Ilha Grande in Rio de Janeiro is full of legends about numerous pirates, hidden treasure, monsters and storms. The island was colonised by the Portuguese in 1557 before being an ideal reference point for pirates and privateers until the 19th century. There were numerous shipwrecks between the 16th and 17th centuries, especially around the bay that surrounds the island. Ilha Grande is lined with hundreds of beautiful beaches and caves. The tales behind these innocent-looking beaches all rhyme with pirates! Mountainous landscape covered in thick green forests that reach right down to the ocean, into the sea the forest plunges and becomes fantastic marine life. A large part of the island remains protected by a biological nature reserve which helps preserve 95% of the original forest which is dissected by lots of meandering dirt tracks which are great if you are a fan of forest strolls. During the 16th century, Bùzios, a seaside resort north of Rio, was occupied by French pirates as well as slave traders. Nested on the Costa Verde coast, 280km south of Rio, in the opposite direction to the ancient track of gold, Paraty was also part of the gold rush as it was the main port for a long time. Paraty was a big attraction for pirates due to this flow of gold in transit. The main interest for pirates was the beaches closer to Trinidad, where they would hijack outgoing ships. A veritable architectural gem, Paraty is one of the best-preserved colonial towns of Brazil. This ancient pirate refuge is today a UNESCO world heritage site.