Difference between revisions of "Ilha Grande"
Revision as of 21:10, 5 May 2011
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.
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.
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.
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.
A few inns with standard prices of USD 30-45. All clean and well managed:
At Crena Beach:
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.