Ilha Grande Travel Guide | Brazil

In this article, I will cover how to get to and enjoy the beautiful Ilha Grande on the Brazil coast near Rio de Janeiro.


Ilha Grande Travel Guide:

  1. Ways to enjoy Ilha Grande

  2. How to get to Ilha Grande

  3. What to do on Ilha Grande

  4. Hotels on Ilha Grande

  5. Video

Ways to enjoy Ilha Grande


Apart from the obvious way of traveling to Ilha Grande and staying there for a few days, a very popular way how to enjoy the island and surrounding area are by boat!


One option is for you to rent your own boat or rent a boat with a captain that takes you around. Those usually will be small speed boats. This you can arrange in a city called Angra dos Reis, which is officially the main city that connects the mainland to the island.

Another option is to go on a boat tour organized by a travel agency. Those will be bigger ships and you will be part of a large group of people. This is a good option if you are in Rio de Janeiro and want to get to Ilha Grande without an extra hustle as the agencies will organize a transfer for you from Rio to the port where the ship will leave, which usually is the already mentioned city - Angra dos Reis.



During this organized trip you visit several beaches, and you have time to snorkel (usually the company has snorkeling equipment to offer, you don't need to buy your own unless you want to). You are also taken to a lunch spot and you return by watching the sunset. Our ship also had a bar so we could enjoy the day with some Caipirinhas.


I chose to do the boat trip and I absolutely loved it. Here is my trip to Ilha Grande:

These organized tours cost around 300 BRL per person. (~ 55 EUR / 46 GBP /56 USD)

How to get to Ilha Grande

If you decided that you do want to go to Ilha Grande yourself and stay there then first you will need to get to one of the ports that have commercial ships going to the island's main village - Abraão.


The best places from where to go, as the ships go regularly are - Angra dos Reis, Mangaratiba or Conceição de Jacareí.


The ride takes around an hour. There is only one place where the ships stop - Abraão. So make sure you have arranged with your hotel how to get to your accommodation.


What to do on Ilha Grande


Relax at the beautiful beaches

Ilha Grande is famous for its unspoiled beaches and beautiful scenery around them.


Here are some of the best beaches on the island:
  • Lopes Mendes beach

  • Palmas Beach

  • Parnaioca beach


Hike around the island

One of the best activities to do on the island is hiking because cars are not allowed on the island so there are no real roads or traffic. Island has several hiking routes.


The toughest one but most rewarding will be the hike to Pico do Papagaio. It is a quite steep and long way up. The whole journey there and back will take around 8 hours. Note, that this trip you can only do with a local guide. You will be able to get one at the island's main village Abraão.


Ilha Grande was closed to visitors for a long time because it had maximum security prison there. They closed the prison and opened the island for tourists in 1994.

The most thrilling hike probably is the one to Vila de Dois Rios because it is near the abandoned prison and the trail features some ghost houses that hold stories from the times the prison was open. The hike starts from Abraão and is fairly long - 16km but relatively easy.


Hike to Cachoeira da Feiticeira will reward you with a beautiful waterfall at the end!


Diving

There is a possibility to go dividing around the island. You will see not only different fish but also turtles! To organize a diving session you will need to head to the main village Abraão. There you can find Elite Dive Center.

Snorkeling

If diving is too much, then a great alternative is snorkeling! The best place where to snorkel is Lagoa Azul. Another place for snorkeling that was recommended to me is Lagoa Verde.


Visit waterfalls

The biggest and most famous one is Feiticeira. You can get there only by walking and the walk will be through a jungle so be ready.


Another waterfall you can check out is Cachoeira dos Escravos.


Check out some caves

Ilha Grande also has caves, the most breathtaking are the Gruta do Acaiá (Cave Acaiá). The most beautiful part is the color of the water - turquoise luminescent. A truly magical experience. The entrance fee to the caves is quite high, unfortunately: 170 BRL (~ 31 EUR / 26 GBP /32 USD).


Hotels on Ilha Grande

There are several options starting from very basic hostels to amazing boutique hotels. Either way, you won’t find a cheap option. To stay on the island costs more than average stays. Simply because there are so few hotels on the island, the competition is not that great.


When I originally was planning my trip to Ilha Grande I thought I will be staying on the island and these are the top hotels I saved for the trip:

I hope this article will help you plan your trip to Ilha Grande better!