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Ask the Locals Travel Guide: Florianopolis, Brazil

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Florianopolis BrazilPeter is broadcasting his radio show from Costao de Santinho Resort in Florianópolis, Brazil, where the World Travel and Tourism Council is hosting the 9th annual Global Travel & Tourism Summit.

If all you know about Brazil is Rio de Janeiro, you’re in for a treat.

Florianópolis is the capital city of the state of Santa Catarina, located in southern Brazil.

Its unique geography is broken in half—a small peninsula attached to the mainland and the separate Santa Catarina Island—and features dozens of beaches, fishing villages and Old World colonial architecture.

We checked in with some locals to find out their favorite parts of the city:

Filipe Demeterco, president of Incoporadora Floripa Shopping S/A

With as many as 42 beaches to choose from, Demeterco recommends Lagoinha do Norte Beach, located on the extreme north edge of the island (about a 30-minute drive from the city center). “Its location allows Lagoinha to have the most transparent water of Florianópolis and, at the same time, very calm water,” he says. “But don’t go there if you are looking to surf.”

Ruins of LagoinhaFrom here, you can see Arvoredo Island, an Environmental Federal Reserve that has some of the best diving in Brazil—but access is heavily regulated by the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources. If you’re planning to spend some time by this beach, there are many small pousadas—small, locally owned inns and boutique hotels. For something a little more upscale, try the Lagoinha Hotel, a Mediterranean-style hotel that features a very nice restaurant on the property. www.hotellagoinha.com.br

Located in the exclusive Praia de Jurerê beach, Pescador Lobo Restaurant is a “foot on sand” restaurant, referring to the beachside tables.  “Although it is simple the food is very nice and fresh,” says Demeterco.

The restaurant is pretty much the first thing you see when you arrive at the beach, so you can’t miss it. “I love this place because you feel in touch with nature and with the roots of Florianópolis. The view is priceless,” he promises.

SurfersAnd while you’re there, visit the area’s other ritzy beach, Jurerê Internacional, and then check out Forte de Ponta Grossa, an old army fort that dates back to the mid-18th century. The once-impenetrable fort is now open to the public for guided or self-guided tours.

The best fish in the city, according to Demeterco, is about a 40-minute drive from the city center in Ribeirão da Ilha, an old fishing village on the south part of the island. “It’s worth every minute,” he guarantees.

Ostradamus Restaurant not only boasts one of the best views in town, but its house specialty is oysters, prepared in a variety of ways, and muqueca, a seafood stew served with red-orange dendê (palm) oil.  “It’s very Brazilian, and very good.” Once you’re there, Demeterco recommends walking around to appreciate the nearby native handcraft shops and the lovely old houses and churches. www.ostradamus.com.br.

Since Florianópolis is big into surf culture, check out the Mormaii megastore in the Floripa Shopping Center. It’s Brazil’s most internationally recognized surf brand. 55-48-3331-1000

Pedro Grande, translator and university student

Brazilian DancersLike most of Brazil’s major cities, Florianópolis has a thriving nightlife, and the party goes on until the early morning hours … hey, when in Brazil, you’ve got to party like a Brazilian.

Start the evening off at Opcao Light, located the city center, for a fresh Brazilian seafood meal.

Then grab a caipirinha or two at Levion, a relaxed, gay-friendly lounge.

Once you’ve had your fill of drag queens and go-go boys, join the uninhibited late-night club crowd at Warung Beach Club, Kiwi Bar or Sky Beach—even if you’re not into the house-music scene, these hotspots are great for people-watching and knocking back more cachaça-infused cocktails.

For more information on Florianopolis, tune in to Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio this weekend.

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