SMOLLTRONSTÄLLE: ILHA GRANDE18:34:00
not an insider tip. But it feels exactly like it. Ilha Grande, a
beautiful island, only two hours from Rio de Janeiro is a protected
national park, without cars and just a tiny village. The rest of the
island is covered in tropical rainforest and beautiful beaches. Our trip
was completely spontaneous, but I guess this is how you find paradise.
Laying on the white beach, walking to a beautiful waterfall through the
deep jungle, drinking Caipirinhas at night under a huge tree on the
beach, eating a delicious late night burger in Vila do Abraao before
leaving the island the next day... it was the perfect getaway. I will come back I promise!
From Rio´s bus stations take one of the very comfy climated buses down the coast towards this gorgeous island. We just walked in, bought a ticket for the next possible bus and then waited for a bit. There are numerous buses leaving each day.
From one of the bus stops along the coast you can take fast catamarans (relatively expensive), the big ferry from Angras dos Reis or a small boat from Mangaratiba, that is cheaper and takes longer hence leaving you more time to enjoy the gorgeous scenery. Make sure to check the departure times, there aren´t countless boats going to and from the island and also do not forget to take enough cash, there are no ATMs on Ilha Grande.
There are a lot of family led guest houses, with little rooms in the main town of the island Vila do Abraão (which has an impressive number of 3000 inhabitants). You can just walk around and ask the owner of these Pousadas for their rooms and prices. There are also some little hostels along the beach and more luxurious rooms as well, but I think you get the beast steal in one of the Pousadas. We spent our nights in the Aquário Hostel, that lays directly on the sea, offers parties and barbecues on the pretty terrace and also has a natural pool which is so clear that you can watch fishes from above.
What to do
Ilha Grande is a quiet, tiny island. There are no cars, no ATMs and only one small town. But it has some really gorgeous natural sights. Next to the famous tropical beaches with glistening white sand, there are huge waterfalls and deep jungle in the center of the island. There are numerous tracks lined out, that you can just follow along. I highly recommend dipping into the waterfalls and if you have time to climb up the highest mountain of the island, called the parrot head. You can also take boat tours around the island to snorkle and explore some of the more remote and even prettier beaches.
There is not much of a nightlife, but there are beautiful beach bars, where you can enjoy a cold caipirinha and great talks, while holding your feet in the ocean that climbs up the beach during the tide. You should also eat a burger at the burger stand close to the center of Vila do Abraão. Basically do all the things you ever dreamt of doing on a remote island: explore the jungle, lay on the beach, have cocktails on the beach and enjoy life.