For many Brazilians or Argentinians, Balneário Camboriú is a seven-day holiday destination. For us, it’s a convenient one-day stop, a 90-minute bus ride from Florianópolis, one of those “eh, why not?” places we visit if we can find a room easily.
“Okay, I booked the hotel by Jesus.”
“Christ! You don’t want to go see it, do you?”
“God, no. This hotel is just the best option.”
Honestly, I wouldn’t stay too long in Balneário Camboriú. Balneário Camboriú is weird. Not bad weird, just puzzling weird and entertaining weird.
Balneário Camboriú seems to have been designed for those who want to experience the main famous Brazilian attractions conveniently in one place without travelling all over the country. Salvador is Bahia is famous for the Elevador Lacerda? Balneário Camboriú has the new Passarela da Barra! Rio is known for the four-kilometre-long Avenida Atlântica in Copacabana? Let’s name the seaside avenue “Avenida Atlântica” and pave it like the one in Rio! São Paulo’s busy futuristic skyline? We can do that too! Let’s build a bunch of tall, skinny skyscrapers by the beach, never mind the fact they block the sun! Cable cart like at the Sugar Loaf? Checked! Attraction park, like in most resorts? We’ve got you covered!
But the tackiest—and popular—attraction ever has to be “Cristo Luz,” a 33-metre high Rio-style Christ statue illuminated at night and casting a weird glow over the city. The poor Christ, as if his life hadn’t been difficult enough, changes colour every ten second—blue! Red! Green! Orange! It feels like Mark is playing with the switch.
I’m pretty sure the Vatican wasn’t consulted but tourists seem to love it. Every night, there’s a long lineup on Avenida Brasil for the “Jesus shuttle.”
Balneário Camboriú is a bit puzzling to me. Why is everybody coming here? There are better beaches in Santa Catarina Island and hotel are way overpriced! Are all those high-rise buildings full? No way! Why are Brazilians fascinated with pirates? Who decided that Balneário Camboriú should be the resort town?
But I have to admit the seven-kilometre-long Praia Central is nice and the main avenue, Avenida Brasil—at this point, you do need a reminder you’re in Brazil, empanadas argentinas are a best-seller here—is entertaining after dark since absolutely everyone in town ends up there.
Still, the Cristo Luz is a bit creepy, isn’t it?