Ilha Grande

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Ilha Grande, the "big island" is along the southeastern Brazilian coast from Rio de Janeiro, about three hours on a bus followed by two hours on a boat. It is somewhat off the beaten track, perhaps due to its remoteness, but it is a very beautiful tropical island with jungle, beaches, snakes and caiprinhas. The main town, Abraao, has around two thousand inhabitants, and there are no cars on the island.

Ilha Grande was our first stop in Brazil outside of Rio, and we spent two nights in this sun-soaked paradise. There are no roads on the island and very few offroad vehicles, so to get anywhere it's either by boat or on foot. The island is about twenty miles long and ten miles wide, we walked back to Abraao from Lopes Mendes beach, and were lucky to get back before nightfall as it took a lot longer than we'd expected.


The village of Abraao, buried in the Brazilian jungle. The mountains in the distance rise to almost three thousand feet, and the big rock on the horizon reminded me of Monkey Island.

Hostel Aquario was as idyllic as we could ever have imagined, right on the water with the jungle out the back. There was a tide pool out the front, filled with starfish and urchins - and not just the guests.

Aquario Hostel

Lopes Mendes beach

Lopes Mendes beach is probably the most famous on Ilha Grande, we took a boat round the island one morning and spent most of the day there, attempting and failing to surf, playing sumo and getting sunburnt. It was more than ten years before I attempted surfing again, in Costa Rica.

Our walk back from Lopes Mendes to Abraao took us quite high up over the island, and took about two and a half hours. We nearly ran out of water and arrived just as it was getting dark, a good thing as we had no torches and the footpaths certainly aren't lit!


Window on the world

In the Aquario hostel we would sit in the courtyard next to this view and eat watermelon and pineapple for our breakfast - pure tranquility.

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