Campeche Island

••• Pousada Vila Tamarindo Eco Lodge (www.tamarindo.com.br)

Campeche Island (Ilha do Campeche) is one of the top attractions for ecotourism and Adventure travel in Florianópolis. Easy to reach from Florianópolis, the island listed as an Archaeological and Landscape Heritage Site by IPHAN (Brazil's National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute) is open to controlled visitation.

 

Hills covered with Atlantic rainforest, through which run some trails; clear and calm waters, great for snorkeling; and over 100 petroglyphs in several archaeological sites are great reasons to visit the island.

In the high season (about Dec.15 - March 15), Ilha do Campeche can be reached from three points in Florianópolis: Praia do Campeche, Praia da Armação and Barra da Lagoa. In the low season, only from Praia do Campeche.

Visits are possible throughout the year. Praia da Enseada, a small beach, is the only part of the island visitors can stay on without a certified guide. If you plan on hiking and snorkeling, visits must be scheduled in advance with local receptive tour agencies (see below). The guides who do the transportation can help you with information about what is necessary to visit.

A preservation fee is charged: R$5 for 30 minutes on the island, R$10 for an hour and R$15 for an hour and a half.

Snorkeling:

If you enjoy snorkeling, this is one of the best places in Floripa to do it because of the clear waters. However, there are jellyfish.

Some local agencies include Campeche Island snorkeling on their tours:

Getting to the Island from Campeche Beach:

The shortest way to the island - five minutes - is from Praia do Campeche. The transportation is done on inflatable boats by the Campeche Boater Association (Associação de Barqueiros do Campeche). The return ride costs R$50 (cash).

"All the conductors are certified and all the boats and safety vests are registered and up to par with all legal requirements," said the association's president, Rosemeri Dilza Leal.

The boats can carry up to six people, each with their safety vest. In the high season, the association works with three boats. They can keep coming and going all day, depending on the demand, but can only carry up to 40 people per day to stay within the allowed quota of visitors.

In the low season, when the boats from Armação and Barra da Lagoa are not touring, they can take some more - ocean conditions allowing.

"In the summer, the sea is usually calmer. In the low season, there's often a South wind that makes it rough, so if a tourist wants to go to the island, it's always important to call us in advance," said Rosemeri. "We know if conditions will be good one day in advance."

In the summer, the departure point is at the right end of Campeche (looking out to sea). In the low season, the ride must be scheduled in advance at the association headquarters (Avenida do Campeche 162. in the back, phone 55-48-3338-3160, barqueirosdocampeche@gmail.com). The association has English-speaking members.

Getting to Campeche Island from Armação:

From Armação, you can go to Campeche with members of the local fishermen's association.

The boats are also inspected and the boaters, certified. Prices vary according to low or high season, but usually cost just about the same as the ride from Campeche, though this trips lasts about 40 minutes, one way. Available from mid-December to mid-March.

Getting to Campeche Island from Barra da Lagoa:

The longest, but also very scenic way to the island is via schooner from Barra da Lagoa. Again, the trips costs about as much as the alternatives - but it takes about one hour and a half.

Tip: Travelers prone to seasickness have choices of how to get to Campeche Island, but the sea can be quite rough even in the high season.