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Known throughout Brazil as the ‘Magic Island,’ Florianopolis has plenty to offer in terms of natural beauty and outdoor sports. Hiking enthusiasts can find trails that lead through Atlantic rainforests to postcard-worthy beaches, or climb mountains for that perfect seafront view. Options abound in Florianopolis, and here are the ten best trails to discover.
The northern tip of the island Jurerê is known for its nightlife, but the area has plenty to offer day hikers as well. Forte de Jurerê, or the Jurerê Fort, is easily accessible by car and requires a small fee to enter this historical site. The fort was built in 1740 and isn’t very large, but it is an important part of Florianopolis’ history. After an easy walk through the fort continue down the hill to the beach and enjoy the tranquil waters and rustic beach bars.
This trail is an excellent option for those staying in the city center of Florianopolis, as it is located just a short drive away in the Corrego Grande neighborhood. The trailhead is easy to access at the end of the Rua Sebastião Laurentino da Silva, but go during the week for a more secluded hike to a waterfall and swimming hole that’s perfect for cooling down during Brazil’s sweltering summer days.
This easy trail takes less than 15 minutes and offers hikers a scenic hop from one fantastic beach – Praia Mole – to the next – Praia Galheta – the latter of which is known for its excellent surfing, gorgeous surroundings, and for being the only nude-optional beach in Florianopolis. The path begins at the north end of Praia Mole and is generally clear but can get muddy with heavy rains. Take everything for a day at the beach with you as this location usually does not have any facilities, except in the height of summer when there is a stand to buy drinks.
At the far south end of the island hikers will find another opportunity to explore a deserted beach with the Naufragados trail. This route begins at the end of Rodovia Baldicero Filomeno, where hikers will likely have to pay for parking at the end of the road. Forty-five minutes of hiking through the Atlantic rainforest will land hikers on Naufragados beach, which is in a protected natural zone, making it a pristine example of the island’s natural beauty at its best.
Explore the history of Florianopolis through Costa da Lagoa, where an old fishing village still stands and is only accessible via boat or on foot through this trail. The trail begins at the northern end of the small town of Lagoa da Conceição, located at the end of Rua João Henrique Gonçalves. It winds past homes and through the hills and is easy to follow, but has a few climbs and can be rocky in some spots. Hikers can also take a boat back to the main dock in Lagoa for a fee.
This is Florianopolis hiking at its finest. The Lagoinha do Leste trail combines walks through the Atlantic rainforest, sweeping ocean views and, best of all, a secluded beach to reward hikers. Located in the south of the island, be prepared for at least an hour and a half of hiking to arrive at the beach, and there are limited facilities – if any – once there. There may be a boat service to bring weary hikers back to one of the two trail heads for a fee. Hikers can begin the trail at Praia Matadeiro, or from the southern side at Panatano do Sul beach.
Florianopolis has a variety of environments from rainforest to beaches to sand dunes, and the dunes at Praia Joaquina are perfect for hikers looking to test their stamina but still have ocean views. There are no specific trails, which makes the dunes a great place to wander without worrying about an overcrowded path. Ambitious hikers could begin at Joaquina and traverse the dunes all the way to the lake, or Lagoa da Conceição, and grab a taxi, Uber or a bus back to the beach.
On the island’s eastern side is the trail of the Morro das Aranhas, or Spider Hill, but don’t let the name scare you. The trail is easy to access from Praia Santinho, and the Costão do Santinho beach resort is an easy landmark to know you’re in the right place. Walk south along the beach until it ends to reach the trailhead. Hikers will also see some original archaeological drawings from the island natives at the beginning of the trail. Then, they can either choose to climb to the top of the hill or continue along the coast to Praia Moçambique. Be prepared for an hour and a half hike one way and note that the only facilities available are at Praia Santinho at the beginning of the trail.
This hike involves a bit more planning, as you will need to take a boat to the Ilha do Campeche from either Praia Armação or Barra da Lagoa. Once on the island, though, the crystal blue, calm waters evoke a feeling of the Caribbean, which is perfect for relaxing before or after a guided hike on the island. Ilha do Campeche is a protected nature reserve and hikers need to go with a guide at their designated times, but it is an excellent way to get to know more of the biodiversity of the region without a very strenuous hike and with a gorgeous beach just steps away.
A quiet fishing village on the eastern side of the island, Barra da Lagoa is the ideal location for experiencing Florianopolis from a local’s perspective. This hike to Barra’s natural pools is easy to access: just head to the main beach area of Barra da Lagoa and cross the footbridge, and continue following the footpath through the neighbourhood until you reach the beach again. This is an easy walk with less than 30 minutes on the trail, but it unveils a different side of the island and offers a chance to swim in the gorgeous natural tide pools.