Island paradise: Ilha Grande, Brazil

From the moment my ferry arrived at Ilha Grande, I understood why people leave their lives, sell their house, give away their shoe collection, and move to a tropical island. It is simply paradise here – where the simplest moments are perfect.  2019-04-13 13.21.30-2.jpgIlha Grande is a 2.5 hour drive from Rio but could not be more different from the thrumming city. This quiet car-free island has powder-soft sand on the extensive beaches, rugged hills, and thick, lush forest. DSC_3861.jpg2019-04-13 16.08.11 HDR-1.jpg2019-04-13 15.21.32.jpgThe biggest town on the island is Vila do Abraão, which seems to be where the most hotels/hostels are located and is where there is the most infrastructure. Apparently this little town (which has 3,000 inhabitants) grew once a leper hospital was built in the late 1800. Historically, the island also was a place to conduct health screenings for immigrants to Brazil, a military base, and a prison. Now, it seems to have a thriving tourism industry where you can enjoy a quiet and idyllic break. 2019-04-15 16.00.00.jpgDSC_3853.jpg2019-04-14 15.59.10.jpgWhile parts of the island are very touristy (lovely restaurants that set up on the beach, for example), there are many places which have a more “local” feel. 2019-04-13 16.14.30From the ferry port, you can hop on a boat and tour some of the equally picturesque islands nearby, with even more beaches, wonderfully clear water for swimming and snorkling, and trees perfectly curved for good instagram photos. 2019-04-14 15.06.16.jpgG0020128.jpg2019-04-14 12.05.372019-04-14 14.12.07-1.jpgIlhe Grande does happen to be a bit rainy, but even on a grey day, these quiet island moments are rather perfect. DSC_3855.jpg

Travel tips! 

  • There are no ATMs on the island when I was there (!) and a number of restaurants and shops do not accept cards so be sure to bring a stack of cash.
  • It is super easy to get there from Paraty or Rio. As mentioned in an earlier post, I booked all my travel through Green Toad bus, and it was a short trip to either destination.
  • My hostel was mediocre at best (so I won’t shout it out), but I did find that it was challenging to find accommodations, even though I wasn’t travelling in high season. Booking in advance definitely required.
  • Spend as much time as possible with your toes in the sand. It is the best way to live life.

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