The grand return of ‘The Beach’


  • Foz du Iguaçu – Florianopolis
  • Florianopolis – Lagoa/ Barra de Lagoa

Just as I started to drift off to sleep, the bus driver decided it was time to take a 30 minute break, at 12.30am. I was quite grateful for the toilet but really just wanted my rest and so dug out my sleeping bag liner, kicked back the recliner and slept right through until 6am, dozing on and off until 10am. It was the first time I’d felt well rested after a bus journey!

From the Rivodovia (bus station) in Florianopolis, I had to catch a public bus first to the East of the island, Lagoa town. Then from here I had to get the bus to Barra de Lagoa and walk about 5 minutes across the water intlet and along the coastal pathway. My hostel, Barra Beach Club, was positioned right on the front of the beach. The rooms, reception and bar all looked out over the water and it was beautiful.

I arrived about 1.30pm which meant I could check in immediately. I followed this with a short walk back to Barra to grab some food and water and then dug out my bikini and sun cream ready for an afternoon at the beach (finally!). I’ve not seen a beach or pool since Sydney and it was pure bliss to be back by the ocean, with the coastal breeze taking the edge off the humid Brazilian mid-30 temperatures.

The beach was just 25m from the hostel and I found a perfect little spot for 1 between two larger rocks. I spent the rest of my afternoon sleeping, reading and taking a few dips in the ocean to cool off. I felt myself getting quite warm and did remember to reapply suncream however, was shocked at how awfully sunburnt I’d managed to get in 1 afternoon. Just like being back in Byron all over again. Damn you, fair British skin! My tan was doing so well before Christmas too.

Upon my return, I sat in the lounge area briefly and it was here that I met Graham, Curtis and John (from Ireland and the US). They all had plenty of interesting things to say and made for very good company. We decided to head up to the bar for dinner and drinks and stayed there for the rest of the night.

It was at the bar that we met Nicky and Neil. They were travelling 42 countries over the next 54 weeks and had so many amazing little anecdotes, life experiences and generally funny chat to fill our evening with. The night turned out to be a lot of fun, sharing stories old and new whilst we nursed a few pints. No one was heading out as we’d all planned to go to a pool party the following day however, it had been a good start to Florianopolis (and a good recommendation from Matt, who I’d met in Airlie Beach, to go to Barra Beach Club).

The following morning at breakfast was when I met Caitlyn and Rachel. Finally some girls! They were absolute angels and also heading to the pool party that later that day, like the rest of the hostel. They introduced us to more people from the hostel including Naomi, James, Eddie, Doug, Becca, Joe, Trent, Rocky and two girls who had just arrived, Fran and Rhona. Our new group, the “Leche Caliente’s”!

Before heading about to the pool party, Graham, Curtis and I decided to take a short hike to the nearby “natural pools”. The trail went through the forest and along the coastline and was very orettt, but the pools were in fact a little cove of the sea. Still, very beautiful and extremely refreshing.

When we got back to the hostel, got ready and started drinking, the group gelled so quickly and there was a fab atmosphere. We started drinking at the hostel about 1pm, jumped on a transfer at 3pm and got to the pool an hour later, bursting for the toilet and sufficiently drunk.

This was P12! It was the absolute best party that I have ever been to, ever! There was an awesome house and electro DJ, giant pool for us to all dance in, big sun loungers and a beach. When the rain started the party kicked off even more and everything just went from great to greater. Everyone was on exceptional form and in the Brazilian party spirit. It was just the absolute most awesomest afternoon in the entire world.

During all the fun, I’d manage to jump in the pool with my locker ticket so when it came to the end of the night, I had a very eventful 10-minute chat with the lady who worked the lockers. She was convinced my bag was the white one whilst I claimed I didn’t recognise anything in it. She was, of course, right and what’s more, proceeded to show me my name written on said bag. Well done Gabs.

Anyway, we made it back to the bus of which there was a lot of comotion to get on. We had just enough seats for those in the hostel only and were ruthless to any outsiders trying to steal our party bus! And party bus it was as Rihanna kept us entertained the entire journey home. We didn’t sit down once and just danced, sang and sufficiently annoyed the driver.
When we arrived back at the hostel, we stocked up on alcohol to take down to the beach with us. This was where our party continued in to very much the early hours of the morning. Everyone huddled in one spot and shaed lots of stories, being extremely open with each other. I however, spent a million hours attempting to speak Spanish to try and include the native speakers who were down there with us. And it was at this time when Monkey Man made his first appearance to the world!

Monkey Man had the most hair I have ever seen on a human being and literally behaved like an animal. He would run up to me on all fours, nibble at my shoulders and run off. To the point where Rhona and Graham had to step in and rescue me from his grasps! He did provide endless entertainment that night and insisted Eddie and Rhona litter pick the beach when we finally went to sleep at 6am. Although I also spent the next hour thinking in Spanish and struggled to sleep!

A consequence of our heavy night was that I slept through breakfast and made it up just in time for lunch! We didn’t have that much planned though as everyone was in an extremely fragile state. And after our first attempt to visit the beach resulted in a thousand jellyfish surrounding us, we chose a beach slightly further away where we could swim, sunbathe and sleep. Ironically, it was here that Caitlyn did actually get stung by a jellyfish but at least we could swim relatively sting-free.

That evening was just spent up in the bar and after a couple of drinks, I really just needed to sleep so bailed around midnight. The clocks also went back an hour so it was in fact 1am and I didn’t feel so bad about my early night. I later found out everyone went back to the beach again that evening but there was no way I could hack another late one after the “early morning” the select few of us had the previous day.

My third day in Florianopolis was meant to be my last but straight after breakfast I went to book another night as I knew I needed more than just 4 days/3 nights there, what with all the partying. There was also a pre-carnival free street party in Florianopolis city centre which we were all planning to go to and I was not willing to miss.

Barra de Lagoa had little to offer in the way of carnival costumes but we attempted as best we could with feather headbands, glitter and flowers. Eddie chose a fetching pair of shockingly tight and bright pink and blue hot pants and on we piled to the world’s hottest bus. As we got closer to Flori we watched the temperature climb 1 degree per 10 minutes of driving, until it read 42. At the same time, the sweat increased one more drip from all of our faces too! It got to the point where outside the buses was actually cooler, despite it being 40 odd degrees.

Regardless, we made our way to the beer tent and then the raised platform near the DJ booth and got our boogie right on. Ian, Graham and I were so super sweaty (I found some fellow Sweaty Betty’s) so kept taking regular cool down breaks until Ian stole all our fun and Graham and I were left to fend for ourself. We found this to actually be the funniest 15 minutes of our night whilst we loudly laughed about all our openly racist comments. But hey, who doesn’t love a racist joke, right?!

The party finished with Brazil’s biggest DJ playing the closing set. I can only describe this street party as the most crazy, most busy, most wild and flamboyant party I have ever been to. And it was all free and just in the streets! So good that the girls working in the hostel also came to party as they knew it wasn’t to be missed. It was an afternoon full of new experiences in Brazil.

Again the bus ride home was hilarious and we took our party back down to the beach for a 3rd night. Monkey man did not make his return, which I was extremely grateful for and the Spanish speakers were not so abundant meaning I could just think in English for one night! We swam, we drank, we laughed and when most people had gone to bed, Rhona and I joined Joe and Tom, two Australians that I had met back in BA, to continue chatting up in the bar until the early hours of the morning. We were always the last to bed!

My fifth and final day at Barra Beach Club was consumed by checking out and a morning of life admin. But we all took the initiative to venture further afield than our local beaches and hopped on the bus to Mole Beach. It was so crystal clear and stunningly beautiful, although the waves and currents were strong and dragging us along the beach. Still, it was exactly what we needed to wake up a bit and cure our hangovers!

Our slightly smaller group of Leche Caliente’s (as a consequence of Becca, Joe, Doug, Rachel and James leaving us the previous day, to be joined by Dan and Harry but a few others hadn’t yet risen from bed when we went to the beach) made a very wise choice to follow the beach with an all-you-can-eat buffet and stuff ourselves with salad and vegetables finally. It was excellent but we soon all crashed and head back to the hostel to shower, sleep and just attempt to gain back some of our dignity and health that had been deposited across Florianopolis island over the last few days.

Sadly at 7.45pm, Graham and I had to leave to get our bus to São Paulo. It was a very sad goodbye to but almost everyone was re-grouping in Rio for carnival which was so exciting. The group had been a fantastic bunch and all people I was genuinely happy to have spent my time with.

So, 113 days in to ‘life from a bag’ and I am well and truly shot (and concerned I won’t last Rio!) but Florianopolis certainly has my heart (and soul) for now. When can I come back?!

Gabby x


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