The scenery you will be encountering is breathtaking. Ilha Grande is one of the last strongholds of the Atlantic Rainforest. Today only 5% of the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest remains. Ilha Grande is a government-protected reserve and you will see one of the richest ecosystems in its virgin state. As you hike you are surrounded by fantastic flora and fauna. Towering palm trees stand up against the blue sky, gigantic Blue Monarch butterflies lead you through the awe-inspiring forest, dramatic slabs of granite cast their cool shadows on each trail, refresh yourself in pools of fresh water springs. Most of our hikes pass through many of the island's secluded beaches. We have carefully selected the most beautiful trails and beaches that exist on this 100 square mile tropical paradise.
Remember there are no cars. You must do everything by foot. The best trails are to Aventuiro Beach, Caxadaca, Praia do Sul, Saco do Ceu, Freguidia de Santana, Lagoa Verde, and praia da Longa. These trail were carved out centuries by the local Indians and have been used for 4ooyears by indians, pirates, farmers, colonizers.
Ilha Grande has many trails that you can walk for hours, and the result will be always an amazing beach and mostly of times that beach will bethere just for you, specially if you choose to visit the island away from busy weekends or high season.
Not so far from the main village Abraão, there is a path which cross some hills and after 3 horus walking you reach another very nice village called DOIS RIOS, the trail is quite famous because it leads you to the ruins of an old prison.
AND THE BEACH THERE IS SIMPLY GORGEOUS, if you are lucky, that paradise will be there just for you and your friends!
Dois Rio has a river which ends in the sea, and the water is simply sparkling..you can take the salt of your body swimming in the cool waters of this river...privacy, freedom and natural beauty all there waiting for you!!!
DOIS RIOS IS A REAL MUST IN ILHA GRANDE!
Itaguaçu is one of the best beaches in Ilha Grande, in my opinion....located 15 minutes from Praia Vermelha on trail, it´s small, but great to spend the day. There are no vendors, no bungalows selling food, barely any visitors, except for an old house that works as a small simple hotel.
The water is from turquoise to green and the shore is surrounded by huge rocks.
Gruta do Acaia (Acaia´s cave) is different from everything else in the island...
The cave itself is the strangiest rock formation...the "ceiling" is a huge rock, that is carefully positioned for its final border to end meters inside the water...For this reason, there are 2 ways of reaching the cave, one from an open passage in dryland, and other, from the sea, by diving into a flat rock passage. The cave is completely dark, there´s no other light coming from it, except for the light transmitted from the water...this causes the neon, blue luminous effect the water has inside.
But even better, is to stick your face into the neon blue water, and check out with the snorkel equipment what the water hides...you can see the flat rock passage dripping itself into the ocean, and loathes, tons of fish on the middle...
But of course, for every exquisite paradise, there´s something wrong to it, that just makes it more kept out from human influence...there are many things you should consider:
1. Difficult access: from dryland, reached by boat or trail (2-3 hours from Praia Vermelha, with a never ending ascent on the beggining, lots of ups and downs...), the entrance to the cave is narrow and dark, so you have to crawl some meters before reaching a point you can stand on your feet. From underwater, if it´s okay for you to dive into the flat rock passage to get into the cave, with the tide pushing you back and forth...it´s advisable to come well prepared, with good equipment and to have expertise.
2.Dangerous: there are stories of death on the water entrance, i don´t know about the conditions involved, but certainly it´s not a good idea if the tide is too strong, or if the weather is bad, and if you are alone. The entrance to the cave from dryland is not advisable in a bad weather as well, as the owner of the land told us (because then the tide is stronger and the water can occupy most of the cave).
3. Preparation: you must be prepared to enter the cave...that means taking lamps, coming in groups, gathering information...
Lagoa Verde (=green laggon) is one of the great places for snorkelling in the island. It´s a bay, split by half with a string of sand, with perfectly clear waters. It can be accessed on boat (and many agencies make this trip, together with the blue laggon or Acaia cave) or walking, by trail from Araçatiba (3 hours of moderate difficulty.....). There´s a floating little bar.....and nothing else.
Praia vermelha (=reb beach) is another option to stay in, also acessible on boat, or by trail, from Araçatiba. From there, you can get to the beach Provetá, Itaguaçu and Gruta do Acaiá (Acaia´s cave). There are restaurants, phones, guesthouses, many locals rent houses for groups of tourists....
This beach is located 10 minutes away from the beach of Araçatiba, on a easy trail. It´s a little beach with emmerald waters, barely any waves....an ideal place to spend the day relaxing. There´s an old port, not very used in the middle of the beach...good to plunge in =)
The hills between the beach are a good point for snorkelling...
There´s no doubt the greatest part of tourists concentrate themselves in the village of Abraão and the beaches near it, on the north side. But just like the name says, the island is huge, and there are many other beaches and places to stay besides Abraão...
Araçatiba is located in the west, less frequented side of the island, still facing the bay, so therefore, very accessible on standard boats...the village is much simpler than Abraão, there aren´t many options for nightlife, but there are local restaurants and many guesthouses or how we say in portuguese. "pousadas", telephone...as well as camping sites. The smaller beach close to Araçatiba, called Araçatibinha, is a great place to spend the day in peace and quiet....
Most of the locals live from tourism, or fishing.....many of them own boats, so it´s not difficult to get a boat to take you to other places in the bay, including other islands. This is ideal for those traveling in groups....you can close a boat for you and then split the price....you can leave the time you want...One of the places to arrange that is inside the local market in Araçatiba.
Lagoa azul (=blue lagoon) is a bay with transparent waters.....there is no beach, the only access is by boat...you can arrange it with the agencies...they organize many trips that ends at Blue Lagoon but visit other places as well, such other islands from Angra, or other beaches in Ilha Grande like Bananal, Santana, Lagoa Verde...
It´s usually a tourist spot for snorkelling and swimming, the visibility of the water is very good, there are loads of fish near the reefs....but don´t expect a beach....it´s a snorkel point....there´s only one tiny piece of sand.....=)
There are several hiking trails on the island but a destination that is challenging to get to but not frequented is the pico do papagaio or "parrots beak". We did not go due to time constraints but I will be sure to complete the climb next time!
Ilha Grande is an island just off the coast south of Rio. It is a wonderful island with loads of beaches, hiking, boating to do. A wonderful place on the island is Lopez Mendez. It requires taking a boat around the other side of the island followed by a brief hike through the jungle, but when you get to the sand and the suft it if well worth it.
The fact that there was a high security jail in Ilha,kept the island away from tourist,as none could visit in many parts of it.
This way,the preservation of its environment was a fact by the isolation of part of its area.
I don't think this place can handle the nbr of tourists that invade the villages every summer,carnavals or holidays,because its structure matches more for eco-tourism only.
The tourism here is like a 9 years old child,as it begun in 1993,and the facilities are missed in many places,but us,as visitors in this paradise,are responsable too, for keeping the place as we never had been here!
This is another view from the peak.
I know it'll be a hard trecking,but you should try to get there climbing,makes the taste of the views much better!!