Ilha Grande is a small idyllic island just off Brazil’s emerald green coastline half way between Rio and Sao Paulo. Made up of wild sandy beaches intertwined with mountainous jungle, it offers the perfect opportunity to simply relax and enjoy the pristine surroundings or get active and explore. It gets our vote here at Imagine Latin America and we think it’s a main contender for Brazil’s best beach destination.
As well as being the perfect spot for beach lovers, Ilha Grande is also famed for its lush rainforest – it’s a nature-lovers playground. If you’re not one to sit still there are many hiking trails to explore: one of the most popular is a two and a half hour hike to Lopes Mendes, the most stunning and highly rated beach in Brazil (maybe even South America). The sea is crystal clear and an incredible emerald green colour, whilst the beach is 3km of perfect, white sand that squeaks beneath you. Hiking through the luscious rainforest on rugged terrain will reward you with a variety of wildlife, from howlers bellowing in the distance, capuchins larking in the trees and parrots squawking overhead. Hiking in the high humidity is tough, but worth it when you hear the roaring of the waves and you witness the empty stretch of pure white sand. If hiking’s not for you Lopes Mendes can also be reached by boat, which is perfect for those who don’t fancy the long walk back.
As well as sunbathing or walking, there are plenty of activities on offer such as going on a boat trip exploring the various coves on the island, snorkelling, kayaking or simply just relaxing in a hammock with a caipirinha in hand.
The tiny fishing village of Vila do Abraao is dotted with an assortment of low level pousadas that blend beautifully in to their surroundings, as well as a mix of restaurants, shops and bars to compliment your stay. From honeymoons to family breaks, Ilha Grande offers something for all.
When to go
The best time for travel is December through March.