Ever wanted to feel like a real Robinson Crusoe and arrive on a tropical island with stunning nature and splendid beaches? Then, you should grab your backpack and travel to Ilha Grande and get to know this breathtakingly beautiful island near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Ilha Grande is a small Brazilian island with some 5000 inhabitants, situated west of Rio de Janeiro. To get there, you need to travel to Angra dos Reis to hop on a boat that takes you straight to this paradise. This nearly hour-long boat ride provides you with some gorgeous views and makes you feel all excited when you get to the island’s main village, Abraão, and see a first glimpse of its natural beauty.
Behind the beauty lies a rather sad history though, with the island having served as a leper’s island in the 19th century, and as a prison for political prisoners and others during the military dictatorship in the first half of the 20th century.
Get ready for sandy roads, bare feet, and some incredibly fresh and clean air, due to the fact that there is no motorized traffic allowed on the island — except for an ambulance and a fire truck, of course.
A mandatory trip when you’re at Ilha Grande is an excursion to Lopes Mendes Beach with its excellent waves. It’s ranked as one of the ten most beautiful beaches in Brazil, which, for a country with a coastline of more than 7000 km, obviously means a lot. Catch another boat that will take you to the opposite side of the island, where a 30-minute hiking trail to Lopes Mendes lies ahead. But don’t worry, the beach is worth the hike! Be sure you pack some food and drinks though, because Lopes Mendes is a deserted beach without any bars or shops, which all adds to its beauty, of course.
Ilha Grande is also a real hiking paradise for who like a good climb. You can hike to the two highest points of the island: Pico da Pedra d’Água and the Pico do Papagaio, both near 1000 meters high. Due to bad weather conditions, we couldn’t go and check this out by ourselves unfortunately. If you ever give it a try, make sure you take off soon enough though, so you won’t get stuck in the dark!
In Abraão, the only real village on the island, you can still visit the old prison and get a taste of a real Brazilian night, with great food, people and caipirinhas! There’s also a lovely cat which treated us with regular visits in our room!
Go and have your own Ilha Grande expedition, you Robinson!