Ilha Grande, Brazil: Ultimate Planning Guide to a Paradise Found

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Ilha Grande is one of Brazil’s most popular island getaways because it is easily one of the most spectacular and pristine destinations in the country. 

Referenced as the Gili T of South America, it is beach lovers, scuba divers tropical island paradise. This car-free island is where people come from all around the world to enjoy all that the island offers. 

This tropical island is located within easy reach of Rio de Janeiro, making it all the more convenient a place to escape the city and to live the laid back island lifestyle.

Ilha Grande literally means Big Island, but you won’t find it to be too large and you can easily enjoy all the sights within a few days.

You can quite as easily spend weeks here too, simply relaxing on the beaches and enjoying the nature. It’s a beautiful place to discover, so to help you to plan your trip, here’s our guide to Ilha Grande Brazil. 

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Brazil (Travel Guide)

Ultimate Ilha Grande Planning Guide

A Brief History of Ilha Grande Brazil

Ilha Grande Brazil Guide

Ilha Grande Brazil has managed to avoid any major development, ensuring that the island is a truly pristine paradise.

Despite its proximity to Brazil’s two most important cities, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, the island has just one major town and less than 5,000 people live here permanently.

This lack of development is mainly down to the fact that Ilha Grande was first used as a Leper Colony, making certain that people stayed away. After the Leper Colony was removed, the island became the site of a maximum-security prison until as recently as 1994.

Once this prison was closed down, the island has slowly become an increasingly popular tourist destination.

Local knowledge is power and our 15 day trip around Brazil with G Adventures was powered by a local guide. 

Things to do in Ilha Grande Brazil

Ilha Grande Brazil has a great range of activities to enjoy, with the biggest draw, of course, being the spectacular nature that’s found here.  You can hike, snorkel, swim and more.

Here are our favorite things to do in Ilha Grande Brazil.

1. Hiking

Ilha Grande Brazil Map

Ilha Grande Brazil is both a tropical paradise and a hiker’s paradise. The island is home to an extensive network of walking trails that cross through much of the best scenery, along the coast and up to the mountain peaks.

The island has almost no roads and there are no buses. This makes hiking one of the best ways to get around Ilha Grande.

You can literally hike around the island on marked trails. There are 16 different hiking routes that are marked as T1 to T16.

Note: Try to stay on the path, take what you bring back with you and if you see some trash, pick it up.

All the hiking paths on Ilha Grande are interconnected, so you can easily do them as a separate hike or combine them for a longer full-day or multi-day hike. Below we will highlight the best hikes on Ilha Grande.

Hiking trails on the Eastern side of IIha Grande:

  • Circuito Abraao (T-1) – 2km
  • Abraao – Saco de Ceu (T-2) – 6km
  • Saco do Ceu – Freguesia do Santana (T-3) – 4km
  • Pouso – Lopes Mendes (T-11) – 2.5km
  • Pouse – Farol dos Castelhanos (T-12) 12km
  • Abraao – Pico do Papagaio (T-13) 18km
  • Abraao – Dois Reis (T-14) 7km
  • Dois Reis – Cazadaco (T-15) 8.6km
  • Dois Reis – Pamaioca (T-16) 7.8km

Hiking trails on the Western side of IIha Grande:

  • Freguesia do Santana – Bananal (T-4) – 4km
  • Bananal – Sitio Forte (T-5) – 5km
  • Sitio Forte – Aracaliba (T-6) – 6.2km
  • Aracatiba – Gruta de Acala (T-7) – 11km
  • Aracatiba – Proveta (T-8) – 4.7km
  • Proveta – Aventureiro (T-9) – 3.7km

Long-distance hikes:

  • IIha Grande Circuit – 70km
  • Abbraao – Aventureiro – 44km
  • Abraao – Pamaioca – 23.4km
Ilha Grande Brazil Guide
Pico do Papagaio at sunrise

** Top Hike ** Hiking to Pico do Papagaio – 7 miles (11km) – Hard

Hiking to the top of Pico do Papagaio is one of the toughest yet most rewarding hikes on Ilha Grande. The trail takes you to the summit of one of the highest peaks on the island but it’s a steep and at times a seemingly vertical ascent.

You need to be in good shape for this one, as you’ll gain almost 1000 meters in height and you may want to consider taking a guide if you want to focus purely on the hiking and not on navigating.

During the summer months, conditions can be brutally hot and sweaty, so make sure you start your treks early and take plenty of water. Also, bring your bug spray to avoid getting bitten by insects.

The views from the summit of Pico do Papagaio are the best on the island, offering unparalleled panoramas in all directions across Ilha Grande and further afield to the mainland in the distance.

** 2nd Best Hike ** Lopes Mendes T-10 – 3 Hours Hiking Or 15 Minute Boat Ride – Easy

The Lopes Mendes (marked as T-10) is one of the less challenging hiking trails on Ilha Grande that takes 3 hours to hike or you can get a boat from the main city center that will take 10-15 minutes.

Some people boat there and hike back or vice versa. This hike takes you to one of the best beaches in all of Brazil called Praia Lopes Mendes.

There is no need for a guide while hiking the Lopes Mendes trail on Ilha Grande, it starts out walking along the beach where you will have to cross a little stream so be pair pared to take your off to cross.

After that the hiking path takes you through the forest passing other amazing beaches like Praia das Palmas and Praia dos Mangues ending at the white sand beach of Lopes Mendes.

Ilha Grande Brazil Guide
Pico do Papagaio with our G Adventures group

Top 5 Short Distance Hikes:

  • Circuito Abraao (T-1) 2km and takes 40 minutes to 1 hour – Easy;  Top Highlights: Praia Prata (beach), two amazing viewpoints, ruins of Lazaretto, aqueduct and Feiticeira waterfall.
  • Abraao – Saco do Ceu (T-2) – 6km one way and takes 2 to 3 hours – Easy; Top Highlights: Aqueduct, Feiticeira waterfall, small beaches, and Saco do Ceu Beach.
  • Saco do Ceu – Freguesia de Santana (T-3) – 4km one way and takes 1.5 to 2 hours – Easy; Top Highlights: Many small beaches, Jungle-forest and Japariz village.
  • Freguesia de Santana – Bananal (T-4) 3km one way and takes 1 to 1.5 hours – Easy; Top Highlights: Lagoa Azul (Blue Lagoon), many small beaches and Bananal viewpoint.
  • Bananal – Sitio Forte (T-5) 5km one way and takes 1.5 to 2 hours – Easy to Moderate; Top Highlights: Tourist free empty beaches, Jungle-forest and lots of wildlife.   

Top 5 Long Distance Hikes:

  • IIha Grande Circuit – 70km and takes 5 to 7 days – Moderate to Difficult; Top Highlights: Hidden beaches, Little to no tourist, Jungles, waterfalls, and Nature.
  • Abraao – Aventureiro – 44km and takes 2 to 3 days – Moderate; Top Highlights: Feiticeira, Japariz, Saco do Ceu – Freguesia de Santana, Bananal, Matariz, Sitio Forte, Lagoa Verde, Proveta, beaches, little to no tourists, jungles, waterfalls, and nature.
  • Abraao-Pamaloca – 23.4km and takes 7 to 8 hours – Easy; Top Highlights: Beaches, jungles, waterfalls, and nature.
  • Pouso- Farol dos Castelhanos (T-12) 24km and takes 7 to 8 hours – Hard; Top Highlights: Beaches, jungles, waterfalls, and Castelhanos lighthouse.
  • Abbraao – Papagaio (T-12) – 12km and takes 3 to 4 hours – Easy; Top Highlights: Large and small beaches, waterfalls, jungles, and nature.

Our Top Recommended Tours for Hiking:

2. Lopes Mendes Beach

Lopes Mendes Beach on Ilha Grande

Lopes Mendes is one of the best beaches on Ilha Grande Brazil, if not in the entirety of the country. The beach has 3 kilometers of pure white sand and spectacular water with epic views along the coast to match.

To get here, you need to catch a water taxi from Abraao, which drops you at the nearest village along the coast. From the village, it is a 20-minute walk through the jungle to reach the beach itself, but it’s well worth the effort.

Avid hikers can even walk all the way from Abraao to Lopes Mendes on the T 10 trail, following a long that hugs the coast. Hiking the trail takes at least 3 hours one way. 

It is best to take food and water because there are no restaurants. Make sure you take back with you what you bring leaving this beach as amazing as you found it. Near the far left side of the beach, there is an ancient chapel, known as the Chaple of St. Benedict. 

Great for: Sun lounging, surfing, swimming. Price: Free admission – Most people stay: 2 hours – Camping is allowed (leave the site how you found it.) 

Our top recommended tours of Lopes Mendes:

3. Snorkeling and Diving

Snorkeling in Ilha Grande
Snorkeling from the beach

Snorkeling and diving are two of the most popular activities to undertake in Ilha Grande Brazil. The crystal clear water offers excellent visibility, while the ocean is teeming with marine life.

You can snorkel almost anywhere, so when you are hiking around the island be sure to take a mask and snorkel with you, in case you want to jump in.

Be careful though, as in some areas there can be strong currents, so be sure to heed the warning signs and snorkel in the designated areas where they are marked out. 

It is best to bring your own snorkeling gear, we love our Cressi snorkel set. However, if you do not have your own snorkeling gear you can rent some right from the little Kiosk on the beachside road across from the Havana sandal store. This is where most of the tours get their snorkeling gear. 

Ilha Grande Bay in Brazil is home to the largest concentration of shipwrecks in the world. Sixteen ships are being investigated by authorities and 6 have been discovered and are open for the public to scuba dive.

The top wrecks scuba divers should visit in Ilha Grande:

  • Vapor Japura at de Parnaioca Beach – 1860
  • Vapor California at Vermelha Beach – 1888
  • Encouracado Aquidaba at Jacuacanga Bay – 1906
  • Pinguino at Sitio Forte Cove – 1966

Castelhanos Bay is known to be one of the best snorkeling and scuba diving spots in Ilha Grenda along with Jorge Grego´s Island, and dos Meros Island.

Laja do Guriri, located in Castelhanos Bay, is a cave with many entrances that at the right time of the day-light up with sunbeams gleaming through the cracks.

Our top recommended tours for Snorkeling and Diving:

4. Speed Boat Tour Around the Island

Speed Boat Tour - Ilha Grande

This was our favorite day trip while we were in Ilha Grande. If you’re a beach lover or like to explore lesser-visited places than this is the tour for you.

The day we went on this tour we had perfectly placid seas. This meant that we were able to access beaches on the ocean side of the island, a sometimes rare occurrence.

Our speedboat was large, clean and expertly handled as we explored 5 different beaches around the island. Each one offering a different perspective of the beauty that this island offers. 

We had time to beach walk, snorkel, interact with locals, relax and take short hikes. The tour isn’t cheap, coming in at $130BR per person, but well worth the day we spent on the water exploring the island. 

5. Kayaking

There are some great kayaking opportunities to be had in Ilha Grande and you can easily rent sea kayaks in the main town, Abraao, to take out on the water. 

One of the more popular routes, is from Abraao, along with the coast towards nearby Abraaozinho, where you can find some beautiful bays and beaches.

Kayaking trips are also available for sunrise and sunset. They last around 3-4 hours depending on your paddling trip. 

For the adventurous, you can paddle around the island that takes 4 days, with at least 4 hours of paddling per day.

We recommend hiring a guide for this adventure. Take your snorkel along, or simply park up on the beach and sit back to enjoy the scenery.

6. Feticeira Waterfall and Beach

Waterfall in Brazil

Nature lovers will enjoy visiting Feticeira Waterfall, which is found close to Feticeira Beach.

Hidden in the jungle, there is a great hiking path leading straight from Abraao to the waterfall and after a sweaty walk through the humid forest, you can jump into the freezing cold water.

To get to the Cachoeira de Feiticeira waterfall you must take the T-1 and T-2 trail that’s medium difficulty. The trail is full of ups and downs and winds through the jungle. It takes around 1 ½ hour to reach the waterfall.

From the waterfall, you can hike through another stretch of jungle to reach the equally pristine Feticeira Beach, where you can swim, snorkel and relax on the sands.

Make sure you bring plenty of water and use comfortable clothing to hike in.

7. Parnaioca

Parnaioca Beach in Ilha Grande

Parnaioca is a beach on the southern side of Ilha Grande and it’s absolutely spectacular. It’s a lot more remote on this side of the island, which makes for even more pristine scenery.

The best way to reach the beach is by boat from Abraao, which will also give you a chance to circumnavigate much of the island on your way around.

You can hike across the island too from Abraao, but it’s a long slog through the forest if you take the most direct route through the middle.

The best beaches on Ilha Grande

  • Lopes Mendes Beach ** Top Pick **
  • Palmas Cove
  • Paranaioca Beach
  • Santo Antonio Beach
  • Dois Rios Beach
  • Сaxadaço Beach
  • Aventureiro Beach

8. The Abandoned Prison

Before tourism arrived on Ilha Grande, it was home to one of the country’s most notorious prisons. The Candido Mendes prison was a maximum-security prison, established here on the what was once the Leper Colony.

Over a century of use, the prison was used to hold petty criminals, revolutionaries, activists, and political prisoners and eventually gang members too.

In 1994, the prison was shut down and the prisoners relocated.

The ruins can still be found on Ilha Grande Brazil and you can explore the crumbling remains that are slowly being overtaken again by the jungle.

It’s an intriguing look at the tortured past of what on the outside, seems like an idyllic tropical paradise.

Ilha Grand Planning Tips

Booking Your Adventures on the Island

Main town in Ilha Grande Brazil

There are tons of tour shops located on the island that offer the same tours, at the same price, through the same operators. Do don’t waste your island time shopping around. Just head to one and book everything.

If your heart is set on doing something it is best to book your tours in advance. This will guarantee that you will be able to do what you want, on the days you are there.

We recommend booking with a reliable company like Viator or just simply book your whole trip with someone like G Adventures so you do not have to worry. 

One of the magical things about exploring Brazil with G Adventures was that we did not have to worry about booking things in advance and that everyone on the trip could have a different adventure while being on the same trip.

Our experienced CEO (Chief Experience Officer) would bring us to the local tour shop in every city and we could decide what adventures we wanted to do.

Wildlife on Ilha Grande

Blue and Green Macaw in Brazil

Ilha Grande is a tropical paradise where nature rules the land. Naturally, it is home to thousands of species of wild animals from amazing birds to sea creatures. You do not have to go far to find them.

Just hiking one of the many trails will give you the opportunity to see lizards crawling across the path and howler monkeys startling you from the treetops.

If you are lucky, you may even see the Magellanic penguin waddling across one of the many white-sand beaches. That’s what so magical about this untouched paradise.

Note: If you encounter wildlife, respect their space. Do not chase them. Do not feed them. Do not try to pick them up. Try to practice responsible wildlife viewing so they will last in the area for future generations. 

Ilha Grande is one of the most pristine remnants of Brazil’s Atlantic rainforest, making it one of the richest ecosystems in the world. So, what animals can you see on Ilha Grande?

On land, you can find Gray Slender Opossum, Oxyrhopus Guibbei, Tropidurus Torquatus, Ecpleopus Gaudichaudii, Jararacussu, Brown Howler Monkeys, Diddphis Marsupial, Common Marmoset, Nine-Banded Armadillo, and the Argentine Black and White Tegu.

In the sea, you can find Manatee, Haemulidae, Selene Vomer, Slender Seahorse, Puffer Fish, Sea Turtle, Humpback Whale, Moray eel, Guiana Dolphin and the Trachinotus Goodie.

In the sky, you can find Platalea Ajaja, Nyctibius Griseus, Falco Femoralis, Coragyps Atticus, Caracara Plancus, Amazona Rrhodocorytha, Amazilia Versicolor, Accipiter Bicolor, Theristicus Caudatus and the Tinamus Solitarius.

You wouldn’t believe the amount of wildlife we spotted in the Pantanal with G Adventures. Check out the Wonders of Brazil tour today.  

Best Time of Year to Visit Ilha Grande

Parnaioca Beach Brazil

Ilha Grande is a true tropical paradise, and you’ll find temperatures to be warm, if not hot all through the year. Summer months offer the highest temperatures, between November and March, but this is also when it’s most likely to rain.

Weather conditions are surprisingly temperate, however, and even in the rainier months of the year, you won’t see too much rain.

Winter months can be a great time to visit if you want to escape the heat and humidity, and it tends to be much quieter this time of the year too.

How to Travel to Ilha Grande Brazil

Ilha Grande Brazil Guide

Ilha Grande Brazil is found along the coast to the south-east of Rio de Janeiro.

The easiest way to travel here is from Rio, where you can fly in internationally or domestically before transferring to a bus or shuttle to take you to one of the ports to catch a ferry.

By Private Transfer: We used Paraty Tours, they offer private transfers from Rio de Janeiro to Conceicao de Jacarei with set times for a minimum of two people at 8:30 A.M, 12:30 P.M and 5 P.M. They also offer airport pickups anytime between 8:30 AM and 5 PM. Travel time is about 2.5 hours with a stop for snacks. The van was nice with lots of room. Rates per person are R$125. If you have three people or more you can set your own pickup time. This is who our G Adventures trip used throughout Brazil and we did not have to worry about a thing. 

Book your Shared Shuttle to Ilha Grande with the Fast Speed Boat from Rio de Janeiro today.

By Bus: From Rio de Janeiro – Costa Verde is a great option if you are looking for a bus transfer.  They offer approximately hourly departures to Mangaratiba, Conceição de Jacareí, and Angra dos Reis (it’s the same bus) from Rio’s main bus station (Novo Rio) starting at 4 A.M. and ending at 9 P.M. Cost is R$31. The trip takes to Angra takes about 2 1/2 hours, to Mangaratiba and Conceição de Jacareí a little less.

Another great bus option is Paulista. They offer four departures per day to Angra from the Tietê station, at 8 A.M, 12:15 P.M, 4 P.M, and 10 P.M. The trip takes 7 hours and costs R$57.

There are three main ports on the coast that have ferries and fast boats over to Ilha Grande Brazil. In order of proximity to Rio de Janeiro, you have the towns of Mangaratiba, Conceicao de Jacarei, and Angra dos Reis.  The middle port, Conceicao de Jacarei offers the shortest crossing to Ilha Grande Brazil, and also has the most frequent departures.

Conceicao de Jacarei Farry Info: Saveiro Andre makes four trips daily between Conceicao de Jacarei and Abraao (Ilha Grande). From Conceicao de Jacarei, the boat departs at 9 A.M, 11:30 A.M, 3 P.M, and 6:15 P.M, with two extra sailings on Fridays at 6:45 P.M and 9 P.M. From Abraao, the ship departs at 7:30 A.M, 10 A.M, 1 A.M, and 5 P.M. Cost is R$15 each way, travel time around 50 minutes.

Mangaratiba Ferry Info: Barcaus S.A ferry departs from Mangaratiba at 8 A.M. daily (with one extra 10 P.M sailing on Friday). The return ferry to Mangaratiba departs at 5:30 P.M daily. Cost is R$14 one-way, R$25 return, and the trip takes about 80 minutes.

Angara dos Reis Ferry Info: ** This is the one we used ** The Catamaran IGT departs Angra dos Ries for the Island of Ilha Grande daily at 8 A.M, 10:45 A.M, and 4 P.M. and departs Vila do Abraao from Angra at 9 A.M, 12:30 P.M, and 5 P.M. Cost is R$25 and takes around 45 minutes

Saveiro Resta departs Angara dos Reis for Abraao at 8 A.M. weekdays, 7:30 A.M, 11 A. M, and 4 P.M weekends.  From Abraao to Angara dos Reis the boat departs at 5 P.M weekdays, 9:30 A.M, 1 P.M, and 5 P.M weekends. Cost is R$10 to R$15 depending on the departure time and the trip can take around 90 minutes. 

Saveiro Samurai departs for Abraao daily at 10 A.M and  5 P.M. daily. Cost is R$10 – R$15 depending on the departure time and can take up to 90 minutes. 

Barcaus S.A has one departure a day at 3:30 P.M on weekdays, and 1:30 P.M. on weekends. The return trip from Ilha Grande to Angra departs at 10 A.M. Cost is R$14 one-way, R$25 return, and the trip takes about 80 minutes.

Note: This is South America, ferry departure times, locations and fares are subject to change at any time. Always call to confirm (or ask your pousada for the latest information). We did not have to worry about this since it was included in our G Adventures tour of Brazil. On the way back to Angara dos Reis we had our own private boat.

Ferries arrive at Vila do Abraao, the main town on Ilha Grande Brazil, and the best place to base yourself to explore the rest of the island.

Getting around Ilha Grande is best done by boat tour or boat taxi, as there are few roads on the island and even fewer vehicles. Many of the small boats will take you to isolate beaches or will take visitors on day trips. Prices are normally around R$50 per person with a minimum of four people. 

Note: When you get Ilha Grande you can have your bags brought to your accommodation for around $5.00 USD. The luggage cars will be waiting for you as you step off the ferry. This will save you from rolling your bag through the sandy streets. 

Book your own epic trip: Wonders of Brazil Tour with G Adventures.  

Where to Stay on Ilha Grande

Ilha Grande Brazil Guide

Ilha Grande is filled with many great choices of accommodation, many fitting this beach lover island theme. We could list out an endless amount of places to stay in Ilha Grande but what good would that do.

We want you to pick a place that we would be comfortable to stay in.  We stayed at the Pousada Bugio while exploring Ilha Grande with G Adventures but the other two are hotels that jumped out to us as great options. 

Note: It is best to book your accommodation in advance, do not wait till the last minute many of the hotels and hostels only have a few rooms. 

Flor Da Ilha ***** Customer review rating. Flor Da Ilha is one of the top hostels on Ilha Grande. They are located right on the beach on the main street in Ilha Grande. Flor Da Ilha has many great amenities including a terrace, 23 comfortable rooms that are ideal for travelers on a budget. Located next to all of the popular attractions and tour companies.

Pousada Bugio ***** Customer review rating. This is where we stayed on our G Adventures trip and that says a lot. It’s a wonderful midrange – budget hotel. Bugio Pousada offers the best value room for the money on Ilha Grande. With comfortable beds, AC, TV, private bathroom with hot water showers and an energy generator that supplies the whole hotel. Enjoy a full buffet breakfast in the garden or enjoy a cold drink served at the in-house bar. Bugio Pousada is located just off the main street in Ilha Grande and is located next to many great restaurants. We loved that they offered a water bottle refilling station sponsored by G Adventures to help cut down on plastic on the island. We would 100% stay here again. 

Only Nature Inn (Pousada so Natureza) ***** Customer review rating. The Pousada so Natureza offers a little more luxury stay than the other two hotels with their large swimming pool nestled in their private garden. If you are looking for a place to unwind after a long day exploring Ilha Grande the Pousada so Natureza is the place for you.

Read reviews and check prices with our Hotel Search Engine, that gives you the best hotel deals found on the web. Our search engine pulls results from all of the major booking places, including Expedia, Hotels, Booking and more. All the options, all the deals, all in one place and just for you.

How Safe is Ilha Grande?

Ilha Grande Brazil Guide

Ilha Grande quickly became one of our favorite places in Brazil due to its laid back island vibe. There’s no hustle and bustle, no cars, just island lovers looking to enjoy this tropical paradise.

In terms of crime, it is extremely safe and probably one of the safest places we visited in Brazil on our G Adventures tour

It’s safe to roam around the island at all times of the day and night, some streets are not lit but do not let this discourage you. It’s a small island, locals know each other.

Most crimes are petty, like stealing things from a hotel room or stealing something from the beach. Many of the times most crimes are committed by tourists, not locals.

If you are a solo traveler just be smart, you’ll be fine hiking and exploring the beaches by yourself. You’re more likely to run into trouble with other tourists at the local bar – night club.

Some tourists do get into trouble by swimming in places they should not be swimming. This has lead to a few drownings. So always check with the locals if it is ok to go swimming there.

Shopping on Ilha Grande

Ilha Grande Brazil Guide
Main street on Ilha Grande

Ilha Grande offers a great chance to buy some authentic Brazilan souvenirs that we did not see anywhere else on our trip around Brazil.

There’s anything from amazing wood carvings, t-shirts, magnets and let’s not forget those world-famous Havaiana sandals.

So bring cash or credit cards because there’s a half days worth of souvenir shopping waiting for you to browse through.

Tip: Prices were what they were, there was little haggling only at the small souvenir shops but the marked price was what it was on the island.

Responsible Travel Tips For Visiting Ilha Grande

Ilha Grande Brazil Guide

Ilha Grande is one of Brazil’s best kept tropical paradises, so let’s keep it that way. As travelers, we need to think about the effects we have when we visit the island.

If we do not do our part, Ilha Grande will become another one of those islands that are loved to death by the tourists who visit. We encourage all travelers to make sustainable choices when traveling.

Below are simple responsible travel tips you should live by when visiting Ilha Grande:

  • Skip the plastic straw when having a drink or sipping a coconut on the beach.
  • Refill a water bottle instead of buying water in plastic bottles. If you have to buy water, buy a larger jug and refill a water bottle.
  • Do not use those plastic shampoo packages in the hotels.
  • Do not leave your large shampoo bottles, sunscreen and other trash in the hotels. Take it with you back to the mainland. The island cannot keep supporting large amounts to tourist trash.
  • Turn off the lights and the AC in your hotel room if you are not in it.
  • You do not need a new towel every day, reuse your towels to conserve water.
  • Conserve water when brushing your teeth or taking a shower.
  • If you are going to buy souvenirs, buy locally made products that help support a local artisan.
  • Avoid souvenirs that are made from animal products.
  • Do not scare the wildlife.
  • Do not chase the wildlife for a better Instagram photo.
  • Do not feed the wildlife.
  • Stay on the hiking trails.
  • Pick up trash as you encounter it on the trail, the beach and wherever.
  • Take back everything you bring with you.
  • Be respectful to the people who live there, don’t go walking through their yards or homes for that photo, they are not zoo animals.
  • Do not interrupt a school as it is going on.
  • Do not take photos of kids.
  • Do not give money or gifts to kids.
  • Ask before you take a photo of a local, do not just snap away.
  • Book tours with locals, not tourists who are staying there for a few months squatting and working for an international company. Keep the money local.

Don’t just see the world, make it better. Learn more about responsible-travel by G Adventures

Quick Ilha Grande Travel Facts

Church - Ilha Grande Brazil
  • Money: Brazilian Real (Some places will take USD)
  • What language is spoken? Portuguese, English was limited. 
  • Is the water safe to drink? No, it is best to buy water there. At our hotel, we had a water bottle refill station where we could refill our water bottles with filtered water instead of adding to the island’s plastic issues. This was supplied by G Adventures.
  • Grocery stores on Ilha Grande: They have everything you could ever want. Be prepared to pay island prices but you can get fresh fruit, meat, snacks, and beer.
  • Is Ilha Grande safe? Yes
  • Is there an ATM on Ilha Grande: No (They tried an ATM a few years ago and they have taken them out due to the insurance cost to bring massive amounts of money across from the mainland. (Take cash with you)
  • Is there a bank on the island: No
  • Can you use credit cards on the Island? Yes, almost all places on Ilha Grande take credit cards.
  • Does the island have cars? No, the island is car-free.
  • Are the bugs bad? Yes, take your mosquito repellent.
  • Can you camp on Ilha Grande: Yes there are campsites and there are heavy fines for those who just camp on the beaches.
  • Wifi – Internet on Ilha Grande: Yes there is internet in most hotels and restaurants. It is slow though.
  • Cellphone reception on Ilha Grande: Yes, service is spotty depending on your location around the island.
  • How far from Rio is Ilha Grande: 150 kilometers (93.2 miles) 3 ½ to 4 hours from Rio de Janeiro.
  • Can you take a day trip to Ilha Grande? Yes, you can but it is best to spend at least one night to enjoy its full beauty. You can book a day trip to Ilha Grande with Viator. 
  • Are you allowed to fly drones on Ilha Grande: Yes, drone use is allowed but you must follow Brazil’s drone rules and restrictions.
  • How many days do people normally stay on Ilha Grande: 2 to 3 days
  • Does Ilha Grande have a Hospital? Yes, there is a small hospital on the island, if you have something serious you can call a medical speed boat that will arrive in 15 minutes that will take you to the mainland.
  • Dose Ilha Grande have a Pharmacy: Yes, the best pharmacy is Drogatur Drugs that can be found on the main beach strip just across from the ferry dock.
  • Is there a camera shop on Ilha Grande: You will only find shops selling GoPro’s and SD cards.
  • What tour is the best tour of Brazil that offers Ilha Grande? The Wonders of Brazil Tour with G Adventures 

Our Brazil Trip 

We explored Brazil with G Adventures on their 15 day Wonders of Brazil Tour. The tour did not just scratch the surface of Brazil but it went deep into a side of Brazil that many travelers do not get to see.

I can positively tell you I would not have had the amazing experience I had with anyone on any other tour in Brazil.

Our trip started in Rio De Janeiro then went to Ilha Grande, Party, Foz do Iguacu, Bonito, the Pantanal ending back in Rio De Janeiro.

Our CEO guide went above and beyond our expectations, he opened up windows into his country that as experienced travelers we did not expect to experience.  

The Wonders of Brazil Tours is one of the best tours offered in Brazil powered by a 100% ripple score. G Adventures Ripple Score is an honest evaluation of how often they use local businesses and services on each tour.

We experienced this first-hand in Brazil by using locally owned hotels, locally owned tours and eating at locally owned restaurants where the money we spent stayed in the communities we visited.

Not only helping them for today but for future generations. 

We experienced magical moments throughout all of Brazil on this small group trip. We all were strangers at the beginning of this adventure ranging from the age of 23 to 64.

Some haven’t traveled very much and others have traveled a lot. Some wanted pure adventure and others just wanted to sit back and relax. There was a good mix of thing to do for everyone. 

Check out the Wonders of Brazil Tour today by G Adventures. 

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Onward Travel From Ilha Grande

Where can you go after you have enjoyed the amazing beaches of Ilha Grande? We suggest checking out the city of Paraty, Brazil. This was the next stop on our G Adventure tour of the wonders of Brazil and it did not disappoint.

Step back into time as you walk the cobblestone streets filled with 17th and 18th-century buildings.  

Naturally, the surrounding area just outside Paraty is an eco-adventure paradise. Enjoy a beach hopping trip that will take you to some of the best snorkeling and beaches in the area.

After that head by jeep into Serra da Bocaina National Park and slide down a natural waterslide on a waterfall tour. You’ll also have a chance to enjoy sipping samples of locally made cachaca on a distillery tour.

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 Ilha Grande, Brazil Planning Guide: Paradise Found


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About David Stock

I have always been an outdoorsman so becoming an adventure traveler was just the next natural step. I love nature, I love to get off the beaten path and I like to explore. I enjoy scuba diving and cars. And yes, Lina and I have a naked dog.

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1 thought on “Ilha Grande, Brazil: Ultimate Planning Guide to a Paradise Found”

  1. I love the vibes of Ilha Grande. I’m also a fan of laid back island vibes compared to luxurious island getaways (Although I wouldn’t complain if I had an opportunity.) This is definitely a paradise!


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