As part of my side trip to visit Carlos in Brazil, we decided to go for a different beach experience than usual – trek to a secluded one in Florianópolis.
Florianópolis is the capital of Santa Catarina, the state where Carlos is from in the south of Brazil. Everytime I visit we fly through here, so we always stay at least a day of two. Most of the city is actually an island along the coast. There are no less than 42 beaches (!!!) on this island (I have no idea how Carlos ever focused in school) and they are all flawless.
Praia da Lagoinha do Leste is a completely secluded and unspoiled beach that can only be accessed through hiking or by boat (praia is portuguese for beach). There are two ways to hike in, both via other beaches that are accessible by road. The first way is from the north, starting at Praia do Matadeiro – this route is supposedly very scenic, but takes about 3 hours. The second way is from the south, starting at Pântano do Sul – this route is not very scenic, but only takes about 1.5 hours. Naturally, we decided to trek the first way in, and the second way out, so we could experience both.
We drove to Praia do Matadeiro in the south of the island in the morning. I had been here before, but this time we crossed the beach to head into the hills. It was not a super sunny day, which was ideal. There was a narrow path to follow, but it was not well developed or marked, only wide enough for one person. However, everywhere else had dense plants and bushes, so it was obvious which way to go. The first 30-45 minutes were the toughest. The path was very steep and rocky, surrounded by forest. After that, the path clears and rewards you for your hard work.
For the next 2 hours, we trekked along the coast. It became clear why everyone says this is the scenic route because the view was incredible. We walked hill after hill along the edge. The water and rocky shore were below us and the ocean stretched far into the horizon to our left. A few times we were pretty close to the edge and I would try not to think about how one slip might send me falling down the hill. But it was also exhilarating to feel the ocean breeze and hear the waves crashing. Each time we trekked over a hill and reached a clearing, the view would be even more beautiful than the one before. We soon discovered that there were too many scenic spots to keep stopping to take pictures.
Finally, after more than 3 hours, on the last hill, the beach revealed itself. It has to be one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen, especially rewarding after trekking for so long. I sat there for some time hoping to permanently engrain this image into my memory (and the picture does not do it justice):
Looking back, those few moments made the entire trek worth it. We eventually made our way down to the beach. I remember sitting there on the empty beach feeling completely removed from civilization and at peace with nature. We did not meet a single person on the way there or back, except for a few silhouettes in the distance. It was so surreal coming from the urban jungle that is New York. It was also heart-warming to know that places like this still exist, where humans have not ruined its natural beauty.