South Coast Beaches
The south coast beaches are the wildest and most unspoiled on Ilha de Santa Catarina. Some say they are also the most lovely, although be forewarned—the water is frio! Tourism has made very few inroads, and even asphalt has yet to reach the most remote strips of sand (in compensation, countless walking trails lead along the coast).
South of Campeche, the quaint fishing village of Armação nestles against a rugged backdrop of green hills. Although the waters of Praia da Armação are rough and dangerous, signed trails lead to nearby coves and natural pools that offer safer swimming. There’s a handful of charming pousadas, making this an excellent place to stay.
From Armação, you can walk along a trail to Praia do Matadeiro, and then continue on for another three hours through native forest to what many consider the most drop-dead gorgeous beach on the island: Praia da Lagoinha do Leste. The turquoise waters and white sand framed by lush mountains are spectacular, and an added bonus is the lagoinha, a beautiful freshwater lagoon that sits just behind the beach. The area is preserved within the Parque Municipal da Lagoinha do Leste, and as such you’ll find no signs of civilization.
Another shorter, marvelously scenic (and somewhat steep) 90-minute mountain trail leads south from Lagoinha to Pântano do Sul. Although it lacks the charm of Armação, Pântano is one of the island’s most active fishing villages, and is an ideal place to tuck into the fresh catch of the day or raw oysters. The beach isn’t the best along this coast, but swimming conditions in the protected bay are much safer.
A far more beautiful beach is Praia de Solidão, whose name, “Solitude Beach,” is quite fitting for this out-of-the-way spot that can only be reached by a steep 40-minute hike from Praia do Saquinho farther south. At one end, a waterfall cascading into a natural pool offers freshwater bathing.
Equally gorgeous and even more off-the-beaten track is Praia dos Naufragados, at the southern tip of the island. Although it can only be accessed by boat (25 minutes) or by a challenging hour-long mountain hike from Caieiras da Barra do Sul, your efforts will be amply rewarded by the paradisiacal landscapes and the bewitching views out to sea.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition