and are serviced by regular buses along the coastal route. From Tubarão you can
get to several mineral baths, including Termas do Gravatal (20 km), Termas da Gurada (12
km) and baths on the Rio do Pouso (19 km).

The Termas do Gravatal are very popular and have many facilities. The radioactive
waters are said to heal rheumatism, ulcers and a variety of other ailments. Unfortunately,
none of the four-star hotels in the park grounds is inexpensive. There is camping,
however, and you can easily come up from Tubarão for the day.

SÀO JOAQUIM

Not many overseas travelers come to Brazil to see snow, but if they did, this is where
they’d come. The mountains are scenic in winter. São Joaquim is Brazil’s highest city, at
1355 meters.

Bom Jardim da Serra

Bom Jardim da Serra, in the middle of the Serra do Rio do Rastro, is a hair-raising but
beautiful 45-km drive from São Joaquim. There you’ll find access to the Parque Nacional
de São Joaquim. The park is completely undeveloped, so if you want to explore, ask the
locals about hiring a guide.

Excerpts from Brazil – A Travel Survival Kit, 3rd edition, by
Andrew Draffen, Chris McAsey, Leonardo Pinheiro,  and Robyn Jones. For more
information call Lonely Planet: (800) 275-8555. Copyright 1996 Lonely Planet Publications.
Used by permission.

Buy it at
Amazon.com

Lonely Planet
Brazil – A Travel Survival Kit

by Andrew Draffen, Chris McAsey,
Leonardo Pinheiro, Robyn Jones,
704 pp.

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