Ilha Grande is a famous spot around Rio de Janeiro, as much for foreign tourists as for Brazilians who like to come here to relax and party.
What an exciting place to discover during our excursion!
Conceição de Jacareí and Ilha Grande
There are organized day tours from Rio that take you to Angra Dos Reis, the usual place to board for Ilha Grande. On the other hand, it takes six hours by bus to make the round trip.
As we didn’t want to spend so much time on the road during the day, we opted to rent a car for an overnight stay.
We chose to book a room at Conceição de Jacareí; a tiny village with a beautiful beach lined with terraces, closer to Rio, and an alternative to Angra Dos Reis. This allowed us to finally enjoy an afternoon on a mostly deserted beach, away from the chaos of Copacabana.
When we arrived in Conceição de Jacareí, we still hadn’t decided on our program for the next day.
Our two options were to either buy a round-trip ticket to Ilha Grande and hike the island — tickets are on sale at the port and include a guarded parking spot — or take a boat ride to the Paradise Islands with a return via Ilha Grande.
We booked the second directly from our hotel. The company that organizes this outing also has an agency in Conceição de Jacareí.
Details of our trip to the Paradise Islands
A little trip from island to island to discover wild beaches.
- Departure 9:40 a.m. – Return around 5:00 p.m.
- Boarding at the Marina Porto Real Cataguases next to Conceição de Jacareí, then heading to the Paradise Islands.
- Stops at the Botinas, Dentiste, Piedade, Lagao Azul islands, and Japariz village on Ilha Grande for a lunch break in a small and very lively beach restaurant.
A bit more about Ilha Grande
Angra Dos Reis, the Cove of the Kings, is an archipelago of 365 islands, the largest of which, Ilha Grande, has an area of 193 km2. One thousand nine hundred people live in Vila do Abraão, its main village. It is where the boats from the coast dock, and it is also here that most hikes start.
Indeed, the island has more than 150 km of trails that connect the hamlets, the most popular being a two-hour walk to Lopes Mendes beach.
The highest point of Ilha Grande is the Pico da Pedra D’Agua which rises to 1,031 m above sea level and can be reached by taking one of the marked paths.
The island is distinguished by its scenic beauty, unspoiled beaches, lush vegetation, and rugged landscape. It is one of the most intact remnants of Brazil’s Atlantic Rainforest, maintaining its status as one of the richest ecosystems in the world.
Small-scale ecotourism is encouraged on the island, which has remained wild. As a consequence, motorized vehicles are prohibited.
It is thus possible to sleep there in peace, next to a heavenly beach, lulled by the waves.
But before that, the island was closed to the public for more than a century. It served then as a leper colony and a high-security prison until 1994.
Our day trip
The weather forecasts were rather pessimistic but we were lucky enough to wake up to a sunny day.
Our group of five people embarked on a small boat — compared to the huge ones we saw and which could contain, I think, more than 50 passengers.
We left for the Paradise Islands for a crossing that lasted about an hour.
The sun was already high in the sky, and we let ourselves be carried away by the movements of the ocean.
Well, almost… As we had to keep the timing, some crossings were a bit hectic. The speed caused our small boat to bounce violently on the waves. It was a little rough, and I admit that I would have preferred a smoother ride.
That said, the sea was beautiful and the scenery magnificent.
We stopped at several beaches, swam and sat on the fine sand to enjoy the surrounding beauty, before leaving for the next stopover.
This is how our day passed, as calm as a hot summer day.
Our day in pictures
And because I couldn’t let you go without giving you a taste of the atmosphere, a little video.
We realized, during our explorations, that “wild beaches” were to be taken with a grain of salt — you should not expect quiet and deserted places.
Even though some of them are only accessible by boat, there are too many people and too much noise for our liking.
Brazilians love to listen to music, laugh, drink, and sing loudly!
I wondered if, given the chance, I would not have liked to be part of their party!
We had brought our masks and snorkels, which allowed us to appreciate the marine world. If you have any, consider taking them with you. Otherwise, no need to invest; it was nice but not a must-do.
A beautiful day to let yourself be transported to the sound of party music with the sole concern of taking full advantage of the white sand beaches, swimming in turquoise waters, and admiring the dream landscapes surrounding us.
Nothing else to add except “Go ahead!”