Located just over 100 kilometers from Rio, Ilha Grande is a piece of paradise in the warm waters of the Costa Verde (the lush, coastal region between Rio and São Paulo). Ilha Grande, the ‘Big Island,’ is sparsely populated with small villages with fishermen and small B&Bs. The island’s main village is Abraão, on the western shore, where passenger ferries land daily. With no cars allowed and mostly untouched by developers, Ilha Grande is the ideal island escape. Most of Ilha Grande is pristine Atlantic Rainforest, with endless options for hikes, panoramic viewpoints, hidden coves, and long white-sand beaches that seldom have crowds. The waters of Ilha Grande are warm and turquoise, making it a great place for snorkeling, swimming and other water sports. On the coast facing the open-ocean, waves can be large and attract surfers, and on the coast facing land, waters are usually calm and perfect for a dip.
Besides hiking, the best way to get around to the many beaches of Ilha Grande is by boat. Water-taxis and day excursions bring visitors to the island’s best beaches, coves and snorkel spots. Most of the island’s accommodations are in Arbaão, but there are other guesthouses on the island’s more remote beaches, as well as campgrounds.