Located 95 kilometers (59 miles) south of Florianópolis, Garopaba was a tranquil Azorean fishing village until the 1970s, when its beautiful beaches and striking mountain backdrops were discovered by hippies from neighboring Rio Grande do Sul.
A decade later the surfistas moved in and, to this day, the area remains one of the country’s major surfing meccas during the summer months. Between June and November, it is also the best place on the Brazilian coast for whale-watching.
While Garopaba’s small beach is pleasant enough, the real attractions are the wilder beaches within close proximity of the village. Praia Siriú, 10 kilometers (6 miles) to the north, is a beautiful beach backed by 40-meter-high (131-feet-high) dunes that are excellent for sandboarding. Although the waves are rough, you can swim in the calm waters of the Rio Siriú.
Surfers, however, are lured by the beaches to the south, the most famous being Praia do Silveira, 3 kilometers (2 miles) from Garopaba. Another 5 kilometers (3 miles) south is the hip and happening Praia da Ferrugem, which has bars along the shore that attract visiting young Paulistanos and Gaúchos in the summer. Natural ocean pools offer a calmer alternative to otherwise big waves, but the water here is usually pretty chilly.
Accommodations and Food
Lodgings in Garopaba are generally basic, no-frills affairs, and many are only open in the summer. You can choose between Garopaba, which is more popular with families, and Ferrugem, favored by young surfistas. In Garopaba, Pousada Mares do Sul (Rua Francisco Pacheco de Sousa 393, Garopaba, tel. 48/3354-3866, www.maresdosulpousada.com.br, R$100–150 d) is a fairly nice option with large rooms and walls painted in bright tropical shades.
Perched on a hilltop above Praia de Ferrugem, the relaxed Pousada do Morro (Estrada Geral do Capão, Praia da Ferrugem, tel. 48/3254-0098, www.pousadadomorro.com.br, R$110–135) offers a variety of accommodations from double rooms to two-room apartments equipped with kitchens that sleep up to five people. Lots of vegetation and a swimming pool add to the restful atmosphere.
Garopaba and the surrounding beaches have a fair number of basic fish and seafood restaurants. A little more expensive, although more charming than most is Armazém do Mar (Rua Ptolomeu Bitencourt 44, Garopaba, tel. 48/3254-4145, 7–11 p.m. Fri.–Sat. May–Nov., noon–midnight daily Dec.–Apr., R$30–40), located in a fetching house with a great veranda that shares space with a shop selling local handicrafts. The house specialties are moqueca do armazém, featuring grouper, shrimp, squid, and octopus, and peixe do armazém, in which fresh fish is stuffed with shrimp, cream, heart of palm, and sun-dried tomatoes.
Getting to Garopaba
From Florianópolis’s Rodoviária Rita Maria, Paulotur (tel. 48/3244-2777, www.paulotur.com.br) operates daily bus service down the coast. If you’re driving from Floripa, take the BR-101 south and then turn onto the SC-434.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition