The stunning island of Ilha Grande is home to gorgeous beaches, chilled locals and the most amazing jungle hikes. Ilha Grande is located 150 kilometres southwest of Rio de Janeiro, just a short boat trip from the mainland of Brazil.
We spent four days on the island but you could definitely spend much longer. There are so many hidden ‘praias’ (beaches) to explore.
DAY ONE / We arrived from the mainland late in the afternoon to settle into Biergarten Hostel and spent the evening strolling the cobbled/dirt streets of Vila do Abraão. Vila do Abraão is the main town of the island, most of the accomodation, eats and boats are located here. Cute restaurants, food carts, acai stalls, mini supermarkets and carts of supplies surround the narrow streets. The vibes are so so relaxed! We ended our evening with a cheap meal at the restaurant located within the ground of the hostel. Serving fresh salads, vegetables, rice and meat, the ‘comida por quilo’ was delish.
DAY TWO / RAINING! What can you do on a rainy day? Hike to a waterfall of course! About an hour hike from the town, we arrived at Feiticeira Waterfall. A cute, small waterfall. The rain then was much heavier and we decided to venture back to town down the muddy trail. Both the trail and the town were fairly empty due to the inclement weather which made for peaceful walking. With our stomach’s rumbling we tried the Kebab Lounge, a weird mix of asian and middle eastern kebabs and stir-fried veggies. It so worked though and the R$12 caprininhas in happy hour (two for one) were so YUM!
DAY THREE / YAY for sun! We took a gamble and booked a full island boat tour for our third day. It really is one of the best ways to see the island and soak in the salty, sandy goodness. The boat is speedy and takes you to four or five swimming spots, with a lunch stop as well. Cachadaço Beach, the first stop of the day. A cute little nook with a stunning view of the endless ocean. Next, Parnaioca Beach with more crystal clear water and a place to cool off. Back onto the boat and we bounced through the sea to arrive at Praia do Aventureiro. The water was SO CLEAR and the scenery is breathtaking. Home to the ‘coconut lying down tree’, it is the quintessential postcard of Ilha Grande. Take a pic and stroll along the footpath to a little jetty, a perfect diving platform for those who dare. Brightly coloured beach shacks and relaxed locals create a peaceful backdrop. Soon after, we stopped at Praia dos Meros. A perfect spot to pop on your snorkel and take in the underwater scenery. This was one of our favourite days! We loved the hidden beaches and cruising through the South Atlantic. We capped off the day with dinner at Jardin, a cute little healthy eatery with poke bowls, buddha bowls, sweet potato crisps and vego burgers. HEAVENLY!
DAY FOUR / Our final day on the island. I think we saved the best until last. A hike to the gorgeous Praia Lopes Mendes. From Abraão to Lopes Mendes is around 6 km, which took us just over two hours. The hike is impressive and steep! Through the lush rainforest, the trail takes you up and down some abrupt slopes but the ending was so worth it. Along the hike you visit three little beaches before reaching Lopes Mendes. All three had the bright blue H2O and the greenest of foliage. Finally, we arrived at Praia Lopes Mendes. The sand is SO SO SO WHITE and the water is divine. Unlike lots of other beaches we’ve visited in Brazil, the background of Lopes Mendes was a sea of enormous fig and palm trees. Most people found a little spot, set up there towels, picnic essentials and relaxed in the natural shade. It almost feels as if no one is there with you, just ongoing stretches of white sand. The waves were great for body surfing and apparently around April the swell starts to pick up for the surfers and lasts until September. To return to Abraão, a short 20 minute walk through a fairly easy trail takes you back to Praia do Pouso. We paid R$15 for a 45 minute boat trip back. This is a must do at ILHA GRANDE!
We LOVED ILHA GRANDE and would recommend it to anyone who is visiting the Rio De Janeiro area.
Much love, Laura xx