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We knew Brazil was huge, but it’s only by being in this staggering 8.5 million square kilometers (3.3 million square miles) of country that its serious size has fully sunk in!

Determining where to travel, on our budget, has been the most difficult of our travelling decisions to date. We really wanted to visit the Pantanal wetlands, to see jaguars, but the cost is just too prohibitive. Likewise the Amazon. So, having decided not to travel to the Mato Grosso do Sol region, where the world’s largest tropical wetlands are found, we decided to head to the coast and travel north that way. In the meantime, we’ll keep hoping for a flight promotion so we can get to the Amazon!

An overnight bus journey took us from Foz do Iguaçu to Florianópolis, the state capital of Santa Catarina, on the island of the same name.

We were so excited to find that the bus had lie-flat beds, the first time we’ve experienced them on our South American bus journeys (and we’ve done a lot of bus travel now!)!


However, Jake wasn’t so excited upon arrival, when the welcoming committee of police and sniffer dogs sniffed out his rucksack for inspection!

We had read that Ilha de Santa Caterina (also known as Florianopolis, Flori or Ilha da Magia) harbours a number of unique neighbourhoods that are surprisingly different from each other, some small and traditional, others more modern and touristy, whilst also being a safe place to explore.

Our Airbnb Art Deco apartment for a few days was located in Neuvo Campeche, a block from the beach…lush!

Despite the squally weather upon arrival, we were greeted by incredible views out to the ocean and Ilha da Campeche.

We haven’t seen the sea for a couple of months, so it was such a tonic to walk over the soft sandy dunes to a long stretch of white sand beach.

As we approached Campeche beach, the skies greyed…

By the time we’d walked through the village and were on our return home by road, the heavens opened! We have never experienced such a terrific downpour. Luckily, we had our rain macs, but, unluckily, these proved ineffectual such was the deluge! Passing a bus shelter, we thought we’d wait…but passing cars and flooded roads = totally drenched Tamlyns!! Finally we found a hairdressers, where we were invited in until a taxi arrived to drive us home!

The next day, thankfully, the weather brightened and, after collecting a hire car, we drove to Armacao, a cute fishing village with a jumble of colourful buildings, flowers, recycled art and boats.

Strolling over a bridge and using boulders as stepping stones, we came to the edge of a peninsula…

…we watched a colony of ant-like surfers waiting in wetsuits for awesome waves.

Fishing nets carpeted the ground, whilst tiny boats bobbed in the waves waiting patiently for their fishermen.

From the shore, we learnt how some locals catch fish without need for boats.

The next day, we discovered more of these less touristy, local places, in a neighbourhood called Ribeiro da Ilha.

Walking up to the proudly situated church, in the middle of a deserted square, we admired the neat rows of old colonial painted houses backing onto the water’s edge.

Peace!

Later, we drove via Lagoa da Conceicao to Praia da Joaquina, where we found huge sand dunes.

It was mega windy and cold, so we quickly ran up them to catch the views before heading homeward bound!

Out shopping, we discovered the largest avocados we’ve ever seen! They were the size of small balloons!


Whilst on the topic of food, we found this gorgeous cafe round the corner from our apartment, which served the most delicious bread and coffee, yum!

Just as it’s nickname suggests, this is an Island of Magic x