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Ilha Grande

Ilha Grande, paradise on Earth? That is what one could legitimately think upon arriving there. This paradise island located 150 km west of Rio de Janeiro has it all. No motor vehicles here. To get around, you will have to take the boat or walk! However, Ilha Grande used to look a lot more like hell, owing to a rather grim time when privateers, prisoners and other criminals lived on the island. Ilha Grande is now open, has adapted to tourism and continues inspire awe with its paradise beaches, waterfalls, lagoons, lush nature and superb hiking trails Let’s discover this singular island that leaves a mark in the hearts of those who visit it…​

Brazil, Costa Verde, Ilha Grande boat cove

Geography and climate

A wild and preserved island

When you arrive in Ilha Grande after a two-hour boat trip from Angra dos Reís on the blue-green waters of the Costa Verde, a real piece of paradise unravels before your eyes. Ilha Grande and its long coat of greenery have all the assets to please nature lovers as it is bordered by a hundred golden beaches each more beautiful than the next and has peaks that are up to 1,000 meters high.

The island has two main summits: Pico Pedra d’Agua (1,031m) and Pico do Papagaio (987m) which shape the island’s silhouette with strength and character. Ilha Grande is 29 kilometers long and 11.8 kilometers wide for a total area of 193 square kilometers. It is the largest island in the state of Rio de Janeiro and is a vast playground in the heart of nature tailor-made for hiking enthusiasts.

However, in order to protect this portion of Mata Atlântica and the rare ecosystem it shelters, the entire territory of Ilha Grande is sanctuarized as part of the Ilha Grande National Park. Urban planning is strictly regulated and small-scale eco-tourism structures are favored in this road-free territory.

Climatic conditions to be taken into account

As in Rio de Janeiro, the tropical savanna climate of Ilha Grande allows you to visit it all year round with an average temperature of 23°C. From May to September, the average temperatures vary between 19 and 27°C and the climate is rather dry with occasional showers. It is the ideal season, particularly for hiking and trekking. From October to April, average temperatures are higher (from 21°C to 31°C) and rainfall is more important. It is therefore crucial to anticipate these climatic variations according to your interests and expectations.

A few words about Ilha Grande

Costa Verde, Brazil, cabotage cove crystal clear water

Ilha Grande used to be visited by privateers ready to attack ships sailing to Rio de Janeiro. Then in 1894 it became home to a penal colony for the country’s most important criminals and political prisoners. At that time, the island’s isolated situation and its limited accessibility made it the ideal place to keep public enemies away. It is only after the final shutdown of the Candido Mendês prison in 1994 that the island began to open its doors to visitors.

Within a few years, the island with its rather grim past turned into a haven of peace. It became cherished by tourists who enjoy its lush and omnipresent vegetation. With its hiking trails which go through a mysterious and sumptuous tropical forest, its superb beaches (among the most beautiful in Brazil), its rich and varied fauna and flora, its waterfalls and lagoons which are ideal for swimming, Ilha Grande is undoubtedly very attractive.

Our expert opinion

A destination for nature lovers only

If you like the hustle and bustle of big cities, if you are looking for a destination where it is easy to take transportation to get around, if you prefer wild evenings of celebration to a beautiful sunset in a haven of peace… Keep away from Ilha Grande !

The island is for nature lovers who are not afraid to walk or take the boat to get around, who are curious to discover all that Mother Nature has to offer them, who know how to appreciate moments of calm and tranquility and who wish to alternate between moments of relaxation on the beaches and more sporting activities in a setting as beautiful as it is spectacular.

And why not combine a city holiday with a nature getaway on the same trip? It is perfectly possible to combine Rio de Janeiro and Ilha Grande. The Terra Nordeste advisors will be at your service to design with you the stay that will make your dreams come true.

Why should I visit Ilha Grande ?

As we have just said, Ilha Grande is brimming with attractions that are an invitation to visit it. Here are some of them :
  • For its beaches classified among the most beautiful in Brazil
  • For its amazing biodiversity and the variety of landscapes that the island has to offer
  • For its intriguing, dark but exciting history and the remnants of its past
  • To feel alone in the world only a few hours from the vibrant Rio de Janeiro
  • To enjoy a heavenly environment which is an invitation to explore and relax
Ilha Grande, Brazil snorkeling cove

Some ideas to make your stay in Ilha Grande unforgettable

Before we can create with you the trip that will meet your expectations, find inspiration in our selection of the must-see attractions of Ilha Grande:

  • Go for a hike in the wild and discover the animal and plant species living on the island
  • Go on a relaxing boat excursion
  • Put your laying back skills into practice by relaxing on the superb beach of Lopes Mendes
  • Go snorkeling in transparent waters and admire the beautifully colored fish
  • Watch the gorgeous sunset over the bay

To go further…

Read the description of Ilha Grande that Jean-Paul Delfino gives us in our “Travel diaries” section: terra-nordeste.com/en/ilha-grande-seen-by-jean-paul-delfino/