Ilha Grande, a treasure island fit for any adventure novel, is the star of Angra dos Reis Bay and its 365 islands! A magical place strewn with jungle covered mountains, it is perfect for taking beautiful hikes and going scuba diving. A great opportunity to admire the wrecks of sunken galleons and pirate ships, as well as a chance to swim with sea turtles. With its many pink granite rocks, this part of Brazil is reminiscent of the Seychelles! There are neither roads nor cars in this unspoilt paradise, which is home to just a few pousadas (B&Bs). The island is covered with a tropical rainforest inhabited by monkeys, hummingbirds and other exotic animals, with its highest point reaching almost 1,000 metres! The majority of restaurants and pousadas are found in Vila do Abraao, the island's only 'village', where schooners from Angra dos Reis and Mangaratiba dock. The sandy streets of the village are sure to make you feel a million miles from home! Other hotels can be found in more secluded spots on the island, which can only be reached by boat or canoe! The beaches of Lopes Mendes and Cachadaço are known as some of the most beautiful in Brazil. Our two recommended hotels in Ilha Grand are the Mini Sagu Resort and Pousada Naturalia.
You won't need a guide in Ilha Grande: the helpful signposts and well-marked paths, which are rare in Brazil, mean you can go walking in the jungle on your own. The island is a huge playground: scuba diving, swimming with sea turtles, boat trips around the archipelago, hiking in the tropical forest, bathing in the crystal clear waters of the waterfalls and natural swimming pools, and kayaking. You really will be spoiled for choice! If you make it to the highest point on the island, 980 metres above sea level, you will have an amazing view of Angra dos Reis Bay. Allow 3 hours to climb the peak and 2 hours to get back down.
The beaches of Ilha Grande are unspoilt and untamed. You won't find any bars, shops, restaurants, deckchairs, or parasols here, and the place is all the better for it! Looking for a shower? A natural waterfall gushing down the rocks does just the trick! The setting is heavenly: jungle covered mountain sinking into the Atlantic Ocean, with the odd granite rock dotted rock here and there. The island was once used by pirates, and it would certainly provide the perfect backdrop for an adventure film!
You will have trouble visiting areas outside of Ilha Grande, as it is isolated and hard to get to. The journey to Rio de Janeiro Airport takes 1 hour by boat then 3 hours by road. As there are no cars on Ilha Grande, be prepared to walk on the sandy village paths or along the trails through the tropical forest! Warning, it can be steep: the island's highest point reaches 1,000 metres above sea level! Bear in mind that the island doesn't have a post office, or stamps, or a cash machine.
Bear in mind when travelling to Ilha Grande from Mangaratiba (30 miles north of Angra dos Reis), that the boat waits until there are enough passengers before leaving. This means that during quiet times, you may be stuck in the harbour all day! In addition, the journey takes 1h30m. You would be better off taking a motor schooner from Conceiçao de Jacarei to the town of Angra dos Reis. The journey takes just 40 minutes and there is a fixed timetable! (departures at 11:30am, 2:00pm and 5:00pm).
Toscanelli Brazil, the Mini Sagu Resort's à la carte restaurant, is one of the best on Ilha Grande. The Italian owners have created a menu consisting of dishes from their home country prepared by an Italian chef. We recommend the risotto, which is excellent.
A hammock, a pareo and a pair of Havaianas flip-flops.