Ilha Grande

Is Ilha Grande Worth Visiting? 10 Great Reasons To Visit

Welcome to the tropical island of Ilha Grande, where lush rainforest and secluded beaches, await every traveller seeking an escape from the hustle and bustle of Brazil’s big cities. If you’re contemplating whether Ilha Grande is worth a visit, here are ten great reasons that make Ilha Grande a must-visit destination for your next trip.

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Is Ilha Grande Worth Visiting?

From pristine beaches and breathtaking hikes to secluded lagoons and crystal clear waters, Ilha Grande’s beauty is undeniable and well worth your time. 

 

It’s roughly halfway between Rio and Sao Paulo, so it’s the perfect stop off to break up the 6-hour bus ride between the two. You’ll also welcome the escape from the madness of these two big cities.

 

So, is Ilha Grande worth visiting? Absolutely, and these ten great reasons only scratch the surface of the wonders that await on this Brazilian island paradise.

Ilha Grande

10 Great Reasons To Visit Ihla Grande

1. It’s A Car Free Tropical Island

One of the unique charms of Ilha Grande is its commitment to preserving its natural beauty by remaining road and vehicle free.

 

Imagine a place where the only sounds you hear are the rustle of palm leaves and the soothing rhythm of the waves.

 

With no motorized vehicles on the island, you’ll find yourself exploring the enchanting landscapes by trekking to secluded beaches such as Dios Rios, or taking boats to waterfront restaurants only accessible from the water.

 

This commitment to preserving the island not only enhances the island’s appeal but also allows you to escape the hustle and bustle of the mainland and connect more intimately with nature.

2. Relax At Lopes Mendes Beach

For beach enthusiasts seeking a slice of paradise, Lopes Mendes Beach is a dream come true.

 

With its powdery white sand stretching as far as the eye can see and crystal-clear turquoise waters, this beach is a haven for relaxation.

 

Spend the day here lounging under the shade of swaying palm trees, take a refreshing dip in the gentle waves.  Make sure to bring your sunscreen, a good book, as you won’t want to leave.

How To Get To Lopes Mendes Beach

If you’re staying in the main village of Abraão and want to reach Lopes Mendes Beach, you can follow these steps:

 

  • Lopes Mendes Beach is not directly accessible by road, so you’ll need to take a boat or hike. Head to the main pier in Abraão, where you can find boat services.
  • There are boat services from Abraão to Palmas, another beach on Ilha Grande. You can inquire about boat schedules and prices at the pier.
  • From Palmas, you can start the hike to Lopes Mendes Beach. The trail is well-marked and takes you through the lush Atlantic rainforest. The hike usually takes around 1-2 hours, depending on your pace.

 

Alternatively, you can book a boat in advance if you prefer. 

Ilha Grande (Lopes Mendes Beach)

3. Hike To Dois Rios Beach

For those with an adventurous spirit, a hike to Dois Rios Beach is a rewarding journey through the island’s lush interior.

 

The trail is full of surprises, including dense forests filled with vibrant fauna and flora. You’ll likely see monkeys, snakes, squirrels and lots of exotic birds along the way.

 

This is another beautiful, secluded beach, however this one will likely be less busy due to the fact it requires hiking.

How To Visit Dois Rios Beach

  • Hiking

I personally recommend hiking. It adds more to your day and adds a sense of accomplishment. It’s also free!

 

Begin your trek from the main village of Abraão on Ilha Grande. You can easily locate the trailhead from the village. Follow the signs and well-defined trail that leads from Abraão to Dois Rios. The path takes you through the dense forest, and you’ll likely encounter diverse flora and fauna along the way.

 

The trek from Abraão to Dois Rios is approximately 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) and on average, it takes around 2 to 3 hours to complete.

 

The hike is considered moderately challenging. While it’s not extremely difficult, there are some uphill and downhill sections, as well as uneven terrain. Wearing comfortable hiking shoes and bringing water is advisable.

  • By Boat

If you don’t want to hike, you’ll be able to take a boat to Dois Rios. Head to the main pier in town and enquire. 

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4. Visit Cachoeira de Feiticeira Waterfall

The Cachoeira de Feiticeira Waterfall is a short walk from Dois Rios beach so you can combine these two sights into the same day.

 

Visiting the waterfall is a nice break from the coastal scenery, where a cascading waterfall meets a refreshing pool. You can take a dip in the cool waters, and lounge in the shade of the forest surrounded by the soothing sounds of nature.

 

It’s a rejuvenating experience that connects you with the island’s pristine landscapes and showcases the diversity of its ecosystems.

Ilha Grande (Dois Rios Beach)

5. Hike To Pico do Papagaio (Parrot Peak) For Insane Views

To get one of the best views on Ilha Grande, a trek to Pico do Papagaio (which translates to Parrot Peak) is a must.  

 

This challenging yet fun trek takes you to one of the highest points on the island, and as you get closer to the top, you’ll catch brief glimpses of the views to come through the dense forest. 

 

The effort required to reach the summit is well worth it, and when you reach the summit you’ll be treated to panoramic vistas of the islands emerald green forest, the surrounding islands, the endless expanse of the Atlantic Ocean.

How To Hike To Pico Do Papagaio

The trailhead for Pico do Papagaio is usually accessible from the southwestern part of the island from the main village of Abraão. The trail can be steep and challenging in parts, so ensure you’re prepared with proper hiking gear.

 

The distance to Pico do Papagaio is approximately 4.5 kilometers (about 2.8 miles), but the hike can take several hours due to the challenging terrain. The round-trip can take around 5-7 hours, depending on your pace and the trail conditions.

 

The hike to Pico do Papagaio is considered challenging, especially the final ascent to the summit. It involves steep sections and rocky terrain. Proper hiking shoes, water, and snacks are essential.

Guided Tours To Pico Do Papagaio

If you’re unfamiliar with the terrain or prefer a guided experience, consider joining a guided hiking tour.

 

Ilha Grande Hiking offer two options, either a day time hike or a nighttime hike so you can watch the sunrise.

 

Ilha Grande (from above)

6. Boat Trips To Secluded Lagoons – Lagoa Azul and Lagoa Verde

Discover the untouched beauty of Ilha Grande by embarking on a boat trip to the secluded lagoons of Lagoa Azul and Lagoa Verde.

 

These hidden gems offer a tranquil escape from the more crowded areas of the island.

 

You can go snorkelling from the boat to marvel at the vibrant marine life or simply bask in the sun atop your boat.

 

Tours will likely stop off at the beaches near by too such as Praia Da Longa and Praia de Aracatiba where you can grab food or enjoy a refreshing caiprinha in the shade.

Tours To Lagoa Azul and Lagoa Verde

You’ll need to book a boat tour to access these parts of the island. Check out this tour (provided by Ilha Grande Hiking) or book directly through their website: 

7. Go Snorkelling or Scuba Diving

Ilha Grande’s underwater world is just as captivating as this island. 

 

Strap on your snorkel or scuba gear and explore the vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life.

Snorkelling On Ilha Grande

The best place to snorkel at is Lagoa Azul which requires a boat tour (see above). However, you can also try snorkelling from one of the main beaches.

Diving On Ilha Grande

Whether you’re an experienced diver or a first timer, Ilha Grande offers underwater adventures suitable for all skill levels.

 

The clear waters surrounding the island provide excellent visibility, allowing you to see as much wildlife as possible. That, combined with the warm waters, means the conditions for diving are perfect.

 

And the island has some top-rated dive schools:

 

Ilha Grande (Laguna Azul)

8. Stay At An Incredible Airbnb or Hotel

If you’re staying on an island paradise for a few nights, why not treat yourself to some upscale accommodation.

 

I know most backpackers travel on a budget, and I still do in many ways, however, every now and then you have to treat yourself to an experience that you’ll remember.

 

I personally enjoy splashing out a bit extra or one or two nights in a fancy hotel, and Ilhaa Grande is the perfect place to do this.

 

  • Bonito Paraiso Beach House is a popular option so make sure you book way in advance. A short water taxi ride away from the main town, you’ll be treated to comfortable amenities and a beachfront location, whilst feeling completely secluded.
  • Stay in this beach front suite on the otherside of the island, away from the main town, to truly escape.
  • Or this hotel suite with its own private infinity pool
  • Or if you want a nice hotel in the main town, try Asalem.

9. Walking Tour Of Abraão History

Immerse yourself in Ilha Grande’s rich history with a walking tour of Abraão, the island’s main settlement.

 

You can explore the cobblestone streets lined with charming colonial-style houses and learn about the island’s fascinating past.

 

This tour lasts 2 and a half hours and takes you to the islands historic sites, including churches and museums, that offer insights into Ilha Grande’s transformation from a pirate’s lair to a tranquil paradise.

 

You’ll also visit and swim at the famous Black Beach and the Pocao do Abraão Waterfall.

10. Take A Water Taxi To Have Lunch and Cocktails At Bonito Bar

If you don’t get the chance to book a fancy hotel like Bonito Paraiso Beach House, don’t worry you can still experience it for the day.

 

Grab a water taxi over and have lunch at Bonito Resto Bar.

 

This waterfront eatery offers a fantastic menu of fresh seafood, tropical fruits, and Brazilian specialties.

 

They’re also passionate about making high quality cocktails using fresh fruit, flowers and herbs from the island. Make sure you try the Jaca caipirinha!

 

Enjoy your meal with a backdrop of stunning ocean views and the gentle sea breeze.

Are you off to Argentina on your travels too? Check out this epic Brazil and Argentina itinerary if so:

 

 

Bonito Paraiso (Ihla Grande)
Views From Bonito Paraiso (Ihla Grande)

How Many Days Do You Need On Ilha Grande?

For a brief yet fulfilling escape to Ilha Grande, I would recommend a minimum of 3 days to truly enjoy this Brazilian paradise.

 

This shorter itinerary ensures a taste of the island’s beauty, allowing you to experience key highlights such as the pristine Lopes Mendes Beach and a boat trip to secluded lagoons like Lagoa Azul and Lagoa Verde.

 

However, for a more immersive and relaxed experience, consider extending your stay to 5 days.

 

This gives you ample time to leisurely explore the island’s best beaches as mentioned above, but to also delve into the lush interior with hikes to Parrot Peak and Dois Rios Beach. 

Head to the post below to see the 3-day and 5-day itinerary fully planned out:

 

 

When Is The Best Time To Visit Ilha Grande?

Many people will recommend the high season to visit Ilha Grande which is from December to March. This period is the most popular time to visit, attracting a higher number of tourists.

 

The weather is generally warm and sunny during these months, making it perfect for beach activities and outdoor adventures. However, it’s important to note that with popularity comes higher prices for accommodations and other services.

 

Despite the appeal of the high season, it’s worth considering that there’s an increased chance of rain, particularly in December and January.

 

If you’re looking for a quieter experience and lower prices, the shoulder seasons, which typically are April and November are ideal. During these times, the island is less crowded, allowing you to enjoy its natural beauty in peace.

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Ilha Grande 4

How To Get To Ihla Grande?

How To Get To Ihla Grande From Rio?

From Rio, you can take a public bus or taxi to the coastal town of Angra dos Reis, approximately a 2.5 to 3-hour drive.

 

My go to website for booking buses in South America is Bus Bud. It’s a single website that aggregates all the bus companies and their schedules, allowing me to easily book buses and not have to worry.

From Angra dos Reis, hop on a ferry or speedboat to Ilha Grande, a scenic ride across the sparkling waters that typically takes around 1.5 to 2 hours.

 

Alternatively, travellers can opt for a direct shuttle service from Rio to Conceição de Jacareí, followed by a short boat ride to the island.

How to Get To Ihla Grande From Sao Paulo?

If you are travelling north from Sao Paulo, an easier way to get to Ihla Grande is to stop off in Paraty which is a 4 hour bus ride.

 

Apart from it being a great town to check out, you can also get a ferry from here once a day.

 

This saves you from travelling further north to Angra dos Reis.

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