Ilha Grande Destination Guide

Ilha Grande is an island situated 120 km from Rio de Janeiro, at south coast,  in Brazil. It is under the municipal wing of Angra dos Reis.

Not touched by the tentacles of development, this beautiful island is known for its pristine beaches, lush flora and fauna, and a scenic landscape. Pico da Pedra D'Água is the highest point here (1031m) and the entire land measures about 193 km². Once known for a prison that housed notorious criminals, this island is now known for eco-tourism.

The island of Ilha Grande is a paradise for those who enjoy an active outdoor life and revel in nature.

Check out our Ilha Grande Destination Guide to discover some of the great activities and sites to enjoy while on your holiday in Ilha Grande. Ensure you see the best the island has to offer by joining an Ilha Grande adventure tour. For general information about travelling in Brazil take a look at our Brazil Travel Guide.

Things to See and  do in Ilha Grande

You can still find parts of the Atlantic forests of Brazil at Ilha Grande. It has one of the richest ecosystems in the world and is well known for its biodiversity and conservation activities. It is home to several endangered species. The blue seas around the island are protected areas and are a meeting zone for subtropical, tropical and temperate-zone marine life.

Follow the links to the right or scroll further down the page for details on some of the many interesting tourist attractions in Ilha Grande:

Interesting Forest Trekking Top

Enjoy trekking and hiking? Then Ilha Grande is the place for you! With great ecological walks and treks, there are plenty of trails or trilhas through the Atlantic forests that lead up to the beaches. May to August, with pleasant temperatures and gentle showers, is the best time for these treks.

Araçatiba and Abraão are the starting points of these treks and hikes. You can choose a trekking option to suit your requirements. You can opt for the one-day walk, where you'll leave from and return  within one day. You can alternatively go on two-day walks, where you leave from and return to Araçatiba or Abraão within a span of 48 hours. So choose a trip that you will enjoy and do hire a guide for the trip. Trekking and hiking in Ilha Grande is a real treat!

Book our five day Ilha Grande trekking tour for the ultimate Ilha Grande trekking experience.

Trek to the Pico do Papagaio - 990 meters up hill Top

Pico do Pagaio - Ilha GrandeThe Pico do Papagayo peak, at 990 metres, is the 2nd highest point here. You can see this peak from almost all across the island and it is a very important symbol for everyone here. You will need two to four hours to reach the peak and another two hours to make your way back down. we really recommend you not to venture alone for this long and difficult path that leads to the centre and top of the island. Hire a local guide to lead you safely. See our tour page with our tour options for more information.

Ride on a Brazilian Schooner – Boat Tours Top

Typical schooner - Ilha GrandeEnjoy a ride around the island on escunas, typical boats that are sure to add that romantic touch to your trip. Locals and tourists enjoy rowing across on schooners and most of these leave from Vila do Abraao. You can look for various excursion options, which are offered as packages with different accommodation plans at Bananal, Araçatiba and Sítio Forte.

Mountain Biking in the Forests & Beach Top

Going to Dois Rios beach by bikeHere is some great news for bike fanatics! Rent one at your Local Connection office in Abraao Village and ride across the island. The 3 km stretch from the centre of Abraão Village to the Preta Beach is where the ruins of the Lazareto / prison are situated. From this point, you can also take the Cascade Path (Cachoeira), which ends at the aqueduct.

Mountain lovers will enjoy the road that leads up to Dois Rios Village, where you will find the ruins of the island's last prison, which closed in 1994. Look for mountain bike rentals at your local connection office.

Sea Kayak in Ilha Grande Top

Kayaking in Ilha GrandeKayaking around the island is one of the best ways to soak in the beauty of this place. At Abraão cove, you can row yourself to any of the beaches in 20 or 30 minutes. The sea here is calm, though you should make sure to wear a life jacket. Also while kayaking in Ilha Grande, take someone along and do not venture into the high seas where the waters can get rough. Look for Kayak rental at your local connection office.

Snorkel and Scuba Dive in Ilha Grande - Clear Waters Top

Snorkel and dive in Ilha GrandeFree diving or snorkelling is a good way to enjoy and explore the underwater life. November through May is the best time to snorkel in Ilha Grande. During this time the sea is calm. At 25º C the temperature is comfortable and with a visibility of 5 to 15 metres, the conditions are ideal for snorkelling. You can enjoy a session of snorkelling at the hotspots - the Blue Lagoon, Green Lagoon and Abraãzinho Beach.  Look for snorkelling gear rental at your local connection office. 

For divers, Ilha Grande has cool spots to offer such as Pinguino Shipwreck, Helicopter Shipwreck, Jorge Grego Island and Abraão´s Islands.

Surf In Ilha Grande - Lopes Mendes Top

A breathtakingly beautiful and popular surfing beach on the Brazilian coast, the waters around here are of many different shades of blue and are completely transparent. Being an oceanic beach, it is a haven for surfers in spite of the strong waves. You can access the beach by boat or on foot. Look for surf board rental at your local connection office.

Dois Rios Beach / Village Top

Dois Rios beach - Ilha GrandeDois Rios is the place where until 1994, the last prision of the Ilha Grande was run. Today, the site and the village is administered by the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), which has a Centre for Sustainable Development, operated by students of the courses of botany and marine biology.

Dois Rios (Two Rivers) is so named because on the beach, two rivers flow, one on each side. It is one of the most beautiful places around the island, located on the south coast, facing the Atlantic Ocean. Almost 100% of visitors are provinientes of Abraão, walking for about 2 hours by a road that crosses the island from north to south. Another way to get in Dois Rios is buying a ticket for a tour of schooner, from the Abraão Village.

Caxadaço Beach - Pirates and Slaves Top

Caxadaço beach - Ilha GrandeCaxadaço is a small beach located on the south coast of Ilha Grande, between Dois Rios and Lopes Mendes. The beach is hidden for those who look from the sea because it is protected by a large stone. Because of this, Caxadaço was an appropriate place to house pirates who attacked the merchant ships when sailing the Brazilian coast to Europe. Later, it was the landing point for smuggled black slaves to Africa, which would work in the farms of the island and the mainland. A place of great beauty and mystical atmosphere to the more susceptible people, perhaps because of the area's past influence of death and suffering. Until the 40s, Caxadaço had many inhabitants, but today is a deserted beach and accessible only by trail or boat.

Jorge Grego Island - The Wall and the White Rocks Top

Jorge Grego island - Ilha GrandeJorge Grego is a rocky islet in the open sea, in front of Lopes Mendes and Dois Rios. It is much visited because it is one of the best diving points of the Ilha Grande. "The Wall" is a large rock that rises vertically to 12 metres deep continuing for about 30 metres above the sea. Jorge Grego is the house of many sea birds such as seagulls and atobás living in crevices of rocks, leaving their organic waste in the rocks that appear as large white patches, giving the islet the name the white stones.

Beach of Lopes Mendes Top

Lopes Mendes beach - Ilha GrandeLopes Mendes Beach is Brazil's pride and joy and the most beautiful beach on Ilha Grande. You can access it through the village trail or by boat. In fact, most people prefer to row in from the village to the nearby beach. You can have a whale of a time with your surf board here or you can enjoy the walk along the 2,5 km of beach and cool down in fresh water shower at the end of the beach. And while you're there, don't forget to tuck into the amazing doughnuts that are sold right on the beach!

Saco de Céu - A Sea Lake Paradise Top

Saco do Céu - Ilha GrandeThe around the Saco de Céu is calm since this is an ecological sanctuary. At night, the reflection of twinkling stars can be seen shimmering on the surface of the water. In fact, it's this feature that gives the place its name - Saco de Céu, which actually means Bag of Stars. Mangrove forests line the coast and the place is protected by the irregular coastline. Only those who know of the place can access and navigate safely in the lagoon.

Sailing and Boating in Ilha Grande Bay Top

Boating and sailing in Ilha Grande'There is an island for each day of the year' - this saying holds true for Ilha Grande as there are 360 islands on the Ilha Grande bay. You can explore these on a rented boat or even in your own yacht.

Ilha Grande Bay is known internationally for sailors from all over the world. Many who have visited have returned to make this region their new home for a few days. It is a great area to sail, ride on speed boats and yachts. After the Rio de Janeiro, Angra dos Reis is the region with the largest concentration of boats in Brazil.

Bewitch Cascade – Cachoeira da Feiticeira Top

Cachoeira da Feiticeira - Ilha Grande

This is an interesting walk that you can enjoy on a cloudy day. This stroll combines a visit to the historic Lazareto / prison ruins near Abraão (the quarantine hospital that used to be a jail for political prisoners) with the aqueduct built during Dom Pedro II's time and takes you to the 15 metres high cascade, which is buried deep in the mountain. One will see this geographically rich trail that can certainly trek can tire you out.