We made our getaway from Rio and took a bus to the port town of Angra dos Reis, where we took a ferry boat to Brazil’s largest island, Ilha Grande.
Until 1995 Ilha Grande had remained left out of the tourist circuit for various reasons (namely a couple of prisons and a previous leper colony). It’s now booming, as it should be, with its 100+ pristine beaches surrounding the mountaineous jungle interior. And still, aside from the ambulance, firetruck and garbage truck, they’ve managed to keep cars off of the island.
The majority of the island’s resources and activity center in Vila do Abraão, a sleepy backpacker village that gets one big ferry a day from the mainland plus a number of shuttles. We stayed at the adequate but still somewhat lovely Pousada Paloma, one of many many pousadas and hostels that host the backpacker-y and weekend vacation crowd which seems to be primarily from Argentina.
Our first day we took a boat over the Lopes Mendes, named by numerous sources to be Brazil’s nicest beach! After an hour ride around to the Atlantic side of the ocean we were dropped a half-hour jungle hike away from Lopes Mendes. The beach was a joy, with turqoise water with perfectly-sized waves for body surfing and not a single building nearby.
A couple days later we decided to use the extensive and well-marked trail network to hike over to the other side of the island, to the beach Dois Rios. A fellow in our Pousada recommended a couple shortcuts which turned out to be much more interesting trails! At this beach we were only a handful of people in all, this was a great outing. (On a side note, we completed our hike in our huaraches sandals that we fabricated back in Würzburg — though these have proven a little too bare for walking around town, they were perfect for Ilha Grande!)