Ilha Grande (“Great Island”) is located on the Costa Verde (“Green Coast”), approximately 95 southwest of Rio de Janeiro, just off the coast from Angra dos Reis (“Two King’s Cove”).
Ilha Grande is roughly 236 miles from Sao Paulo, holding the title of Brazil’s third-largest island with an area of 74.5 square miles.
Despite its prime location between two of the continent’s largest cities, the island remains relatively undeveloped and pristine.
For centuries and until 1994, Ilha Grande served as a penal colony—a sort of Devil’s Island—preventing development.
Much of the island is swathed in Mata Atlantica (“Atlantic Rainforest”).
Waterfalls and streams thread Ilha Grande while sheltered coves protect more than 100 hidden beaches. Ilha Grande has no paved roads.
Accordingly, transportation is primarily by boat, with hiking trails ringing the shore.
Abraao & Pico de Papagaio
The south side of the island is open to the sea, featuring bigger waves and swells.
This is where you’ll find the best surf beaches.
The northern shore is home to Abraao, the island’s largest village, protected in a bay and backdropped by Pico de Papagaio.
The ruins of the historic penitentiaries are within walking distance of the village.
Pristine Beaches and Fresh Seafood
This part of the island is known for its pristine beaches, secluded moorings, and a handful of small-scale restaurants specializing in fresh seafood.
Most visitors to Ilha Grande stay for three to seven nights, choosing between Several small hotels in Abraao and a collections of luxury villas available for rent away from town.
Multi-Day Yacht Charters
Our favorite way to see the island is by multi-day yacht charter.
Visitors to Ilha Grande can enjoy sailing, whale watching, surfing, rainforest and waterfall hikes, fishing charters, and day trips to the colonial port of Paraty.
The nearest international airport is Rio de Janeiro (GIG), 95 miles to the northeast.
That said, the local airfield in Angra dos Reis—15 minutes by boat from Ilha Grande—is suitable for light aircraft and small jets.
Helicopter Charters and Private Land Transfers
Helicopter charters are also available, with helipads accommodating aircraft up to 5 tons.
Private land transfers can be arranged from either Rio (2.5 hours) or Sao Paulo (around seven hours).
Both roads generally in good condition, and picnic lunches can be arranged.
Sailboats and power craft can also be chartered from Rio or Angra dos Reis.
Ilha Grande is a year-round destination.
Ilha Grande Climate
High temperatures average between 80°F and 84°F from October to May, cooling off to the high-70’s during the June to September winter.
Precipitation is greatest from October to April (6.6 to 9.5 inches per month) and lowest from June to August (around three inches).
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