An island where first impressions were close to an overpriced version Koh Phi Phi, Thailand (if anyone else has been there, I think you’d agree). Let’s just say that that first impressions were not the same as the last, Ilha Grande really captivated us and knew how to draw us in with it’s beauty.
An island full of hidden gems and secret and secluded places to explore
We only spent 4 nights on this idyllic island and by the end of the trip we definitely could have extended our stay. If it wasn’t for our short time in South America, I’m convinced we would have stayed the week. We had booked ahead with Hostel World and decided to stay at Biergarten – mainly for the affordability. On the island, there are many upmarket hotel/resort type places to stay (some accessed by boat) and very few hostels! The choice was limited. However, Biergarten hostel was friendly enough and we had no issues. Everywhere is local. No matter where you stay, the main part of the island consists of a few roads (yes there are cars! But only police and those using for development).
Trekking Ilha Grande
The main trek on the island is to Lopes Mendes beach from Abraao (main town), trek T10 and T11. At an average slow pace the trek is mapped out to take 0320h, passing another two beaches on route. We managed 0145hr, capturing photos on route so it can be done in a shorter time frame! It is listed as one of Brazil’s most beautiful beaches. The route consists of lots of uphill and downhill terrain.
- If you can’t quite manage the walk back (or even there!) you can get a taxi boat approximately 20 minutes walk at another beach passed on route for R25
- Take your own snacks/drinks, beach outlets are expensive! Two bags of crisps and pack of biscuits R36
- Be aware in the water as waves are big and strong
Another trek we undertook was meant to be a short walk (40-50min) as informed by our hostel worker. But OBVIOUSLY we got carried away with taking photographs and took the wrong turning. Basically turned out to be a 4-5hr roundtrip. Yay! We had committed to a night hike that evening too! Having seen the sign to the waterfall, we were compelled to continue on our trek to investigate. We continued from T1 to T2 trek and with what felt like forever, we found our way to the waterfall.
The waterfall was secluded down a pathway and consisted of two natural pools which you could bath in. What you can’t see in this photo is how cold the water is!
There are numerous treks on the island ranging from T1-T16 and vary in level of activity required. The hikes that we managed to complete in our 4 nights stay were T1, T2, T10, T11, T13 and T14. Unfortunately due to time constraints we weren’t able to complete any of the others.
There are many different restaurants and bars dotted around Abraao and if you search well enough you’ll even scrap a deal for two for R44! I think as we have come during the “quiet” season, the bars were not as lively as normal and the hostels half filled. This made for a very relaxing beach vacation!
As your read earlier, we had committed ourselves to taking part in the sunrise trek up to Pico do Papagaio, otherwise known as Parrot Peak. Reading lots of reviews online about how amazing the views were and the whole experience of a night trek, we just had to do it! Having trekked around most of the day, a quick nap was needed prior to starting the trek.
What it entailed:
- Set off at 2am
- 3hr trek uphill
- Watch the sunrise of Brazil
- 2-3hr trek downhill
Climbing to approximately 980m high, trekking 11km
Trekking at night time was brilliant! It felt so much more easier than in the day as the temperature was a lot cooler. Although half of the trek was uphill because you couldn’t visualise where you were going it made it a hell of a lot easier mentally! The sound of all the different creatures coming alive at night made it even more interesting!
What to bring:
- Hiking shoes/trainers
- A spare top
- Water approx. 2L
- Jacket (for the top as it is cold sitting waiting for the sunrise)
- Camera to capture the view
The Sunrise Pioneers group provided us all with bamboo sticks and headlamps.
100% worth it
Ilha Grande in nutshell is great if you don’t mind hiking to beautiful beaches and spending the day in superb scenery. On the contrary, there are many tour companies offering boat trips around the island stopping off at different locations for a price (R100-150). Or alternatively you could just relax by the pier side and enjoy a nice seafood platter with a cool beer. Be prepared to pay island prices, even at the local supermarket! If your really on a budget stock up before you set sail to the Island.