Hike to Lagoinha do Leste Beach: Escape the Crowds in Florianapolis, Brazil
Have you ever thought of finding an almost empty beach in Florianopolis, Brazil? Read our guide on hiking to Lagoinha do Leste and Matadeiro Beach, the most beautiful beaches in Floripa.
At first, we were a bit reluctant to visit beaches near Florianopolis, because we were afraid that this part of Brazil would be too developed and too crowded, but then we decided to give it a try. So far, during our journey around South America, we focused more on exploring mountains and colonial cities and only recently we've realized that there was no proper time when we could have relaxed near the sea for longer.
Tayrona National Park in Colombia and the Galapagos Islands were the only destinations in the past seven months where we jumped in the sea (although the water in September on the Galapagos Islands was too refreshing, so we had to wear a swimsuit), so we knew it is time to make it up to ourselves.
Luckily, we soon found out that Florianopolis is a great place to spend a couple of relaxed days.
The island offers 42 beaches to choose from, all of them are clean, the place is overall safe with many grocery stores, bars, and restaurants around, and the infrastructure allows travelers to enjoy Florianopolis even without the necessity of having a car.
But the excitement of not doing anything wore off after one day (we are just not very good at it), so we were soon started looking for an activity which would have combined swimming in the sea, nice crowd-less beach and a small hike.
Florianopolis (in this article, Florianopolis or the shortcut Floripa refers to the Santa Catarina Island) has some easy hikes that are great for beginner hikers, families or all adventure seekers who want to spend their time a bit more actively. Most of the hikes are short and take under 2 hours to finish on well-maintained trails.
The trek from the Pantano do Sul to the Lagoinha do Leste and from there to Matadeiro Beach and subsequently to Armacao Beach was our favorite thing among all the activities we'd done on this beautiful Brazilian island, so we've created this guide to help you plan the trip as we found very little information about this hike and overall about southern tip of Santa Catarina Island.
HOW TO GET TO THE START OF THE TRAIL
There is no public road access to the beach which makes it great for everyone who is looking for a peaceful retreat from busy beaches on the island. This means the only way how to get there is on foot or by boat from Pantano do Sul or Armacao.
You can get to the beginning of the trail by car, taxi, or by bus. The way how to reach the trailhead by public transport depends on the area of the island where are you staying.
We stayed in a popular area among backpackers, Lagoa Da Conceicao, so from here, we had to take a bus 841 (or 843) to Terminal Integracao Do Rio Tavares where we had to change bus going to Pantano do Sul (564 or 560).
All the buses go every half an hour or so, that's why it took us almost two hours to get to the beginning of the trail, so plan accordingly.
HOW TO GET AROUND THE ISLAND
The easiest way is to rent a car, it's also the most time saving, and might be the best option when short on time.
The most expensive way is getting around by taxi (Uber works here), or you can save some money and use the public transport, which is cheap, reliable and goes frequently, but is not as flexible as other two options.
The bus ride costs R 4.40 per person, and you don't need to pay for transfers when changing buses on terminals.
TRAIL DESCRIPTION (FROM PANTANO DO SUL VIA MATADEIRO BEACH TO ARMACAO)
Once you get off the bus, cross the road, and you will see a sign saying Lagoinha do Leste Trail. Climb the short but steep hill, and after about 50 meters there is another sign to the left sending you on the actual trail.
The first part will lead you through a forest, which provides a welcoming shade from the sun. There are only a few views along the way and not many reasons to stop. The trail is straightforward, and you can't get lost, it can be muddy after heavy rain though.
Once you get to the Lagoinha do Leste, you can make a short side trip on the hill on your right which will amaze you by the view overlooking the beach and the ocean with a couple of islands. This is a must-do, and it is worth to climb the hill despite the heat or tiredness. The climb is steep (for us it was the hardest part of the whole trail), and you might struggle a bit if you are wearing only flip-flops, especially on the way down.
When back at the beach (after you take a well-deserved break filled with swimming and sunbathing) walk to the farthest point of the beach, where you will see the path climbing up. After the climb, the trail goes through an open grassy area with awesome views of the ocean and is mostly flat, then continues above some rocky cliffs.
After an hour or so, you will enter the forest again and later emerge on Matadeiro Beach which you need to cross to get to Armacao (from where you can take a bus back, or call a taxi to a place where you left your car), or you can carry on a while to check the Armacao beach out.
THE WAY WE DID IT
After we arrived on the island, we spent the afternoon on a favorite Mole Beach close to the place we stayed in. In the evening we checked the map, and after a quick discussion, we decided to go to the south part of the island, where we hoped to find a beautiful strip of sandy beach without road access. And no road access always means fewer people.
We packed only a few things in the morning and went to the bus terminal without any idea of how to get there.
The guy at the counter was helpful and wrote on a piece of paper the two bus lines we needed to take to get there. Unfortunately, we couldn't find the place where we were supposed to change the bus on the map, so we asked the money collector on the bus to let us know where to get off.
We changed the bus at the Terminal Integracao Do Rio Tavares and after almost two hours long ride, finally reached the starting point of the hike.
The beginning of the trail is on the main road close to the bus stop, and you have to walk about 50 meters back then turn right (facing north direction), and after another steep 50 meters turn left and walk through a wooden gate - there is a sign announcing the start of the path.
From now on, there is only one way to go. Up.
The trail snaked through a lush forest with low trees and dense bushes, and as we were climbing higher the sweat started to pour from us and in a remarkably short time, our clothes were drenched.
At the top we stopped for a short break, so far we couldn't see the beach, but that was about to change soon. In a couple of minutes, we got the first glimpse of Lagoinha do Leste beach. And then another. We couldn't see the whole beach strip from there, but the far end looked totally empty. We passed some people with boards on the way down, and suddenly the forest ended, and we walked right into a long sandy beach.
It was around eleven when we reached our destinations, and the sun was getting pretty strong.
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We thought about jumping into the sea straight away but decided to hike to the viewing point first. The climb itself was much shorter than the previous, but steeper at the same time. The sign at the beach said 30 minutes to the top, but I think we got there a little bit faster.
After we had a small lunch while sitting on the rocks at the top, we took some photos and headed back to the beach. Going down was unquestionably more difficult than going up.
Finally, we took a dip in the sea.
As it was getting late, we walked across the beach to the farthest end and climbed another hill.
At some point, I lost my lens cap and went looking for it all the way down and back. I managed to find it under a thorny plant, and we could continue the hike.
Then we reached a sheltered grassy patch, no one was around, the wind stopped blowing, and it was a very peaceful experience. We could only see a bright blue color of the ocean with tiny white caps moving fast toward us.
It was time to get moving.
The sun was still scorching, and we got sunburnt, despite the fact we used sunscreen several times that day.
At another viewpoint, we met a group of six walking in the opposite direction, a mix of Brazilians and foreigners. We talked to them about Rio de Janeiro for a while and got mixed information. While locals told us it is safe (when you don't walk where you shouldn't and do not show off your phone or jewelry), fellow foreigners told are to be careful, especially when we look how we look, like gringos.
After a while, we left the group and walked straight into another forest.
Finally, we reached the Matadeiro beach, with crowds, umbrellas, and seats, and plenty of sellers. What a difference! We walked the whole length of the beach only to reach Armacao, from where we caught the bus back.
WHAT TO EXPECT ON Lagoinha DO LESTE HIKE
Expect beautiful sandy beach, Lagoinha do Leste (you will get the best view from the hill on the right side of the beach when facing the sea), dense forests, great yet easy hike, and stunning views.
The trail will take you away from the crowds, allows you to enjoy the almost empty beach and reconnect with nature.
WHAT TO PACK
We visited the island at the beginning of February (Brazilian summer) and had a beautiful hot and sunny weather all the time (although, what we understood, this is not usual even in the summer).
Bring lots of water, a snack unless you want to buy overpriced food and drinks on the beach, a strong sunscreen 50+ factor, bathing suit, and closed shoes. You might consider bringing a mosquito repellent as well.
The trail was in good condition when we did the hike and met several people walking in flip-flops, though the trail gets muddy after rain.
Waterproof Dry Bag | This is a great waterproof daypack for all water activities.
Travel Towel | Light and fast drying towel is the best choice for the sandy beaches.
Sunscreen | We used SPF 50+ every day in Brazil.
WHERE TO STAY ON SANTA CATARINA ISLAND
To easily visit the south of the island, we can recommend the following accommodation in Florianopolis.
Casa Mar Campeche | Reasonably priced hotel has an outdoor pool, free wifi, continental breakfast and is close to Campeche town with all necessary services.
Native Pousada E Hostel | Located in the popular and well-connected Lagoa de Conceicao area, this hotel offers both, private rooms and dormitories, but honestly, for this price, we've probably never seen more beautiful hostel than this one.
The Hyperion Boutique Hotel | Stylish and clean boutique hotel in a good location.
Alternatively, search for your accommodation via Hostelworld.
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