Ilha Grande is a popular tourist destination on the southern coast of the state of Rio de Janeiro. Ilha Grande is the ideal destination for those seeking a close contact with nature. The reasons are numerous: a mountainous tropical island where no cars are allowed; an island covered by a dense tropical rainforest (mata atlântica) for most of its extension; hiking paths crossing the island from north to south and east to west; idyllic beaches and crystal-clear waters. Ilha Grande is definitely not for those keen on sophistication, shopping and a thriving night lifte.
1. HOW TO GET THERE:
The main access to the island is Angra dos Reis, although Ilha Grande can also be reached from Mangaratiba and Conceição de Jacareí. We’ve already seen at this blog how to get from Rio de Janeiro to Angra dos Reis, how to get from São Paulo to Angra dos Reis and how to go from Paraty to Angra dos Reis.
The island can only be reached by boat (cars must stay in the continent) from the cities mentioned in the paragraph above. The route from Angra dos Reis is usually calmer than the one from Mangaratiba, specially in days where the sea is rough. Anyone going to Bananal or Araçatiba need to get their boats in Angra dos Reis. For those going to the vila do Abraão (main inhabited centre in the island) and nearby area there is a regular ship service (barcas ) that provides the cheapest option to get to the island. It takes 1 hour and a half to reach Abraão. Up-to-date information on the sailing schedule can be checked at the following page: horarios de los barcas a la Vila do Abraão. The page also shows prices and other information of interest regarding the crossing from the continent to the island. As well as the regular boats, there are smaller sailing boats (schooners) taking tourists to the island, as well as fishing boats. The schooners tend to have a regular timetable, but you can’t tell for sure whether there will be one waiting for you. There is also a more expensive alternative, a catamaran that reaches Abraão in 45 minutes. At the time of writing this entry its price was R$20 each way (more information, including timetable, at catamarã Ilha Grande).
Careful, as there are two different jetties in Angra. The official ship to Abraão leaves from the Cais da Lapa. The schooners leave from the Cais de Turismo.
A new tourist jetty was inaugurated in Conceição de Jacareí in January 2008. From there the time it takes to reach Abraão is much shorter. The bus from Costa Verde going from Rio to Angra stops at Conceição. There you can take a schooner (45 minutes, R$15) or a speedboat (15 minutes). Schedules and more info at Conceição de Jacareí. There is a warning on the text, the services mentioned are not regular services, which means you can’t tell for sure when they’ll be running.
2. CAREFUL WITH:
- The final week of the year, January and carnival, when the island is chock-a-block and prices rocket. During that time of the year the overpopulation of the island often translates into power cuts.
- Ilha Grande is synonymous with rain, all year long. You are advised to bring proper footwear. Flip-flops/thongs are not appropriate for hiking. After the rain the paths are quite muddy and you can easily fall and do yourself some serious harm.
- The snakes, although you are unlikely to come across any of them (they fear humans, and not without reason), they do exist, and they are venomous. They are found in the dense forest. Do not get obsessed but at the same time keep your eyes opened when you walk along dense vegetation or places where you can’t see where you put your feet.
- There are no banks or ATMs on the island. Bring from the continent with you the money you are likely to need. Many places accept payment of services with credit cards.
3. WE LIKE THE MOST:
The lush vegetation, the awesome landscapes, the fantastic beaches, the crystal-clear waters.
4. WE LIKE THE LEAST:
The oppressing feeling of being in a paradise under a serious threat. There is rubbish everywhere (including beaches and remote locations). The lack of environmental preservation awareness among the locals.
5. FAVOURITE PLACES:
The Lagoa Verde, the Lopes Mendes beach, the Saco do Céu.
6. PIECE OF ADVICE:
- the main inhabited centre on the island is the village of vila do Abraão, where most of the accommodation, shops and restaurants are. Among the smaller villages you’ll find Provetá and Araçatiba.
- when you arrive in the Vila do Abraão, and depending on where your pousada is located (do remember there are no cars on the island), you’ll be able to hire the services of a porter.
- camping is only allowed in specially designated places. You can find the list here: Camping na Ilha Grande.
- Lopes Mendes, Parnaioca, Dois Rios and Cachadaço are among the most beautiful beaches on the island.
- there are two ways of moving about in the Ilha Grande: by boat or on foot following the different paths around the island.
- at trekking in Ilha Grande we gave an overview of the trekking options in the island. Mountain climbers can go to the top of the Pico Do Papagaio (982 meters) in the company of a local guide. From the top there is a wonderful panoramic view of the island. It takes 7 hours to go and come back, bear in mind the path is really steep, you are departing from sea level.
- the other outstanding leisure activity on the island are the boat trips (mostly schooners). On the following page you will find a description of the main boat trips around Grande. Trips last from 6 to 8 hours and take you to several beaches, stopping on the way in places where you can snorkel. The trips cost between R$25 and R$80, depending on their length. As the island is quite big, no schooner manages to sail around it on the same day. If that’s what you want to do, you’ll have to fork out R$150 for an 8-hour trip around the island on a motorboat.
- Ilha Grande is an excellent destination for divers. The best time of the year is between November and May. Detailed information (in Portuguese) at Mergulho na Ilha Grande and Snorkel na Ilha Grande.
We have a full listing of Hoteles and Pousadas in Ilha Grande
Average rainfall and temperatures in Ilha Grande.
11. PHOTO ALBUM:
photos of Ilha Grande.
12. MAP OF ILHA GRANDE:
At map of Ilha Grande you will find a very detailed map of the island.
[Don’t forget to check out the list of other destinations already covered in this blog, here]
Category: Destination: Rio