The only way to get to Ilha Grande is by boat. There are a few ways to get catch the Ferries to Vila Abrão from the mainland. Getting to the ferry you can take a bus or drive. The drive from Rio to Angra is about 2.5 hours. Daily buses from Rio are operated by Costa Verde, buses from Sao Paulo are operated by Reunidas Paulista.
1.Leave fromMangaratiba takes 105 minutes, departure 8:00AM, return 5:30PM, with an additional departure on Friday at 10PM. Bus or drive from Rio to Angra (2.5 hours drive) then Catamaran (30-40mins) Schooner (1-2hours)
2. Leave from Angra dos Reis the catamaran takes about 40mins-an hour while the schooner takes about 1.5-2 hours. The schedule is changed frequently so make sure you check before hitting the road! Prices are significantly lower on Monday through Thursday than on Fridays, weekends and holidays. There are also several private boats from the port in Angra to Vila do Abraão, leaving almost every hour (depeding on the demand). Prices may vary from R$20-R$30. 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!
WHERE TO STAY
It depends what you are looking for as there are many types of hotel options for you in Ilha Grande. If you want to be near the town there are tons of hotels and hostels in the village of Abraao, but there are also plenty of options for those of you seeking a more remote and secluded vacation.
Asalem the eco suite looks amazing!
Vila Pedramar its on Lagoa Verde which is beautiful but very remote
Estrela da Ilha $$$$$ beautiful and secluded
There are more than 80 incredible beaches to explore in Ilha Grande I highly recommend taking one of the boat tours: Phoenix Turismo offers services that include private boat tours, bike rentals (R$10/40 per hour/day), kayak rentals (R$10/30 per hour/six hours), surfboard rentals (R$40 per day), treks with bilingual guides (R$40 to R$50), round-the-island boat tours (R$60 to R$150), and daily schooner excursions to prime beaches and snorkeling spots, including Lopes Mendes (R$15), Saco do Céu (R$25 to R$30) and the twin lagoons Lagoa Azul and Lagoa Verde (R$35 to R$40).
Beaches to see:
Abraao’s Cove: Home to a majority of the restaurants, bars and hotels as well as the main port
Palms Cove: an active beach lined with palm trees is the site of a few ship wrecks
Lopes Mendes: Described as one of the most perfect beaches in the world, the only way to get there is to take a boat to Pouso Beach and hike (2omin) trail to the beach. The beach is good for surfing, and by the end of beach, there is a nice waterfall. Read more HERE
Dois Rios and Caxadaco: Beautiful beach long beach, explore the slave quarters that turned into a prison, the town, and see the little waterfalls. Caxadaco is a beautiful hidden gem thatconnects to Dois Rios by an ancient stone sidewalk made by slaves
Praia de Parnaioca: One of the most secluded beaches in Ilha Grande.
Lagoa Verge (Green Lagoon): Yes it is bright green, great snorkeling and diving-the ship Pinguino which wrecked on the center of the cove is 1967 is a big diving attraction.
Azul Lagoa (Blue Lagoon): Beautiful, great snorkeling, read more HERE
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
Hiking, Surfing, Swimming, Diving and more! Any outdoor adventure you can think of!
There are tons of trails for those of you who like to hike, pick up a map at the port (it has all of the trails marked out). A good one to try is: Circuito doAbraao: The Circuito do Abraão is a short jaunt 1.7km return hike that leads past two small beaches to the claustrophobic moss-covered stone ruins of Ilha Grande’s other former prison, Lazareto, shut down in 1954. This easy hike affords some pretty views of Pico do Papagaio and takes you past an old aqueduct adjoined by a large swimming hole called Poção, perfect for a picnic and a dip. Along the way you can hear all sorts of birds and jungle creatures, and you may run into local kids jumping into the water on their way home from school.
Canoeing/ Kayaking: great way to explore the hidden beaches
Pico do Papagaio (Parrot Peak): the symbol of Ilha Grande and the only place for Rock Climbing. Note: you must have appropriate rock climbing equipment.
See the waterfalls: Of the waterfalls in Ilha Grande, the Feiticeira Waterfall is the most visited and the only one with an access trail for repelling.
Santana’s Church: A beautiful church, with a mill and coffee farm ruins spread through the forest and beach.
Aquaduct:Built in 1983 and still beautifully preserved, similar to the Lapa Arches. It is a 20min hike from Abraao and has a natural pool and small waterfall
Surfing: Head to Lopes Mendes
Acaia Cave: A hole in the woods with a stairway to the darkness…crawl 10meters through a claustrophobic chamber that reaches an amazing subterranean pool. Its the South American Blue Grotto:)
Castelhanos Lighthouse: to get there take a boat or the 3-4 hour hike..
A Divers Paradise Ilha Grande is one of the best dive sites in Brazil with spectacular transparency, explore the 180 islands, reefs, caves, helicopter wreck and ship wrecks. Here are a few sites worth visiting:
Ilha Jorge Grego: ideal spot for those who like to take photos and videos, there is a wrecked boat, caves to explore, many fish, turtles, eagle rays, moray eels, groupers, beautiful coral and more!
Acaia Cave: A spectacle of lights for highly experienced divers!
O Pescador: The cozily furnished and romantically lit it is one of the island’s best choices for a fancy beachfront dinner. Read more HERE
Dom Mario:Long-time local chef Mário cooks up seafood specialties like filé de peixe ao molho de maracujá (fish fillet with passion fruit sauce) and scrumptious desserts, including his trademark caramelized banana – Travessa Bunganville
Toscanelli: Located at the Sagu Hotel. This Italian restaurant is set on a a shady terrace with stone walls and sea views
Corsario Negro: Friendly indoor-outdoor restaurant restaurant serves tasty plates of fresh seafood including paella, Located on Rua Alice Kury 90
Canoas: A beautiful little restaurant at the end of the strip of simialr locations parallel to the beach at Abraao. It is a little yellow building with stars (estrelas) lit and hanging in the doorway and a bar made of an old wooden canoe- hence the name Canoa (canoe in portugese).
Lua e Mar (Moon and Sea): Candlelit tables on the sand make a tranquil place to watch the crashing waves and scurrying crabs while you enjoy tasty seafood dishes for two onPraia do Canto
Marbella: For incredible pizza this indoor-outdoor restaurant hits the spot, read more HERE
GOOD TO KNOW:
There is no bank or cash-dispenser on the island and the credit cards are not accepted everywhere, so good to bring some extra cash.
There are no roads / car traffic and wild camping is forbidden.
DON’T FORGET TO BRING: Flashlight and Bug spray!