We had heard a lot of good things about Ilha Grande from a few travellers and hostel owners along the way so had to come and check out this unspoilt paradise.
Getting closer to the island by boat we could begin to see the beauty of the island. Dense jungle covering the vast majority of it with small beach side communities lining parts of the coast.
I was told that Ilha Grande was very similar to the Thai islands and that partying to the early hours was mandatory. Maybe because the World Cup had just finished, or maybe due to low season, but we hardly saw much hedonism.
I decided it would be a great idea to run from the main settlement to the first beach, Palmas, and back. Well, it was a beautiful trail to run but I’m no Mo Farah so it took me around 30 minutes one way.
The whole trail is up and downhill, maybe one slight run of flat but the rest is up or down. There are no cars on the island, therefore no roads, so running between branches and boulders made it twice as difficult.
But with the help of some rest breaks and 2 or 3 groups of people walking to the beaches cheering me on I made it there and back. Well worth the run if you don’t mind a bit of a challenge.
There isn’t too much to say apart from the setting is absolutely stunning. From the main settlement on the island you can see mainland Brazil lit up along with all the little fishing boats in the foreground.
The only thing is, you have to pay for this privilege. The beers aren’t cheap down here and the food is very expensive for a travellers budget.
Head a street back from the beach to eat, then pick up a few cans and chill on the beach for the same effect but a lot of pennies saved!
BBQ, Caipirinhas & Chicken Goggles
So you’re on an island paradise and theres an all you can eat buffet next food. R$30 with a free drink included wasn’t too bad, until you turn up with half the island and the food is rationed out. Not to worry though, they carried on cooking for the 70+ people there and everyone had their fill.
Theres no surprise what happened after too, everyone stayed behind to drink Caiparinhas! We started off a game of Chicken Goggles and before long our group of 8 had grown to a group of 20+. Amazing the pull of wanting to sound like a chicken in a bar.
Lopes Mendes Beach
The beach by the main settlement is not really anything too special and with all the boats in the water there can be bits of fuel on the surface here and there.
Lopes Mendes however is the complete opposite. You have to take a boat (which takes less time but is more expensive than the boat to the island from the mainland!) to another beach, then walk 30 minutes down a jungle trail before you see the sands of Lopes Mendes.
The sand is beautiful, white and fine and there are no boats in the water which makes the sea 100 times better. The beach is pretty flat too so that game of beach football you are craving is perfect here.
All in all Ilha Grande is a beautiful place to stay and unwind for a few days. But it’s not a party island like in Thailand, the alcohol is expensive (R$10 for a Caiparinha when you can buy a full bottle of Cassasa for R$7 and make some yourself!) and loud music was virtually non existent.
Go, but chill, don’t expect fire rope and cheap buckets.
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