Difference between revisions of "Ilha Grande"
Revision as of 10:26, 22 March 2012
To enter the Ilha Grande is to enter the boat. Ferries operated by Barcas SA  Mangaratiba (105 minutes, starting 8:00 a.m., return 5:30 prices are much more expensive than those charged by Barcas SA, which is the government. The Barcas SA are of the government of Rio de Janeiro is much safer and their staff are top professionals. Terminal Santa Luzia is discouraged. Their prices are much higher than Those of Barcas SA . Another problem is the operating company of this pier, it offers a fast boat, but at the time of shipment you can embark on a slow boat extremamante. Their employees are rude and unprepared to deal with tourism.
If you come from the city of Rio de Janeiro and Angra dos Reis landed at Terminal rodoviário, you can take a taxi or go on foot to the port of Angra dos Reis, is very close and relatively safe.
Another option to get on the Ilha Grande is to go to Conceição de Jacareí which is a district of Mangaratiba or in the center of Magaratiba (address: Rua XI Novembro without No. Mangaratiba) preferably at using Barcas SA, which also operate these terminals . Avoid illegal vessels in Conceiceição de Jacareí are extremamante dangerous and uncomfortable. The Barcas Sa also operates the route between the Conception de Jacareí to Vila do Abraão in the Ilha Grande. (Being more comfortable and organized in Angra dos Reis to the Vila do Abraão) (Go to Angra dos Reis is more comfortable)
Important to note is that there are no banks on the island, the money should be brought since not all hotels, shops and restaurants accept credit cards. From Rio de Janeiro, you can now book online for door to island transfers with the Green Toad Bus  website. Pick-up from your hostel then a 3 hours drive to the docks where the transfer to a boat to travel 30 minutes to the island. You stop at an ATM cash-up before hitting the island which has no ATM machine. They also have bus trips starting from Sao Paulo and Paraty. Daily buses operated by the Costa Verde  out of Rio de Janeiro to Angra dos Reis and Mangaratiba. Daily buses from São Paulo to Angra dos Reis are operated by Reunidas Paulista . Who comes from Rio de Janeiro City, unfortunately, have to use the bus company Costa Verde, with officials unprepared to deal with tourism
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:
Out of Abraão
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.
In the Blue Lagoon (Lagoa Azul) is a lodge where The Island Experience () is located. This is a 7 day adventure spa which offers trekking, kayaking, yoga, massage and a detox menu. During the Brazillian summer it operates as a pousada under the name Estrela da Ilha ().