Situated along Brazil’s “Costa Verde”, Ilha Grande, is by far the most beautiful place I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. It is located just 4 hours of Rio de Janeiro, reachable by jetboats from Angra dos Reis port.
Ilha Grande is a fantastic destination for solo travellers, like I was during my travels there. It is probably one of the safest places in Brazil – with an almost non-existent crime rate. As a single woman, even walking around at night did not make me feel unsafe at all.
Once you arrive at the island, your only mode of transportation is either by boat, bike or by foot! So, make sure you pack light and don’t even think of lugging around a suitcase! Otherwise, you’ll be dragging it along the sandy beaches or the cobblestone streets (while most likely walking uphill!) in order to reach your pousada (hotel).
Upon arrival in Abraao Port, make your way to an information centre where the staff will give you directions to your hotel. That’s the extent of help you get, unless you are staying in one of the exclusive hotels. The exclusive hotels often have a guide and boat waiting for you at the port where they take you to their own private jetty. Do not fear if your trip was planned last minute! Ask the friendly locals for directions. Many are helpful and know English thanks the many English-speaking tourists that arrive by cruise ships.
My beachfront accommodation
I stayed at the 3-star (tourist class) property of Pousada Ancoradouro in a beach font room. Falling asleep and waking up to the sound of the waves was heaven for me!
I arrived at 11am, however, after settling in and eating some lunch, I found that the town was quite dead! All the boats were out for the day taking tourists to places like Lopes Mendes beach. So, my tip is to arrive early! Make the most of your first day by catching one of the water taxis to snorkel, visit beaches or go on a tour.
One my first day, I walked along the edge of the island for about 45 minutes and made some friends along the way. I walked up some rocky hills, and waded through waist high water. Another tip, buy a waterproof phone case or bag to protect your items!
I followed a sound trail of Bossa Nova (samba) which led me to a hotel playing live music. With a caipirinha in hand, floating in tranquil water and the sunset in the background – it was perfect way to end the day! I made my way back to my hotel where I danced the night away with some new found friends.
The next morning, I set off for my full day Island Hopping Tour to Lagoa Verde, Lagoa Azul and a few other beaches and snorkelling spots. The snorkelling at the lagoons was amazing. The sun was shining bright, which made the bluest and most pristine waters so clear. I could easily see the beautiful fish swimming around me. The lagoons were picturesque and tranquil. Many of which were framed by palm trees and banks dotted with rocks – a secluded paradise!
Being able to travel alone on this trip was something that was much needed. I usually either travel solo with my two young kids, or travel with extended family. However, I was able to recharge and disconnect from the world, and do it in paradise.It was a quick, but beautiful and unforgettable trip. I long to visit with my kids and partner so I can share the natural beauty of Ilha Grande. There were so many beaches that I didn’t get to visit, and I will ensure to visit on my next trip.
If you have three- or four-days spare while in Rio, I definitely recommend you travel to Ilha Grande and stay on the Island, as opposed to only going for the day. I promise it will be worth it! The pristine beaches with their tranquil aqua waters, combined with the laid-back vibe of the locals – is enough to want to throw your life away and move to this idyllic paradise!