By Chesney Hearst, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Angra dos Reis, meaning ‘Kings’ Harbor’, counts 365 islands and some 2,000 beaches, all just a few hours away by bus southwest from the city of Rio along the Costa Verde (Green Coast). Most travelers come to know the area as the main ferry point to the famous yet rustic Ilha Grande, but this small city has its own points-of-interest to be explored.
The ride down the scenic Costa Verde region winds along the mountainous coast through sections of abundantly green Mata Atlântica (Atlantic Forest). This beautiful area with its lush landscape has seen a rise in ecological tourism in recent years.
Once arrived, the Estrada do Contorno (Contour Road) offers a nice scenic walk through the town that, conveniently for travelers, can be started from the bus terminal. The fully paved two-lane Estrada do Contorno begins near the city’s center and runs 18km (11 Miles) to the neighborhood of Encruzo da Enseada.
Along the road are the Colégio Naval (Naval College) and Hotel Angra Inn and the Blue Tree Park Hotel. The beaches of Praia das Gordas, Figueira, and Praia Grande can also be found here with their crystal waters.
“I love to spend a day at the beach, Praia Grande,” said Marcelo Gomes, a resident who transferred from the state of Paraná to work at the shipyard in Angra dos Reis. “You can drink a beer and eat a fish. It’s all very calm. The views of the ocean are beautiful.”
“The bars, at cais (the docks) is another option,” adds Gomes. “It’s full of people on the weekend and has a great atmosphere.”
Cais de Sta Luzia is the main point of departure for boats and ferries that tour the surrounding islands, including Ilha Grande. On the docks of the port are several bars and restaurants which attract a large crowd at nights and especially during weekends and holidays.
Patricia Olimpio Manager of Angra’s Hotel do Bosque told The Rio Times, “The most requested activity is the daily boat trips throughout the many islands that make up the municipality of Angra.”
Often chartering a boat for the day is as easy as hailing a taxi. Boat owners can usually be found on their boat or the dock. Ferries to Ilha Grande, however, have scheduled departure times and many larger schooners are usually booked by groups ahead of time.
Cais de Sta Luzia with its location in the downtown area is also accessible on the Estrada Contorno walk. The city’s center is full of older houses and cobblestones streets alongside modified modern buildings on paved roads. Several historic churches are spread throughout the area, as are more restaurants and businesses.
On a rainy day, visitors often head to Pirata’s Mall located five minutes (by car) from downtown. “Piratas Shopping (mall) has a little bit of everything, Zona Sul, Sushi, fast food and movies. It’s a marina too so the views are great,” said Gomes.
The municipality of Angra dos Reis also has a growing shipyard poised to support the offshore oil industry as well as Brazil’s only nuclear plant, but that does not spoil the beauty of the area as a whole. While travelers short on time may choose to pass through quickly, adventurers with more days to spend exploring should to get to know this oasis full of islands and beaches.