By Roy Heale
On my second visit to Florianopolis I was fortunate enough to be hosted by local experts Marta Dalla Chiesa and Lesley Cushing, the co-owners of Brazil Eco Journeys, who are the only LGBT tour operators in Southern Brazil. Although it was my second visit to this wonderful, natural paradise island they managed to show me places and attractions that I had not discovered before. They have lived in Florianopolis—affectionately known by locals as Floripa— for seven years, their company has been assisting LGBT visitors since they arrived. Their knowledge of the island and beyond is second to none. So whether you are visiting for the first time or returning for more of the beaches, sun and fun, be sure to contact them before you leave home for an assurance of the perfect island gay vacation.
Traveling around the island we visited several beaches and villages from the north end to the southern tip reminding me of the diversity on this small island with options for surfing or swimming and relaxing. We spent time at the sand dunes of Mocambique Beach, the International Jurere Beach and village, the Centro Historic Old Town, and my personal favourite Pantano do Sul Beach. We also visited the old Fort of Sao Jose on Ponta Grossa which was built in 1740 and provides great views of the island, the beaches, and the ocean. These are only a few of the highlights and in just five days we managed to traverse the entire island several times with different stops each day. That is one of the pleasures on an island which is 54 km long and 18km wide at its largest point—everything is easily accessible with only a short distance to travel. With 42 diverse beaches, fresh water lagoons, mountains, and more, Floripa is the ideal place for an outdoor adventure with nature.
Naturally this vacation paradise offers a wide variety of restaurants from gourmet dining, to oyster shacks on the beach and everything in between. One of the most popular culinary options is the Brazilian favorite of “Buffet By The Kilo” where you fill your plate and pay for the meal by its weight. There are numerous restaurants with ocean views and, of course, fresh seafood is the main highlight on almost every menu featuring the Catch of the Day.
If you happen to find yourself in the quaint fisherman’s village of Barra de Lagoa then a visit to Gabbiani Restaurant is a must. This is one of the historic places in the small township and it began as a restaurant in 1952 and has remained in the same family for three generations. The current owners Rafael and Edson Coelho proudly display black and white photos of the community and the restaurant as it was back in the days when their grandfather started the business. Recently they have remodeled and decorated the building creating their own menu of local specialties. This is a very gay-friendly establishment with great food, attentive service, and a perfect location overlooking the beach. The Coelhos are always there to assist with menu selections or drink specialties. Be sure to ask for one of their different blends of Cachaca which is recommended by fishermen as the traditional drink before eating shellfish and is one of the ingredients for the popular Brazilian Caipirinhas. They will even share with you the secret way of drinking this strong liquor by itself.
Any visit to Floripa is bound to be a memorable vacation but Brazil Eco Journeys will ensure that you receive a true gay-friendly welcome from accommodations—like the Natur Campeche Pousada— to restaurants and of course where to find the gay beach. Pack plenty of sun tan lotion and prepare for one or more of the spectacular beaches for relaxation or aqua sports.
Note: Florianopolis is the host city for the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) Annual Convention in 2012.
For More Information Visit: www.brazilecojourneys.com