Working in a surf hostel in Florianópolis, Brazil
My Worldpackers experience volunteering, living and learning in a Surf Hostel in Florianópolis, Brazil — a paradise for nature people!
My motivation to become a world-packer started a long time ago.
When I was in Australia in 2013, I did lots of WWOOFing and began to like the idea of exchanging work for accommodation and other benefits. I worked on farms and vineyards, helped with an ecological housing project in the mountains... and participated in many other collaborative communities while traveling around the country.
During my studies, I went to Asia several times and taught English to kids in Thailand while living with one of the local Thai teachers. Then, also as part of my studies, I worked in an ecological hostel in Chile for almost half a year.
At the time, I wasn't a Worldpackers member and had organized my entire Chile trip myself. Luckily, the hostel I worked at was listed on the Worldpackers site and I met work-exchangers who told me all about how Worldpackers works.
I was inspired by their stories, and found myself itching to know more about the Worldpackers travel experience. I knew I wanted to experience more adventures based on collaborative travel relationships. I didn't want to miss out on any opportunity to participate in incredible communities and meet other like-minded people.
And so, for my next trip, I created a Worldpackers account... because I knew it would be worth it.
In the following article I will cover my experience at Floripa Surf Hostel in Florianópolis, Brazil, where I volunteered from March to May in 2019. If you're curious to learn more about what it's like to do a work exchange or travel Brazil, this article is for you!
I will discuss my overall hostel experience, Floripa's location and amenities, the daily work routine for world-packers, and I'll give some information about the hostel hosts. I'll also address my expenses and budget, as well as my personal motivation to do a work exchange in Brazil.
Finally, I'll reflect on what I learned from my work exchange experience.
About Floripa Surf Hostel
Floripa Surf Hostel is based in Campeche, in the south of the island of Florianópolis, Brazil. The hostel is beautiful. The kitchen is simple but has everything you need. There's a cozy living area outside where you can sit and eat, talk to others or play the hostel guitar.
The rooms are tidy, and have lots of light and air-conditioning. The hostel has a very cozy feel, and the biggest rooms are six-bed dorms. It's very easy to meet other people and make friends while traveling due to the hostel's welcoming and sociable atmosphere.
Alcohol from outside the hostel is forbidden. However, you can buy beer and caipirinhas at reception, make some friends and then head to dance to forró (typical Brazilian music) at one of the bars in town.
Work exchange at Floripa Surf Hostel
As a world-packer at Floripa Surf Hostel you do five shifts per week and are in charge of daily reception tasks such as preparing the rooms, welcoming guests, doing check-ins and check-outs, making sure everything is clean, giving recommendations about tours and hikes, etc.
It's necessary to speak English (as many guests are European), and basic Spanish. Portuguese is not a must but is very helpful. If you don't know any Portuguese, you will learn fast due to the hostel's multilingual environment.
The six-hour work shifts are very easy to handle and there's plenty of time to chat with hostel guests or practice slack-line (as long everything is under control). What I loved most about my stay was the relationship I was able to build with guests.
The hostel attracts open-minded, peaceful people. I once accidentally talked with a guest for over an hour about the magic of traveling instead of renting him a surfboard, which was the reason he spoke to me in the first place!
Your relationship with other hostel volunteers can also be intense as you spend a lot of time together. All in all, I would describe the hostel as a very inspiring environment where people share a lot and everyone can learn from one other (music, sports, languages, photography, etc).
Floripa Surf Hostel location
Floripa Surf Hostel is a ten minute walk to the small fruit and veggie supermarket on the main road of town. There are plenty of pharmacies in the area as well and you can take one of the free hostel bikes to shorten the walk.
There are a few fish restaurants in town and a reggae bar that plays live music once a week. If you're seeking more vibrant nightlife you can to head to Lagoa da Conceição or to the city center, which is easily accessible by bus. Nevertheless, I'd always recommend getting Uber and sharing expenses with other volunteers and/or guests.
The best thing about Floripa Surf Hostel's location is that it's only two minutes away from the famous surf hotspot Praia do Campeche and a very short distance away from incredible hikes, more paradise beaches, and spectacular nature, nature, nature! The opportunities to connect with nature as you travel in Florianópolis are boundless. I spent almost all of my free time hiking, surfing and getting lost by bike.
The Floripa Surf Hostel hosts
The owners of the hostel are very nice and welcoming people, but they like rules. If you stick to the plan and follow the rules, your hosts will be happy and I can ensure that you will have a lovely, relaxed work exchange experience.
The hosts speak Portuguese, English, and Spanish, so always ask when you are not sure about a certain topic to avoid misunderstandings.
Brazil is a very affordable destination for backpackers and budget travelers. If you use Worldpackers, it's even easier to travel on a budget. While volunteering at Floripa Surf Hostel, I budgeted an average of €10-15 a day, but you could easily get by on less. It all depends on your consumption of Acaí bowls and Caipirinhas!
There was no food provided by the host but buying food is very cheap on the island. If you want to save money while traveling, I recommend doing as the locals do and buying your food from the local market.
In Floripa, if you go to the street market on Avenida Pequeno Principe, you'll return loaded with bags of fresh fruits and veggies for the cost of a coffee in Europe. The hostel hosts also offer discounts on surf equipment, drinks and other reception products, which is quite fair.
Why Floripa Surf Hostel
Why did I choose this trip?
After finishing university, I wanted to travel again and Brazil had been on my mind for a long time. I decided to visit some good friends that I'd made in Chile during my internship in 2017.
We met up, flew to Salvador de Bahia, got a car and went all the way down to Rio and enjoyed Carnival. From there my friends went their own ways and I couldn't help but feel that there was something special waiting for me in Floripa.
That being said, my primary motivation to choose this hostel and Worldpackers host was my intuition. Second to that was my interest in surfing.
I started surfing two years ago and finally wanted to have the chance to do it on a regular basis (if you like surfing, Floripa Surf Hostel is perfect). Moreover, I love being surrounded by nature and found Floripa Surf Hostel suitable as it's in the south of the island where most of the treks start.
When you apply to work at Floripa Surf Hostel you will have to answer some questions about your hostel experience and your personality. The owner chooses his volunteers wisely because ultimately, volunteers are given a lot of responsibility.
If you are an open, communicative person, into learning languages, willing to listen and to learn, then Floripa Surf Hostel is right for you. If you primarily want to meet people and party, it's probably not your best choice.
There is something unique and incredibly special about Florianópolis. Brazilians call it the "island of magic" and after living there, I understand why. The island attracts a certain type of adventurous, spirited people who are willing to learn and grow.
I learned so many things during my work exchange experience on the island. I developed the courage to speak a language I was not at all fluent in and didn't even feel comfortable speaking at the beginning.
When you work in a hostel, it doesn't matter if you're afraid of speaking new languages abroad, you just have to go for it and try your best. In my opinion, working in a hostel is truly one of the best ways to improve your language skills.
Apart from having learned a new language, I had many moments of self-awareness, of reflecting about my goals in life, about alternative living, personal growth, etc. Maybe that had to do with meeting so many inspiring people in the hostel context, or with doing things I never thought I'd be able to do.
I am thankful for that and for the friends I made. I can now say that I have some amazing Brazilian, Argentinian, and Chilean friends and I've learned about their ways of seeing the world. I also feel like I have also developed a deeper connection to nature in Floripa.
There was no such thing as a culture shock for me, as the state of Santa Catarina comes closest to Europe in terms of both safety and culture. After having traveled to the northeast of Brazil and having visited much of the coast, Floripa was like a safe harbor for me after several months on the road, the place I finally settled down in and felt at home in for a while.
I would recommend doing a work exchange in Florianópolis for beginner Worldpackers who want to visit Brazil but are concerned about safety issues. Florianópolis is one of the safest places in Brazil and offers a high standard of living, good health care, and quality education. You can safely walk along the beach at night, get your phone out on the street, or camp in the wild.
I am grateful for the opportunity to share more about my work exchange adventures with others. If you have any questions about Florianópolis or questions about Worldpackers, feel free to leave a comment or get in touch!