Ilha Grande hiking between the jungle and the beach
During 2,5 months that we spent hiking in Patagonia we were dreaming about relaxing on the beach. imagining nice sunny weather, warm water, us swimming and eating nice food. BUT when we arrived at Ilha Grande – a perfect place for all above mentioned activities, we discovered a hike around the island. Temptation to spend all days chilling out on the beach was strong but curiosity was stronger! Now looking back we are absolutely happy we decided to do this hike, it became one of our favorite. Every day walking we couldn’t stop admiring the fact that we could hike and at the same time swim in crystal clear warm water!
Ilha Grande (Big Island) lies close to the mainland, about 30min. by boat, 1-1,5 hours by local ferry. The best thing about the island is that there are no roads, no cars. To get somewhere you either walk or go by boat. No roads but there are plenty of foot paths you can get to any place on the island walking. You can basically walk around it through the jungle, pristine beaches and clear water lagoons, here and there you can see or hear exotic animals or birds. Ilha Grande is just 193km2 but it has more than 100 beaches!!! Walking around you’ll have a good chance to see most of them!
By the way during the season (January, February) and weekends or public holidays Ilha Grande can get quite busy and crowded. Many boats and people everywhere, loud music and noise, so it’s better to do the hike in a week. One more drawback of coming here on public holidays are prices, they are almost double, so check Brazilian calendar before.
Ilha Grande hiking around the island budget (5 days/person)
- camping – 80reals/22$
- food – 100reals/28$
Total: 180reals/50$, 10$ per day, not that much for what you get.
How to get to Ilha Grande
Ilha Grande is not that far from the main cities, 100km from Rio and 430km from Sao Paulo, to get there is quite easy. From Sao Paulo (our route) bus to Angra dos Reies (75reales/21$, yes, buses in Brazil are expensive). Bus leaves at 12.20 (there is an earlier one about 9 or 10am) and supposed to arrive at Angra about 7pm but we got there at 9pm. Unfortunately it was too late for the ferry, we had to spend a night in Angra. Next day we caught a ferry at 3.30pm, it took about 1,5 hours to get to Ilha Grande, price 15reals. There is a faster way by speed boat (leaves every hour or so), it takes 30min. and costs 40reals. We always choose the cheapest and usually the longest option.
If you coming from Rio, the nearest town from where the ferries depart is Mangaratiba, about 2 hours by bus, from Mangaratiba you catch a ferry/boat to Ilha Grande.
From the island we went to Rio and it was easy as well, morning ferry from Abraao (Ilha Grande) to Angra for 15reals/4$, than to get from the ferry terminal to the bus station you can walk (20min.) or go by public bus for 3reals/1$. Next bus to Rio leaves at 12.30 and costs 52reals/14$, in 2-2,5 hours you’ll find yourself in the city of god.
Many tour agencies offer different transfer options (boat+mini bus) to/from Rio/Sao Paulo/Parati. It’s the easiest, the fastest and of course the most expensive way. Transfer to Rio will cost you 120reals/34$.
Boats timetable from Angra dos Reies to Abraao (Ilha Grande), cost 40reals/11$
Departure time Days
07:00 Every day
08:00 Every day
09:00 Every day
10:00 Every day
11:00 Every day
11:30 Every day
12:30 Every day
13:30 Every day
16:00 Every day
17:00 Every day
17.30 Every day, except Sat
18:30 Every day
Ferries timetable from Angra dos Reies to Abraao
Time Days Price
13:30 Sat, Sun, holidays 15reals/4$
14:30 Mon – Fri 25/7$
15:30 Mon – Fri 15/4$
Boats from Abraao to Angra dos Reies, 40reals
Departure time Days
06:30 Mon – Fri
08:00 Every day
09:00 Every day
09:30 Every day
10:00 Every day
11:00 Every day
12:00 Every day, except Sat
13:00 Every day
16:00 Every day
16:30 Every day
17:00 Every day
17:30 Every day
Ferries from Abraao to Angra dos Reies
Departure time Days Price
10:00 Every day 15reals/4$
More information about transport you can find here.
Campings in Abraao, Ilha Grande
Abraao is the biggest and the most touristy place on the island. There are many accommodation and food options, tour agencies and other features of any popular holiday place. It’s a good place to prepare for the hike.
The cheapest (15reals per person) camping we could find in Abraao is Raio de Sol on the parallel to the beach street, there is a signboard. It has everything necessary; toilet, hot shower, kitchen with utensils, electricity, wifi, many outlets, quite a nice well-organized area. Campings on the beach street are more expensive (20-25reales).
Wild camping on the beach is illegal if you get caught you’ll pay a fine and can lose your tent, don’t do it in Abraao. You can try to camp on a wild beach after the dark and break your tent just before the sunrise.
If you have some extra luggage you don’t need for the hike, ask in the camping to store it till you’re back, they stored it for us and didn’t charge anything.
5-day hiking around Ilha Grande
We walked around Ilha Grande in 5 days. Of course it wasn’t enough, you need at least a week, 10 days even better. You need time to fully appreciate the scenery, hidden beaches, beautiful sunsets, amazing jungles. As well as to enjoy swimming, to chill out in the hammock, to spend more time just relaxing (we spent most of our days walking) and to visit more places. Unfortunately for us we had only 5 days and two options; to do the hike in 5 days or not to do at all. It’s always better to do, so we did and were very happy about our decision.
The hike is quite popular in Brazil but not that famous among foreign tourists, it’s difficult to find any information in English, hopefully our article will help and inspire more tourists to do it.
1st day. Abraao – Feiticeira – Japariz – Saco do Ceu – Freguesia de Santana – Bananal, 13km with breaks for swimming, eating and resting it took 8 hours.
We started our first day around 10am, of course it’s better to start earlier to walk as much as possible before it gets too hot but packing and doing last-minute shopping took some time. From the first till the last day the scenery is very similar, jungles and beaches, ups and downs, amazing views from the top, small waterfalls, bamboo forests, caves and lagoons.
After 15 minutes walk from Abraao you’ll find Lazareto ruins, look like aqueduct. This part of the route is quite busy, all tourists walk to the waterfall 30min. from the ruins. The waterfall is small with a pool in front and could be a nice place if it wasn’t for the crowd, we hardly could see it, tourists were everywhere, easily can be skipped on weekends.
After the waterfall we found ourselves practically alone on the trail, on the beaches there were still people (majority got there by boats) but none walking through the jungle.
From the waterfall we went to Feiticeira beach for a short swim, ate acai and continued walking.
Next beach on our way was Saco de Seo, beautiful beach, soft white sand, crystal clear water, few people. If you stay in the water for a short while small fishes will start peeling your feet, very nice feeling after walking a lot.
After one more hour walk we arrived at Japariz beach our least favorite beach on Ilha Grande. For some reasons many people come here for a day visit, the beach gets very crowded and noisy. Loud music, many vendors, bars and boats everywhere, can easily be passed by, there will be plenty of nice unspoilt beaches for next 4 or 5 days.
The last beach before our camping place was Freguesia de Santana nice beach, it was too late for us to stop for swimming and chilling out there so we just kept walking to Bananal.
Between Freguesia and Bananal there is a place called Lagoa Azul (Blue lagoon) – it’s a very popular place for snorkeling, if you have time you can enjoy its calm water and snorkel in the lagoon. You don’t need a boat to get there (some locals will assure you do), just swim out about 50m from the shore. We chose for snorkeling another lagoon Lagoa Verde, near Aracatiba.
Right after the sunset we got to Bananal, our first try to find a camping wasn’t successful. We were told there was no camping in Bananal, don’t believe it, not everybody knows about the camping. Local fishermen pointed us to a place called Casa de Cristina (Cristina’s house). In a backyard of her house you can pitch a tent, she charges 20reals/person. For this money you get access to the toilet, cold water shower, kitchen with utensils, tap water is drinkable (at least we drank and had no problem).
2nd day. Banalan – Matariz – Sitio Forte – Lagoa Verde – Aracatiba, 13km.
A day of pristine beaches and calm sea.
First part from Bananal to Sitio Forte, 2 hours, constant ups and downs with a couple of nice empty beaches on the way: Jaconema, Matariz, where you can relax, refresh in the sea and eat some acai in one of the local cafes.
Since I mentioned acai – a typical Brazilian dessert let me explain what it is. Acai it’s a palm tree, its fruit small berries (look like blackcurrant). To make a dessert they use mashed and frozen pulp of the berries. They serve it with granola, chocolate (any other) syrup, bananas or other fruit. Acai is delicious, a must thing to try in Brazil.
Once in Stitio Forte you can go straight to Aracatiba or make a loop and go first to snorkel in Lagoa Verde (green lagoon), it’s about an hour walk. Lagoa Verde is a very nice place, warm clear water, sand bottom, many small fishes mostly around big stones, it’s better to arrive late afternoon, after 4pm there will be none, earlier can be tourist boats and people.
From Lagoa Verde to Aracatiba 2 more hours walk through the jungle, it was the first time we heard howler monkeys on the island. There is one camping in Aracatiba, just a private house with sand yard used as camping area, 20reales/person. It has hot shower, toilet, no kitchen, electricity (only at night) and one outside outlet. Ask about the camping at the church, it’s right on the beach. We really liked Aracatiba and could spent one more day there just chilling out and swimming. A very quite place with few tourists, couple of shops and pizza places.
3rd day. Aracatiba – Proveta – Aventureiro, 8km, about 4,5-5 hours.
Next morning we went from Aracatiba to Proveta, 2 hours walk, up from one beach through the jungle and down to the other beach. Here you have typical scenery, flora and fauna: monkeys, spiders, squirrels, butterflies and even one armadillo. Proveta is a small sleepy fishermen village, with a nice beach for swimming. A good place to rest a bit before next up and following down to Aventureiro, the most difficult up on the hike (long, steep and partly no shadow). Don’t forget to refill you water it’ll will be very hot up there!
Up and down from Proveta to Aventureiro took us about 2-2,5 hours. Once at the beach you can relax a bit and catch your breath before starting looking for a camping. Actually there are plenty of them. We stayed at Lucciano’s camping, 20reales/person (the cheapest we found). It has a kitchen, toilets (with toilet paper and free condoms), electricity but no outlets, again we drank tap water and had no problem. Aventureiro is one of our favorite beaches on the island, powder like white sand, mountains covered with jungles around. It can be a bit windy and there are some waves, maybe not that comfortable for swimming.
Aventureiro is a surf beach, you can rent a board there, probably to find an instructor won’t be a problem. Very chilled out place, luckily you can’t get there by boat (waves), no day visitors and loud music on the beach. Keep in mind the only one way out of there is walking! By the way don’t forget to walk to the beach after dark and check beautiful night sky. Again we could have easily stayed here longer, wonderful beach.
4th day. Avetureiro – Parnaioca – Dois Rios – Caxadaco – Santo Antonio, 17km.
Day of beautiful scenery, empty beaches and a bit of a drama by the end.
This day we started very early, quick broke our tent, packed and left without breakfast and the reason was we wanted to walk through the National Reserve territory. Actually you are not supposed to do it without a guide and permit. In fact you can arrange both in Angra dos Reies but it’s kind of complicated and expensive. On the official map there is no path between Aventureiro and Parnaioca but the path exists and it’s very clear. During the season (January, February) there can be rangers on the beach but off season there is none watching, so it’s easy to slip past.
The walk from Aventureiro to Parnaioca is absolutely beautiful, unspoilt beaches, dense jungle, huge trees, caves and fresh sea breeze. We stopped at one of the beaches to eat our take-away breakfast and enjoy the scenery.
After 2 hours we reached Parnaioca, camping village, with a chapel, cemetery (probably some tourists stayed too long) and three or four campings, and a small waterfall. If you don’t have food you can buy here cooked meals. Certain time of the day they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner at campings. The beach is as most beaches on Ilha Grande very nice, with soft white sand, big rocks on the edge of the water and jungle around, nice place to chill out a day or two.
And now a bit of a drama at the end of the day, we got lost in the jungle at night. How it happened; we were planning to camp in Dois Rios village. But when we got there we found out there was no camping. The village itself looked a bit strange we didn’t like it that much, it was still early and we decided to keep walking through Caxadaco to Lopes Mendes beach. We arrived at Caxadaco about 5pm, the beach is tiny and when the high tide is completely covered with the water. We still had an hour or so before the dark and kept walking to Lopes Mendes.
Officially there is no path from Caxadaco to Lopes, it’s some kind of military area but in fact the path just continues and we continued with it. It was about 5km to Lopes Mendes we tried to walk very fast but anyway didn’t make it before the dark. In the jungle under the trees it gets dark even before 6pm. At some stage we lost the path, our only torch didn’t really illuminate anything, we had to go back and luckily found the way. After 20 more minutes we found a signboard saying 200m to the beach and followed it. It wasn’t Lopes Mendes but we didn’t care about it we just wanted to find a place for camping. Our night walk through the jungle was accompanied by scaring sounds, loud growling, it was nothing more than harmless howler monkeys preparing for the night.
We camped at Santo Antonio beach, under a big fruit tree with small bats flying around, “hunting” for fruit and owls hunting for the bats. If you decide to camp on the beach make sure you pitch your tent far enough from the water otherwise high tide can surprise you.
5th day, the last day. Santo Antonio – Lopes Mendes – Puoco – Palmas – Abraao, 7,5km.
Next morning we woke up quite early to break our tent before anybody arrived, our beach in daylight looked very nice for sunbathing but not for swimming due to shallow and constant waves. After breakfast we went to our last night destination Lopes Mendes beach, one of the most beautiful beaches either in the region or in all Brazil there are different opinions on it.
The beach is beautiful long and wide, with soft white sand, jungle on the background and big rocks on both sides but quite busy due to its fame .
We spent there some time and then continued through Pouso and Mangues beaches, both are very nice, clear water, no waves. Mangues is more commercial and developed, with bars-restaurants, hotels, hostels and campings. The cheapest room option (bed in dorm) is 30reals/person.
Before going back to Abraao we visited one more beach, Palmas, few minutes walk from Mangues, one more nice beach, smaller than two previous, kind of secret beach with few people.
What we saw on the hike
Since the big part of your walk is through the jungle you have a good chance to see some animals and birds. In 5 days we saw: many marmoset and howler monkeys, squirrels, one armadillo, many lizards, owls, bats, parrots, vultures, different tropical birds, humming birds, many spiders with their huge webs all over the jungle and butterflies. On the official web page it says you can also see sloths, we weren’t that lucky, and they warn you about poison snakes, we were lucky enough not to see any.
What will you need for the hike
Camping gear: tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, torch, sunscreen with high protection 50 or so (very important), repellent, cap/hat, sunglasses, mask and snorkel (optional), water bottle, proper hiking shoes (we did all the hike in flip-flops because our shoes were destroyed after our last hike Torres del Paine in Patagonia, and it was uncomfortable but doable),
cooking stuff (if you are going to cook, in most places, except wild beaches, you can buy ready meals), toilet paper and some clothes for hot weather. We had a paper map of the route to know the places names and see all the circuit but often used app Maps.me it has all the trails including ones that officially don’t exist.
Hike around Ilha Grande became one of our favorite and we definitely recommend it. So if you like beaches but don’t like spending days sunbathing, it’s a very good chance to combine beach holiday with hiking. We really enjoyed the hike and hope you’ll enjoy it as well!
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