Embaú Guard is a village in the city of Palhoça, in the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina. It is located near Florianópolis, just 50 km south of the capital. This means that you can reach this little paradise in about an hour by car! By the way, this is great advice for Florianópolis’ successes and returns. It is a small community of fishermen and farmers, discovered by surfers in the early 70’s and since then considered one of the ten best waves for sports in Brazil.
According to locals, the name comes from the fact that centuries ago a pirate ship sailed in the region. As the pirates had treasures, they were forced to bury them in a chest on this coast. Over time, history developed that in the region there were treasures buried in the trunk, which eventually gave rise to the current name of the village.
Embaú, however, is of Tupi Guariana origin, a language of the Carijó Indians who lived on the coast of Santa Catarina. According to the Tupi Guarani dictionary, there are 3 possibilities for the meaning of embaú: 1) emba-u = a bica; 2) mbá-u = the last watering; 3) mbaú = the food, the drink. It was officially approved on October 27, 2016 by the World Surfing Reserve (WSR) Vision Board and the California-based Save the Waves Coalition (USA) as the ninth World Surfing Reserve (WSR), the first in Brazil.
The initiative for the bidding came from the Associação Guarda do Surf e Preservação do Embaú (ASPG), which since 2013 has sought to include the beach in the renowned network of world surfing reserves. The Save the Waves Coalitioan program has been in existence since 2009 and has as partners the International Surfing Association (ISA), the National Surfing Reserves Australia (NSR) and the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) in Stanford (USA).
It is located in a quiet area where the Rio da Madre flows, considered a “special” class by Resolution 357/2005 of the National Council for the Environment (Conama), and at the confluence of three environmental protection units: the Serra do Tabuleiro, the Coastal Environmental Protection Area (APA) and the Southern Right Whale APA, areas designated by UNESCO as an Atlantic Forest Biosphere Reserve.
The place was discovered a few decades ago by surfers and has since gained international fame for its exuberant beauty. So, if you are looking for a natural destination with a relaxed and recreational atmosphere, this is the place for you! If you are departing from Rio, SP or any other state, it is advisable to take a flight to Florianópolis International Airport (FLN) and continue your journey by car to Guarda do Embaú. This will make it easier for you to travel to other beaches and attractions in the area.
If you prefer to escape the hustle and bustle, the ideal is to travel there between March and April. These months have pleasant days and a more rigorous climate. And if you’re going to surf, avoid the months between April and July. It is forbidden to practice water sports at this time, because then there is mullet fishing.
the charm of Embaú Guard goes beyond the beautiful beach with perfect waves. The village consists of dozens of sandy roads with charming inns, restaurants and rustic bars that thrill the night of the small village. Ecological trails, isolated beaches, viewpoints, natural pools, rivers and the mystical Vale da Utopia are other attractions that tourists can discover in the region.
the beautiful beach of Embaú Guard is considered one of the best spots for surfing in Brazil and one of the 10 most beautiful in the country. Access to the huge sandbank crossed by Mãe can be done by boats guided by the local population, swimming (the preferred path for surfers) or walking when the river is low. The beauty of the region remains intact thanks to the Parque da Serra do Tabuleiro, the largest natural reserve in the state, which includes part of the village and is home to rivers, waterfalls and various wild animals.
Travel Tips for Guarda do Embaú
Don’t expect hotel chains or luxury resorts in Guarda do Embaú. As it is a Brazilian nature reserve, the Serra do Tabuleiro State Park, these large facilities do not exist in the region.
However, there are many guesthouses, hostels and vacation homes for rent to visit the destination. You will also have the opportunity to find out, during a round trip, how to go and come back on the same day and leave Florianópolis – or another nearby city where you live.
If you are looking for comfort and a good location, Villa Embaú Chalés is a good option. The rooms are very comfortable, equipped with kitchen, fridge and stove, and balconies with hammocks for relaxation. The breakfast is also wonderful, homemade and with several options of fruit juices, cakes and delicious coffee.
Another great option is the Pousada Madre Guarda, with spacious and very functional rooms. They also have a kitchen and hammocks on the balcony overlooking the river, the ideal place to enjoy the sunset in complete relaxation.
If you are planning a cheap trip, you can camp in both Guarda do Embaú and Praia do Maço, as I said before.
In Guarda do Embaú, a good tip is Camping Beira Rio. The structure is amazing, with individual sockets for each tent/car, bathrooms with hot water, kitchen, etc. The daily rate varies between 45 and 60 reais per person, depending on the time of year. At Praia do Maço the campsite is very well established. There is no structure, no electricity, or anything else.
As you have already seen, Guarda do Embaú is the ninth surf reserve in the world and the first in Brazil! In other words, if you want beautiful waves, you will find plenty!
Surfing is one of the most popular activities for those who go to Guarda do Embaú. But there are also bodyboarders, skiers, windsurfers, kayaks and paddlers. But despite growing demand, the destination retains its semi-hippie side and the charm of a small fishing village.
It starts on the dirt roads in the center, which is very small but has tourist potential – fewer ATMs to withdraw cash, so if you have to go or go to Praia da Pinheira, take a little more than 3 km to withdraw money ! Otherwise, there are shops and a few restaurants and bars. There are only a few main streets in the city, so it’s easy not to get lost and the accommodations are all close together. And for those who like to go around the sea, you can rent a boat or rent a trip with local guides. Enjoying the coast of Santa Catarina from other angles is sensational, essential for those who love the beautiful landscapes.
Speaking of nature, some of the hiking trails in the area are really worth the effort. The landscape of Serra do Tabuleiro State Park is lush, and you can reach incredible vantage points in the surrounding area. As in Pedra do Urubu. The ascent takes only half an hour and the final view is charming, with a beautiful view of the beaches of Enseada da Pinheira and neighboring Garopaba. Access to the trail is also via the canton on the left, north of Guarda. The entire Serra do Tabuleiro State Park is really full of charm. The main road leads for 1 km through sandbars, rivers and you can see many animals. But it only opens in high season, until March, for visits.
What to know in Guarda do Embaú?
With access on the left side of the path until the entrance of the river, the path that leads to the natural viewpoint takes about 30 minutes to travel. From above you can see Praia da Guarda do Embaú, Praia da Pinheira, Ilha dos Corais, Praia da Gamboa, Siriú, Garopaba, Rio da Madre and Paulo Lopes.
Prainha is located at the northern end of Guarda beach and can be accessed via a 15-minute trail, surrounded by hills with native Atlantic forest, white sand dunes and beautiful cliffs. Prainha does not have a kiosk or street vendor structure.
Vale da Utopia is located between Praia do Maço and Prainha, having received its name from a plastic artist who lived in a cave in the region a few decades ago. The place is quite famous for housing people who seek an alternative life.
Praia do Maço
Praia do Maço presents an extension of sand with only 50 meters of extension to Praia do Maço, making it the smallest of all the beaches in the region. This beach is surrounded by the beautiful Vale da Utopia, it overlooks several of the islands in the region, including the south of Florianópolis.
At eight meters high, the Cachoeira do Zanella presents tourists with a crystal clear natural pool that invites them to take a dip. Access is via BR 101 and a 40-minute trail through rivers and a vast forest.