By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Just an around two hours drive and short boat trip from Rio de Janeiro away lies the island paradise of Ilha Grande. The “Big Island” has 193 square meters and attracts visitors with several sandy beaches, clear blue water and lush forests and a car-free town.
The main attraction on Ilha Grande is the Lopes Mendes beach, one of the most beautiful beaches of the world according to a TripAdvisor rating from 2013. The beach can be reached via a trek through the island’s forests or by boat. However, due to the surf-friendly the open-water location of Lopes Mendes the boat will stop at another beach most times and the last meters have to be made on foot.
The best way to take in the many beautiful beaches around the island is through a boat trip. The main attractions next to Lopes Mendes, are the beaches of Aventureiro, Fetiçeira and the Green and Blue Lagoon. A short hiking trip away from the main village Abraão also lie the Palmas and Pouso beach, which make for an easier walking day trip.
The general way to get around the island is via taxi boats or along one of the many hiking paths through the lush atlantic forest and Restinga coastal vegetation. For those who favor an activity loaded program to sun-bathing the island offers several hikes. The highest spots are Pico da Pedra D’Água with 1,031 meter altitude and the Pico do Papagaio with 982 meters.
Expat founded hiking blog “Rio for you” is currently mapping all these hikes around the island, helping travelers to find the right path for them and providing detailed descriptions about starting points, duration and difficulty of the hikes. The blog already offers this kind of information for various hikes in and around the city of Rio de Janeiro.
“When looking for information about hikes, one usually finds agencies that offer guided tours but nobody tells you how to get to the starting points of the hikes by yourself and most of them are fine to do without a guide, “ Sharonna co-founder of the blog told The Rio Times.
“If we did find information, usually it was in Portuguese, so especially at the beginning this wasn’t very helpful either,” she added.
Most visitors to Ilha Grande opt for one of the many pousadas around the island’s car-free main town Vila do Abraão. An alternative to the guesthouses provide the camping sites around the island. However, one has to remember that equipment needs to be brought over by boat. A nice pousada is the Australian-led Aratinga Inn located in one of the backstreets of Abraão.
Ilha Grande can be reached by bus to either Conceição de Jacareí, Mangaratiba or Angra dos Reis and a short crossing by boat. Conceição offers the fastest connection as it lies closest to the island. There is an official ferry taking passenger over twice a day, but usually boats lie in the ports waiting for visitors. Another good alternative is to book the entire trip together via agencies such as Easy Transfer.