Ilha Grande is a beautiful Brazilian island, about 150 km from Rio de Janeiro and 450 km from São Paulo. The largest settlement on the island is called Vila Abrão.
The only way to get to Ilha Grande is by boat. Ferries operated by BARCAS S/A  to Vila Abrão from the mainland leave from Mangaratiba (105 minutes, departure 8:00AM, return 5:30PM, additional departure Friday 10PM) and from Angra dos Reis (90 minutes, departure M-F 3:30PM, Sa,Su 1:30PM, return 10AM). Note that the schedule is changed frequently. Prices are significantly lower on Monday through Thursday than on Fridays, weekends and holidays.
Another good service is the fast connnection to Ilha Grande. they pick you up at your hotel in Rio de Janeiro and provide your trip to Ilha Grande for R$ 75 per person. Daily trips at 5:00AM or 11:00AM. Visit www.ilhagrandetours.com
There are also several private boats from Angra dos Reis port to Vila do Abraão, leaving almost every hour (depeding on the demand). Prices may vary from R$ 15,00 do R$ 25,00. If you walk near the pier and look like a tourist you will be approached by these boat operators. Note that they may not be entirely truthful about how soon their boat will depart - if you are told to wait on a pier and see no boat nearby, find another operator.
Important to note is that there are no banks on the island, cash should be brought since not all hotels, shops and restaurant accepts credit card.
Daily buses operated by Costa Verde leave from Rio de Janeiro to Mangaratiba and Angra dos Reis. Daily buses from São Paulo to Angra dos Reis are operated by Reunidas Paulista.
There are no roads and no private cars on the island. A good option is to use Vila do Abraão as a base and plan day trips from there. There are several hiking trails to the many beaches on the island. Some trails can be strenuous in the tropical weather, so be prepared and take plenty of fluid. Remember that night falls early and dawn is short near the equator, so carry a flashlight if you plan to return after 6PM. Many beaches can be reached by boat and several agencies in Vila do Abraão sell packages for the numerous schooners serving the island. It is easy to find one-way trips and pick ups back to Vila do Abraão on many beaches in the evening.
It is possible to walk around the outside of the island in about 4 or 5 days if you're not in too much of a hurry. Its best to start at Abraão and go in an anticlockwise direction, through Dois Rios. Note that accommodation on the back side of the island is scarce and free camping is illegal. At Parnaioca beach on the backside, arguably one of the most beautiful spots on the whole island and worth spending at least a couple of days at, you can ask for accommodation in the local houses (there are only about 8 people living there); ask for Sr. João, he'll help you out. Meals can also be purchased, but variety is very limited, so it might be a good idea to take some food. There used to be a camping ground there with some very limited infrastructure run by the locals, but in 2006 that was prohibited by the national environmental agency (IBAMA), and was still prohibited at the end of 2007, although the locals were apparently appealing this ruling.
There are beautiful beaches, some considered to be among the nicest of Brazil.
- Art Gallery inside of Vivenda das Bromelias Inns
- Candido Mendez Jail Ruins en Dois Rios - It´s not preserved or restored but come here and remember that the most dangerous criminals in Brazil were kept here
- In Parnaioca Beach (not easy to reach) there are other remainders of the slave period. The dark past of the island: jail prisioners, slaves, pirates and lepers in the Lazareto Hospital. Many people affirm that they have seen phantoms in Parnaoica or Caxadaco beaches.
- Enseada do Bananal, what a nice quiet location.
- Beaches - Lopes Mendes beach in Ilha Grande was voted one of the top 10 most beautiful in the world by Vogue Magazine 3 years ago. The water is shallow a long way out, making for good surfing conditions. The usual boat route takes you from the main settlement to another beach on the opposite side of the island. From here, there are 20 minutes of relatively steep footpath to Lopes Mendes to get you nice and ready for a dip. Beware of strong currents a bit out.
- Diving at Sitio Forte
- Hiking in the rain forest at Papagaio Peak - A 2-3 hour hike to the peak. Marked, despite some warnings you may hear, and with a beautiful view at the top. Bring lots of water.
- Trails (Trilhas) There are thirteen well marked trails.
There are a few souvenir shops in Vila do Abraão selling t-shirts, magnets and other stuff. In fact, there is nothing typical or special to buy in Ilha Grande.
- Pastel de frango at Crena Beach
There are about 30 restaurants in the island. Some are expensive but there are many cheaper options like hamburgers. Try FOOD for KILO; pay about US $0.80 per 100g for very nice food.
The seafood is generally very good and could perhaps be regarded as a specialty. Many restaurants offer casseroles with several types of seafood, served as a dish for two. Although in the higher price range for Ilha Grande, they are delicious and good value for money. The best place to go for traditional Brazilian is Frutos do Mar located on Rue da Praia.
Try their Brazilian fish stew, that alone is worth the journey to Ilha Grande.
There is no clubbing scene or electronic dance - at night it's drinking beer in the main square and dancing with live local music like bossa nova, forró, and samba. One recent and popular bar is the Cafe Do Mar , which is on the eastern side of Villa do Abraao. Right next to the beach, they serve cold beer, mean caipirinhas and cool music, in a very chilled out atmosphere. They also have well attended BBQ nights, which offer delicious fresh fish etc and serve narghile (also known as sheesha). Kebab is their sister bar in the town itself, offering Greek style kebabs with great juices, drinks and cocktails and the same funky atmosphere. Here there is also a little wok bar where you can see them make noodles for you. Restaurante Esquinas Bar is a good place to sit by the beach. You grab a beer, meet some people, buy some artcrafts and hear the locals play Brazilian music. If it rains, don't worry, it'll pass.
There are plenty of accommodations in Vila Abraão, plus a couple of camping grounds. Free camping is illegal, but you might get away with it on some beaches.
There are a couple of youth hostels. The best one is a small trek uphill but it is worth passing the first HI and heading up to this one which is in more natural surroundings. Wildlife abundant.
Abraão is basically comprised of two main parallel streets. One goes right by the ocean and the other goes right behind it. As you get off the boat on the pier go to the second street from the ocean and turn left. Most of the budget hostels are on this street. The first you should see is Resta 1. There are also 2 hostels at the end of the beach on the left hand side as you get off the boat. In high season a lot of hostels can be full. Several camping grounds are also available. One which is fairly centrally located and is very likely to have some vacancies is Santana´s Camping. Located on the opposite side to Resta 1 on the street connecting two main streets.
- Pousada do Holandes, . Dorm bed R$ 25.
- Pousada Resta 1. Dorm bed R$ 50.
- Over Nativa.
- Bugio Hostel.
- Pousada Paloma.
- Pousada Beira Mar, Rua da Praia (ten meters from the eastern pier in Vila Abraão), ☎ +55 (0XX) 24 3361 5051 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Clean, pleasant pousada with German management, in a perfect location in Vila Abraão. The breakfast buffet is great. If you want to spoil yourself, get one of the front rooms with hammocks where you can watch the people and boats at the piers. Rooms cost from 80 R$ in low season, add about 50% in high season.
- Pousada Naturalia, Rua da Praia, ☎ +55 24 3361 9583 (email@example.com), . Beautiful natural eco-friendly (they use solar panels) pousada, hidden within the quiet side of Vila Abraão. All rooms have balconies with hammock and garden chairs, table, facing the quiet sea with palm trees framing the view. The staff is extra friendly and helpful, and will provide you with the best tips for your time in Ilha Grande. The owner greets you personally with a freshly squeezed juice of the day, and a great smile. Breakfast is served at a lounge where a big rock sits next to it, and humming birds coming by to have their share. Has to be one of the best pousada in Ilha Grande. From about R$120.
A few inns with standard prices of USD 30-45. All clean and well managed:
- Dos Meros
At Crena Beach:
- Asalem, Praia da Crena, ☎ +55 24 3361 5602 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Asalem has a a better and private setting. The seaside hideaway has only 6 enchanting waterfront Suites surrounded by the rain forest that overlooks the calm bay of Crena beach. This proximity to the ocean offers rare, intimate glimpses of sea creatures such as starfish and turtles, as well as abundant schools of fish. The forest brings frequent visitors, including monkeys, squirrels, fireflies, blue butterflies and a wide variety of exotic tropical birds. This unspoiled peace of paradise is the perfect spot for honeymooners looking for privacy - they are located just 20 minutes away from the main village walking in an accessible path or 5 minutes by our own taxi boat, available 24/7. The Eco-Honeymoon suite is the best that can be found in the island - worth it. The owner is a worldly known photographer who personally takes care of all the details, together with his wife. Aracatiba town is a cheaper option but it doesn't offer much in terms of tourist facilities, it´s more for weekend tourists who live in Angra dos Reis area already. Its location is far away from Abraão, Lopes Mendes or Dois Rios, so it's not a very convenient choice if it's your first visit to the island. Bananal Beach or Sitio Forte have nice mini-resorts, a good option for honeymooners. ==Contact== *Internet cafes charge around R$6 per hour. Public phones can be found everywhere. ==Get out== * Angra -> Abraão = Mon to Fri 3:30PM - R$ 6,50. Sat/Sun/Holidays 1:30PM - R$ 14 (single) / R$25 (return). * Abraão -> Angra = Mon to Fri @ 10AM - R$ 6,50. Sat/Sun/Holidays @ 10AM - R$ 14 (single) / R$25 (return) * Mangaratiba -> Abraão = Mon-Fri 5:30PM - R$6,35. Sat/Sun/Holidays 5:30PM - R$14(single)/R$25(return). * Abraão -> Mangaratiba = Mon-Fri(Fri also 10PM) 8AM - R$ 6,35. Sat/Sun/Holidays 8AM - R$14(single)/ R$25(return) * There is a ferry' to Angra dos Reis every day at 10AM. * Some boats have Mangaratiba routes at 10AM with a connection to Rio de Janeiro, but take care choose the Original Fast Connection, with legal vehicles, or-- you need take a minibus to the main route and then take a bus on the highway to Rio. It's better to go to Angra dos Reis, take the Costa Verde bus, wait for the ferry at the pier, and go directly to the bus station in Rio de Janeiro. * A couple of agencies, for instance 'Fast Connnection Island Travel with an office right by the piers, offer "express connection" to Rio. You go by speedboat to the mainland and a van transports you to your hotel in Rio. At R$65 this can be a good option and actually not much more expensive than paying for a ferry ticket + bus to Rio + taxi from the Rio bus terminal. However, the claims of getting to Rio in less than 2 hours should NOT be counted on. For instance, in case of bad weather the speed boat will not depart and you will be put on the regular ferry - the trip to Rio may then take six hours or even more. Don't risk missing your flight home.
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From about R$294.