We didn´t like Angra dos Reis!
And we didn´t like it because we just saw the harbour, had a reasonable lunch, and moved to Parati.
We know that the highlights of Angra are the islands, that we visited from Parati. And with so many private islands in that paradise, it should look better if you'd get an invitation. So... make a local friend. But with a private island, don't forget.
This island (=pity island) was for some years the meeting place for brazilian celebrities, also called by locals "Ilha de caras" (caras is a local magazine, that used to hold many events in the island and many pictures of actors, singers and other famous brazilians were taken inside the island´s mansion).
In the middle of the island there a huge, gorgeous mansion. This island is connected by a string of sand to the island of Bonfim, with a lovely church.
It´s a good example of what some islands of Angra represent: the rich riviera.
Ilhas Botinas (="boot islands") are a pair of tiny islands in the middle of Angra bay, accessible on boat. The are no beaches on these islands...the shore is rocky. But the reason why they are usually chosen among 365 islands to be included in these boat routes are their interesting shape (they both look like boots in a certain angle) and similarity, and the fact that it´s a great snorkelling spot.
The water is clear, calm and loaded with fish. The day we went to visit those islands, there were starfish scattered all over the bottom. They were so many, I gave up counting them.....it was lovely....
if you can afford it (pretty expensive) it's definitely worth to take a half day boat trip to the close islands, though you wouldnt find any desert island here: some of them are hotel's properties or private, or rented by wealthy brazilian and nonbrazilian people for good weather period..anyway nice beaches, wild nature and much of sun. for me it was even too much..being not very used to such sun's activity unfortunately later that day i felt sick and had to go to the nearest local hospital for emergencies (ha! another interesting experience)...my compation tought i had malaria (crazy he was!) because before we've been on Amazon river...but of course it wasnt , anyway all went fine all i had was a sun hit. getting back to the trip-you can book it at any hotel you stay in.
I think that if you go to Angra you MUST take a ship and go to see the different islands of the bay. The water is cristal-clear, the islands are like a dream, and the beaches fantastic. Don´t forget visiting Ilha Grande, but there so many nice places that it´s difficult to remember their names. And if you like the scuba diving, its a nice place to it too.
Among the islands I visited, those were the ones I liked most. They are tiny islands connected by a string of white sand and the water level is low on the surroundings. These islands are not far from the city in Angra, and they have the best spot for a swim....it feels like you are in a pool...the waters are clean, without any waves usually, with the water to your chest you can see your feet perfectly...just amazing.
You can get to them by boat, most of the boat trips in Angra include those islands on their visit. But the best thing is to try to arrange with a local boat in Ilha grande or an agencie, to get to this islands before the other boats arrive, when there´s this bunch of people coming in and out (I don´t know about you, but I think an empty paradisiac beach is much better than a crowded one). If you arrive earlier than the others, in low tide, you´ll have that perfect paradise totally empty just for yourself.....wonderfull experience!
One fun and inexpensive thing to do in Angra Dos Reis is to take an all-day sailboat trip. The boat we got on with was brightly colored and had a young, energetic crew of locals. We toured the coastline and stopped at several secluded islands and beaches throughout the day. We also saw flying fish! We came back around sunset. Food and drinks (caiparinhas!) were provided. It was a great experience.
When in Angra you must do an island cruise. Many companies offer tours that are very similar. The schooners are large and hold up to 100 people and play music and create a nice atmosphere.
You make a number of stops at various islands where they anchor giving you the chance for a swim. A stop for lunch is made on another island with a couple of restaurants serving very fresh fish.
Good value and great fun.
Like many Brazilian colonial cities,Angra was deeply influenced by the Catholic church!
In a small area it's possible to find a great nbr of convents,churches and monuments,even at the little islands,which is very charming!
The downtown Angra was built in curves,following the wind that blows all day!
Besides the churches,there are a little left from the old colonial style.
Even though a promenade at downtown Angra can give a nice surprise!
Al list of historical buildings and churches is following:
1.Churches you just can't miss:Sao Bernardino De Sena & Nossa Senhora Do Carmo convents,Lapa and Boa Morte(museum of sacred art),Matriz Nossa Senhora Da Conceicao,Ermida Do Senhor Do Bom Fim,Piedade,Ribeira,Santa Luzia!
2.Buildings you just can't miss:Colegio Naval building,Santa Luzia bay,Mmbucaba vilage,Fish market,Chafariz Da Carioca,Aquidaba shipwreck monument(mentioned before),Municipal Council and The City Hall buildings.
In Angra you can enjoy the beach,the bars along the coast,trips to the small islands,to explore the forest and practice many kinds of sports such as biking,
diving,fishing,skiing,paragliding,rafting, surf and sailing.
A good and cheap option,in case you don't have a boat,is to rent one,at the Santa Luzia Dock.
You can rent a boat to take you to the islands and back,or rent a boat for the entire day.
Charges changes from the diferent points you want to visit and the nbr of people.