The thriving centre is Lagoa da Conceição - a tourist hub packed with bars and nightclubs. Set on the edge of a lagoon, the pumping night life is accompanied by tourist prices for accommodation making this the most expensive place to stay on the island. Spend a few days here and party hard but before you blow your budget head south. At the southern end of the island you will leave behind the crowds and find a more tranquil Florianopolis, home to some of the island's most beautiful and quieter beaches.
The town of Armação makes a good place to base yourself as it is readily accessible to the centre of the island by bus (taking about 40 minutes) but still has a village atmosphere. This small town was settled in the 18th century when it was a whaling centre. Today this small fishing town offers all the facilities you will need to enjoy your stay including internet cafes, supermarkets, restaurants and bars.
There are two beaches close to each other. Armação beach offers a narrow stretch of sand to the water and is where most of the tourists go. It is closest to the Armação town centre so it is easy to stroll in for lunch at one of the per kilo restaurants.
Matadeiro beach is a short walk from the Armação town centre - accessible either by walking around the beach or over a short bridge and along a path. This stretch with its pounding surf is popular with local swimmers and surfers alike. Three small bars situated along the beach offer tables with umbrellas to shelter from the sun along with snacks from the sea and beverages. Sit and watch the men pushing wheelbarrows who race up and down the beach transporting goods for the bars and locals. From Armação try catching the bus further south for the day to some of the island's more deserted beaches such as Lagoinha de Leste, Praia dos Açores, Praia Solidão and Saquinho.
Catch the Rio Tavares bus from Centro. Then at the Rio Tavares station transfer to the Armação bus and get off at the Armação town.
PLACE TO STAY
This is budget style accommodation that is at least half the price of the more popular areas of the island. This hostel was just opened in late 2009 and used to be a family holiday home. The hostel has a relaxed, social atmosphere and is one of the few hostels to not raise its prices at Carnival. Av. Antonio Borges dos Santos number 30, Praia Armação. Tel. 99238644. myspace.com/retro.house