West Coast Beaches
Facing the mainland of Santa Catarina, the beaches north and south of Florianópolis are less spectacular (and far less touristy) than other parts of the island. The main attractions are a trio of the island’s oldest and most atmospheric Azorean fishing colonies.
Between 1748 and 1756, as a result of natural disasters and overpopulation, more than 6,000 Azorean immigrants crossed the Atlantic and settled on the protected west coast of the Ilha de Santa Catarina, where they survived by fishing, cultivating manioc, and hunting whales (whose blubber and oil was a precious fuel).
Ribeirão da Ilha (south of Floripa) and Santo Antônio de Lisboa and Sambaqui (to the north) all possess simple Portuguese colonial churches and typical Azorean whitewashed houses with blue trim. The men still make their living by fishing; in fact Ribeirão and Santo Antônio da Ilha are renowned for the mussels and oysters farmed offshore. Meanwhile, the women continue the centuries old traditions of intricate lace-making, which you can purchase in both villages.
Although the beaches are quite small—and appealingly sprinkled with fishing nets and brightly painted wooden boats—the villages themselves are pleasantly languorous. And it goes without saying that the fresh fish and seafood is fantastic—in fact, many people stop by just for lunch.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition