The name Ilha Grande literally translates to ‘big island’, and as the name suggests it is a big island just a few hours away from the popular Rio de Janeiro. After a few hours spent on a bus and a short ferry ride, we arrived on Ilha Grande where we would be spending the next three nights in paradise.
Getting to know Ilha Grande
First on the agenda now that we had arrived at our destination was to have lunch, we decided to have a tasty acai bowl to cool us down and were not disappointed. We knew it would be the first of many while we were in Brazil, home to the delicious and nutritious acai berry.
Our quest for lunch had taken us on a nice walk throughout the town and gave us a great opportunity to start familiarising ourselves with what it had to offer. After we were satisfied with food in our belly we headed off on a short hike of 45 minutes to a nearby beach that came highly recommended to us.
The walk to Praia Abraaozinho took us along the coastline of the island, over numerous beaches and through the bits of jungle that connected them. It was a beautiful walk and we were lucky enough to have a beautiful sunny afternoon. When we arrived at the beach I was glad to cool off in the water and have a bit of a swim before settling in, finding a nice spot in the shade to read. Eventually it was time to make the walk back into town before it got too dark. We found a healthy café and got a delicious vegan burger for dinner to end what was a great first day on our little island paradise.
A day of island hopping
Since there was so much to see on and around Ilha Grande and only so many places that were accessible by foot, we thought it would be good to spend a day doing a boat tour to see some more of what was on offer. We booked a tour that’s name translated to ‘island Paradise’ which sounded exactly like our kind of thing. It consisted of 5 stops at various islands and beaches and allowed enough time for us to stay and enjoy each place before heading onto the next.
The places we stopped were Praia do Dentista, Ponta da Piedete, Illha das Botinas, Praia das Flechas, Ilha de Cataguases and a beach which had a restaurant for those who wanted a late lunch or early dinner. Of the stops my favourite was Ilha das Botinas which was two small islands surrounded by reef and some of the clearest water I have ever seen. Here we stopped the boat and were able to jump off it to enjoy the water or swim over to the tiny islands.
After our last stop at the restaurant we were on our way back when we saw a boat stopped in the middle of the ocean and it appeared we were heading over to it. As it turned out, the eftpos machine didn’t work on the island where the restaurant was, so in order to pay by card this was where you had to come. We were in disbelief and found it so funny that it connected here in the middle of the ocean but not on the island. Only in brazil!
Said to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Brazil, Lopez Mendez is accessible from the main town of Ilha Grande by water taxi or a hike through the forest. I can’t say no to a nice hike so we set off on what we were told would be up to three hours of walking. With the sun beating down on us the hike proved to be a bit of a challenge as we climbed up and down the mountainous terrain. It was divided up into three sections, all of which were separated by beaches.
The first section of the hike took us around an hour, we were walking quite quickly though and overtaking everyone we came across along the path. The first beach we arrived at was Praia Palmas and that was a beautiful beach in itself. It was also nice that it was quite deserted and not overrun with people or tourists. We walked along this beach and enjoyed the view and flat sandy terrain before we started on the next leg of the walk.
Taking less time than the first section of the walk, the second bit was similar in the way that we wound up and down the path until we made it to Pouso beach. This was the point that many people arrived by water taxi.
The third and final part of the walk was one that everyone had to do, including those who chose to take the water taxi. It was around a 15-minute walk but started off rather steep with a fair bit of a climb. It was well worth the effort when we arrived and could cool off in the refreshing water. The beach itself was stunning, with white sand and clear turquoise water. As it was a long weekend in Brazil there were a fair few people there but it wasn’t too busy that it took away from the experience. We spent the afternoon relaxing before heading back over to the nearest beach where we took a water taxi back around the island.
Overall our time spent on Ilha Grande was paradise. Spending our days at the beaches and eating daily acai bowls to keep us cool was the perfect combination for a great stay. I was sad to leave the island but also excited to see what our next destination, the cute town of Paraty, had to offer.
A few more photos from our time on the island: