In Floripa, Life’s a Beach

If there is one profession I have mastered, it’s being a beach bum. Growing up on the beach has its pros and cons.

Pros:

  • I can handle sitting on the beach all day because I know how to prepare.
  • I know what dangerous water looks like and to avoid it like the plague.
  • Sand, sweat, and sunscreen are a daily reality.
  • I don’t have to pay for blonde hair.
  • I get to run on the beach every morning to start my day.

Cons:

  • I’m 38 but my skin looks 78.
  • My dermatologist and I are tight.
  • I have permanently embedded tan lines.
  • Rust.
  • Hurricane parties are fun but hurricanes aren’t.

So when I decided to travel to a Brasilian island with over 40 beaches, I knew this was a trip for me. The beaches in Brazil have so much character unlike my long, flat, less-than-exciting landscape (I do have some incredible sunrises). Here are the beaches I was able to spend some time frolicking:

Praia Mole – The closest beach to our neighborhood in Lagoa da Conceicao is Praia Mole. Popular amongst surfers and the LGTBQABCDE community (no offense to this community, I’ve just lost track of how many letters there are now), it has a good mix of all demographics of beachgoers. At the north end, there is a fairly large gay club called Bar do Deca that is only accessible via the beach. It’s quite the happening spot and an INCREDIBLE people watching venue. Not judging, just plain people watching. If you enjoy oogling over male Brasilian fitness models in speedos (sungas technically) then this is your beach zone. But don’t expect to get any return eyes. It’s a man seeking man world near the bar. The rest of the beach to the south is bustling with families, couples, and tons of surfers.

Praia da Galheta – This is a beach for the books and is a must see if you so dare. Just a short trail hike and a little rock climbing from the north end of Praia Mole, is a nude beach that also happens to be a very gay beach. I say that with both absolute respect and intrigue. What is more fascinating than THAT people? Seriously! I couldn’t NOT go see it for myself. And wouldn’t you know, it sure as shit lives up to its claims. I spent more time on this beach than anywhere. The beach is quite long so there is plenty of room to roam. Just enough that if you desire to be nude but are somewhat shy about it, others can’t really see your jingle jangle. Many people are wearing swimsuits, but many are not. I should also mention that it is primarily a sausage fest. There were very few women but it wasn’t intimidating or creepy at all. Perhaps because I know none of the men wanted anything to do with me. LOL. But WOW it was OH so fascinating to see the characters frolicking around the beach with their jewels swaying to and fro for all to see. Some even just sit on the rocks like a predator waiting for its prey. Every size, shape, and color were meandering around and many are even just standing at the beach bar sipping on Brasilian cocktails. Pun intended. Thank god for sunglasses with mirrored lenses.

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Praia do Gravata – Gravata was one of my favorite little nooks that is only accessible via an hour long hike. We took an Uber to a drop off point on the side of the highway just before the Praia Mole beach area and hiked up a steep road to the trailhead. The trail essentially climbs up and over a small mountain and provides magnificent views of the ocean and Mole along the way. It was the first hike and beach we visited upon arrival and just so happened to be the most amazing weather day as well. We were the first ones to arrive and the water was as serene as a lake and pretty darn clear. I can’t use the phrase “crystal clear” so as not to compare it to Exuma water because it wasn’t anything close to it. But it sure was beautiful. What I love most about this small cove are the enormous boulders that are sporadically perched in the water. They look like something out of Jurassic Park and almost fake. Like I could stab a pencil in them as if they were made from styrofoam. Not so much. It really adds so much character to the beach and I didn’t want to leave. There are a few trails around the area too so you can hike to the cliffs as well. I was wandering around solo and didn’t feel like going missing that day so I turned back around before reaching the top of the cliff. We went back to this beach another day after it rained for a week straight. Bad idea. The trail is mostly clay making it extremely tough to get enough of a grip to even get up the mildest slope. But if you feel like laughing til you pee, try it.

Praia de Lagoinha do Leste – Another long hike, another great beach. This one is extremely popular amongst surfers, but not so swimmer friendly. The waves are big and the seas a bit rough but still an experience that I would highly recommend. I couldn’t tell you how to get there but after about an easy hour and a half hike (ok maybe longer, maybe 2 hours) we reached the beach. There was only one little shack that served food and drinks but not much else. The coolest part of this beach is the river that connects a small lake to the ocean located on the north end. A little stroll through the water and around the bend and there are several small sandy patches where you can leave your belongings and swim around. If you have any fear of fish or crabs, this is not your ideal activity. Little clear fish nibble on your skin and the occasional crab pinches the toes. It’s a relaxing little spot where I could float for hoursssss, if only I had an inner tube. Note to self. To get back home, you can either hike (not recommended) or take a boat back to Pantano do Sul and grab an Uber from there. You hop on a dinghy first that takes you to what looks like a wooden row boat. They load up several dinghy’s full of people onto the row boat and then just enjoy the most stunning boat ride around the cliffs and to the beach where you are dropped off.

Pantano do Sul – After the spending the day on Lagoinha do Leste, you can hire the aforementioned row boat to drop you off here. And this beach is friggin adorable. The homes along the side of the mountain are colorful and quaint and reminds me of Italy. I’ve never been to Italy. It just SEEMS like it looks like Italy. Probably not even close. I digress. This part of the beach is dotted with little bars and restaurants that have tables right on the sand and at high tide, the water comes right up under your feet. We were starved and headed directly into a fascinating restaurant plastered with little notes in every square inch of the place. Then finished just in time for the most amazing sunset, as you can see below.

Ilha do Campeche – I’m not even sure where to start here. After two failed attempts to hire a boat on two different weekends to take us to this very popular island, we finally secured our spots. It just so happened to be on the worst possible weather day EVER. When we arrived at the dock on Praia da Armacao, it started to sprinkle and honest to goodness, it did not stop raining the entire day. Problem is, when you are dropped off on the shores of Ilha do Campeche, you have to stay all four hours until the boat picks you back up. Unfortunately, there is no cover to be found but we rented umbrellas to keep us out of the worst of it. That didn’t work out well. We were cold and wet for so long that our fingers and toes had shriveled into raisins. The island is protected by IPHAN as it has several archeological artifacts and sites throughout so I’m sure it would have been a fascinating place to explore. It is also home to some sort of squirrel monkey things that we were told will steal your belongings but we didn’t see any. I wouldn’t have come out of the jungle in that weather either. Had the weather been nice, the beach would have been really beautiful. Calm, flat, clear water from end to end. Sadly, it was just too cold for me to enjoy any of it. This FL beach bum is cold in anything less than 80 degrees. There are also some guided hikes you can do but again, the weather was so awful we didn’t get to take advantage of those. I’ll have to put this on my list to visit next time.

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Coincidentally I flew over the island on the way in and wondered how to get there.  Needless to say the weather was perfect on this day.  

Barra da Lagoa – A great beach for families, swimmers, and novice surfers. This is where my surf lessons with Evandro Santos (hit him up if you go!) took place as the beach is long and has small enough waves that I couldn’t die. I suppose I could have but it was highly unlikely. There were several restaurants and shops along the southern end. The majority of the shoreline is largely undeveloped so you’ll spend most of your time on the southern end. Also at the southern end are the natural pools. A short hike over the pedestrian bridge, through a small village, and along a rocky shoreline ends at Piscinas Naturais Da Barra da Lagoa. We caught it on a rougher day so I wasn’t keen on jumping in but many others did. The pictures of this area on a calm day are gorgeous. It’s certainly worth the little jaunt but not as incredible as I was hoping. There is a small cove beach along the way that quickly became one of my favorites. I just wish I could spend a little more time there. Check that one out and you can avoid the crowds on the more popular beaches.  I only have ridiculous surfing pictures from this beach.

Here is the natural pools hike:

I think I covered just about all the beaches I visited. Not too bad for 6 weeks but I would like to see some others if I ever make my way back to Floripa. Please try to make it to Galheta. This is Brasil. The most judge free place I’ve ever been. Straight, gay, conservative, liberal, whatever the hell, just go hang out there for a few hours and grab a caipirinha at Silvio’s little shack. Also grab a choripan con quiejo and enjoy eating and watching sausages simultaneously.  Saude!

 

 

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