The Complete Guide to Ilha Grande


Ilha Grande – which literally translates to Big Island – is a tropical island just off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state and is about 160 kilometers from Copacabana.

It is an island defined by its white beaches and clear blue waters. It is also a car-free zone. In short, it is a slice of Brazilian paradise and is ideal for a weekend getaway from Rio de Janeiro. It can be done in a day, but you will be pushed for time if you want to do everything.

Don’t have time to read the whole article?

If you want to visit Ilha Grande but are short on time, then I recommend booking this Full Day Tour to Angra dos Reis and Ilha Grande tour, with a (near) perfect ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating.

I stayed for one night and two days, and that was ok – but I think one more night would have been perfect. But the time I spent there was wonderful, and I managed to pack in plenty of great activities and see some unforgettable sights. Here is my complete guide to Ilha Grande Rio de Janeiro.

Ilha Grande Rio de Janeiro

How to get there

The best way to get to the island is to take a ferry to Ilha Grande Rio de Janeiro.

So, how to get to Ilha Grande? The easiest way of getting there is a bus from Rio de Janeiro and then the ferry over to the island. There are several routes, so here are all your options.

First of all, the main port on Ilha Grande is Vila do Abraão, so that’s where you’ll be heading. To get there, you have to take a boat from either Mangaratiba (which is closest to Rio), Conceição de Jacareí (the closest point to Ilha Grande Brazil and with the most boat departures), or Angra dos Reis (which is the closest to São Paulo). I took the one from Conceição de Jacareí as it has plenty of boat departures at all hours, so we didn’t need to wait long to board.

Getting a boat from Mangaratiba 

This trip will take between 1 hour and 20 minutes to 1 hour and 40 minutes to reach the island. They depart just once a day at 8 am except on Fridays when there is one extra departure at 10 pm.

The boats are huge, with a capacity of between 500 and 1,000 people, and visitors can take up to 10 bikes with them (why you would need so many bikes, I’m not sure!) free of charge. The boat back to Mangaratiba from Abraão leaves once a day at 5.30 pm. The cost of a ticket is R$16.60.


30 things you need to know before you go to Rio de Janeiro…

Getting a boat from Angra dos Reis

🏷️ The price for a one-way ticket is R$70 (USD$14).

 will take between 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes to reach the island. Like Mangaratiba, they depart just once a day at 3.30 pm on Mondays to Fridays and at 1.30 pm on weekends and holidays.

The boats that leave Ilha Grande Angra dos Reis are big, with a capacity of between 500 and 1,000 passengers, and they have the same rules about bikes as the boats that leave from Mangaratiba. The boat back to Angra dos Reis from Abraão leaves once a day at 10 am. The cost of a ticket is R$20 (USD$5).

Unlike Mangaratiba, Angra dos Reis also has smaller and fastest schooners available, which run on a much more frequent timetable. The journey to the island takes between 30 minutes to 1 hour and 40 minutes, and the boats have a capacity of between 30 to 120 people. They run every day at every hour from 7 am to 6 pm and go to Abraão. To go back from Abraão to Angra dos Reis, the boats run every day for nearly every hour from 6:30 am to 6 pm.

Getting the boat from Conceição de Jacareí

🏷️ The price for a one-way ticket is R$50 (USD$10).

This is my favorite choice as it’s quicker and much more convenient. The trip to the island takes between 15 and 20 minutes (which basically means more beach time on the island!), and the boats have a capacity of between 30 and 60 passengers.

They run regularly between 8:30 am and 6:15 pm (with an extra trip at 9 pm on a Friday) to go to the island and run between 7:30 am and 5:30 pm (with an extra trip at 8 pm on Friday) to back to Conceição de Jacareí.

You can get your tickets from the port, so no worries about booking in advance. To get more information about the exact timetable, take a look here.

Ilha Grande Rio de Janeiro

How do I get to Mangaratiba/Conceição/Angra?

An aerial view of the Bay of Ilha Grande Brasil (Fabio Takashi, CC BY 2.0 BR, via Wikimedia Commons)

The easiest way is to take a bus from the Rodoviaria in Rio de Janeiro. Take the comfy Costa Verde bus (you can either book it in advance or simply book it at the Rodoviaria before you board. That’s what I did), which costs around R$50 (USD$10) to Mangaratiba and around R$70 (USD$14) to Conceição and Angra. You can also book a shared transfer from Rio de Janeiro (like this one).

There are plenty of guided tours that offer a full package – hotel pickup, bus there, and boat trip over. Like this Angra & Ilha Grande Private Boat Tour: With Barbecue and Drinks and Day Trip to Angra dos Reis from Rio de Janeiro. However, most tours start from Ilha Grande, so you’ll have to make your way to the island before booking a tour.

Ilha Grande Rio de Janeiro

5 Tips for the Island

Once you get to Ilha Grande, here are a couple of tips that you should consider to make the best out of your islands adventure:

1. Take cash

There are no cash points on the island, and not every restaurant, shop, or bar accept card yet. So you may need to pay in cash. I think it is improving now as the flow of tourists is always increasing year by year, but I remember being grateful that I had taken out cash beforehand – normally, I pay for everything by card, so I was lucky to have some fortunate hindsight!

2. There are no cars on the island

There are no roads on the island. It is a motor-free zone, which is one of the many charms of Ilha Grande. Yet this is something worth remembering if you’re carrying heavy luggage – you may consider renting out one of those push carts when you arrive to help you take your back to your accommodation.

3. Pack Smart

There are plenty of hikes on the island, some with challenging climbs, others simply flat trails leading through the forest. Take good shoes – trainers are absolutely fine – and remember to set off each day with plenty of water! The tropical weather can be fierce, and you should always try to stay hydrated. Make sure to also bring sunglasses, hats, and mosquito repellent. Although you can buy repellent at some shops, it’s best to come prepared. The worst time is during the evenings.

4. Book Accommodation in Advance

It’s usually easy to find a hotel or hostel when you get to Ilha Grande, but it gets a bit trickier during the busy summer season and long weekends. The island is mostly untouched and hasn’t seen a lot of big building projects. While that’s great for keeping the island’s natural beauty, it means there are not a lot of places to stay.

So, if you’re planning to visit in the summer or on a holiday weekend, it’s a good idea to book your accommodation in advance. This way, you won’t have to worry about trying to find a room when there aren’t many left.

5. Go Hiking

You can walk all the way around the island! Yet it’s not called Big Island for nothing, you know; it can take between 4 and 5 days to make it all the way around. If you have your heart set on doing it, though, it’s best to start at Abraão and walk in an anti-clockwise direction.

💡 Note: at the other end of the island, accommodation is quite scarce, so you will need to plan this before (that or find a friendly local who doesn’t mind providing a bed for the night!). Camping is not permitted outside the designated places in an attempt to protect the island’s environment, so take care to follow these rules.

6. Book A Boat Tour

Ilha Grande is surrounded by dozens of nearby, smaller uninhabited islands. Take a boat tour from Vila do Abraão to visit these tiny, tropical islands. The beaches there are wild and untouched, with marine-rich waters. Some of the best (and highest boat tours) include:

The Angra dos Reis: 5-Stop Ilha Grande Speedboat Tour transports you to the stunning sights and beaches of Ilha Grande. Start your journey from Estação Santa Luzia hopping on a shared speedboat and setting off on a 5-hour exploration. Marvel at the natural aquarium at Lagoa Azul, snap pictures at Grumixama’s idyllic white sands and take a leisurely lunch break (not included) at Praia das Flechas beach. Continue your tour with a visit to the historical beach of Freguesia de Santana and wrap up at Catagueses, two picturesque islands known for their TV commercial fame. Round-trip transportation is included. ➥ BOOK IT HERE.

The Exclusive Excursion: Speedboat Ride in Angra is a perfect blend of luxury and adventure. Ideal for larger groups, this private tour takes guests on a stunning journey through the captivating islands and beaches of Angra. Boasting over 15 years of nautical expertise, this responsible and reliable company guarantees safety, comfort, and punctuality on every voyage. Make your trip an unforgettable one and experience the very best of what Angra has to offer. ➥ BOOK IT HERE.

From Abraão, Ilha Grande: Full-Day Tour Around the Island invites you on an exploration of Brazil’s paradise, Ilha Grande. Sail through clear blue waters, soak up idyllic landscapes, and delve into the island’s colonial history. Your journey begins in Abraão, stopping at five unique beaches each for about 50 minutes. Uncover the mystique of Caxadaço, ride the waves at Dois Rios, relax at secluded Parnaioca, marvel at the iconic “lying coconut tree” at Aventureiro, and appreciate Dos Meros’ isolated beauty. Round-trip transport is included. ➥ BOOK IT HERE.

Ilha Grande Rio de Janeiro

Beaches In Ilha Grande

Sailboats at the Lopes Mendes beach in Ilha Grande

Ilha Grande does beaches splendidly. One of the best ones is Lopes Mendes, with its long, white sandy beach, crystal clear shallow waters, and a fringe of tropical palm trees. It is the definition of paradise.

The water is good for surfing, although you have to paddle quite far out as the water remains shallow for a while. To get there, take a speedboat from Abraão to Pouso and try to do this on a calm day – when I did it, the waves were big, and I was convinced that I was going to be catapulted out of the boat!

From Pouso, it’s a pleasant 20-minute hike through the forest before arriving at the Lopes Mendes beach. Provisions are in short supply there, although you can buy water, beers, caipirinhas, and basic snacks there. It’s a good idea to bring some of your own snacks with you too.

Arguably the best Ilha Grande beach is Parnaioca Beach, yet it is much less visited. Why? It can only be accessed either by boat or a 3-hour hike from the Dois Rios near Abraão. It’s worth it, though – few people make the effort to go there, so you’ll be rewarded with a secluded beach with very little crowds.

Other great beaches worth checking out include Aventureiro Beach (look out for the famous L-shaped palm tree there), Santo Antonio Beach (a tiny beach with turquoise waters), and Caxadaço Beach (another tiny beach surrounded by dense forest).

Ilha Grande Rio de Janeiro

Other things to do in Ilha Grande

What to do in Ilha Grande? How about going surfing at Lopes Mendes Beach, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

If you want to take a break from all the beaches, there are a couple of other things that you can do in Ilha Grande.

Visit the abandoned Candido Mendes prison.

This prison was once used to lock up some of Brazil’s most dangerous criminals until it was closed in 1994. It includes stories of escapes, such as when Escadinho, a Brazilian drug lord, was broken out with a helicopter. It can be reached by following the trail from the Vila de Dois Rios.

Go Scuba diving (Or Snorkelling)

Ilha Grande is great for dive lovers, and there are several schools to rent equipment from. Expect to see tropical fish, coral reefs, and even the occasional turtle. I didn’t dive there, but I’ve heard that some of the best spots are Ilha de Jorge Grego, the island in front of Lopes Mendes beach, Gruta do Acaia, and Ilha das Palmas.

However, I did go snorkeling, and I would highly recommend Lagoa Azul in the far north of Ilha Grande or Lagoa Verde. The water is so blue with amazing visibility, and I saw plenty of colorful shoals of fish.

Hike Pico de Papagaio

Standing at 980 meters tall, this is the second largest peak on the island and takes about two to three hours to reach the top. It’s a challenging trek, but the views over the entire island are worth it.

Don’t want to hike Pico de Papagai yourself, then book this Ilha Grande: Pico do Papagaio – Private Hike – Sunrise or Daytime. You’ll summit the mountain by dawn and watch a beautiful sunrise over Ilha Grande.

Visit the waterfall

The Cachoeira de Feiticeira waterfall is not far from the main port, Abraão. The waterfall stands at 15 meters high, and you can take a shower under it (you will love that during the summertime!) and swim in the pool in front.

Ilha Grande Rio de Janeiro

Places to eat and drink

Being an island surrounded by marine-rich waters, it’s hardly surprising that Ilha Grande does amazing seafood. For a fancy seafront dinner, head to O Pescador, which does Mediterranean-style fish dishes as well as great pasta and meat dinner options.

The fish fillet with passion-fruit sauce is wonderful at Dom Mario, a seafood restaurant in Abraão. Another great seafood restaurant is Restaurante Lua e Mar. With its candlelit tables edging out onto the sand, it’s the perfect spot for a romantic date night.

Ilha Grande Rio de Janeiro

Where to stay

The view from the Pousada Tagomago (Photo from

When I went, I literally left everything last minute and arrived on the first day of a national holiday. Needless to say, on this beautifully sunny weekend, half of Rio’s population and I had decided to come and spend some time at Ilha Grande.

I arrived without any accommodation and everywhere was completely booked. After trekking around, we actually ended up chatting to a friendly local who let us stay there for a discounted price. It was pure luck. However, it’s best to book in advance, especially when traveling there on a weekend or during a holiday.

Here are some of the most popular spots and Ilha Grande hotels on the island:

Pousada Tagomago is an eco-lodge located only 197 feet from Abraao Beach. It offers 6 exclusive suites with scenic ocean views. Wi-Fi is free.➥ Check here for prices and availability.

Asalem is a more luxurious place to stay, but it’s secluded location and forest surroundings are charming, and the attention to detail is impeccable. The hotel overlooks the Crena beach, and guests may find themselves in close proximity to wildlife such as monkeys, hummingbirds, and brightly-colored butterflies. The sea nearby is known to have starfish and turtles. The 6 water-front suites give Asalem an exclusive feel. ➥ Check here for prices and availability.

Pousada Bela Vista, located just steps from Abraao Beach in Abraão, offers city views, a garden, and a terrace. This property features free WiFi throughout, room service, and a tour desk. Additionally, a shuttle service can be arranged by the on-site staff. ➥ Check here for prices and availability.

Che Lagarto is a famous chain of hostels throughout South America, and this one is a popular spot for backpackers. It’s a great place to meet people and is nicely located right next to the beach. ➥ Check here for prices and availability.

Ilha Grande Rio de Janeiro

Ilha Grande Rio de Janeiro: FAQS

Is it worth visiting Ilha Grande?

Absolutely! Ilha Grande is a Brazilian gem boasting pristine beaches, lush tropical forests, and an abundance of wildlife. It’s a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with opportunities for hiking, snorkeling, and relaxing under the sun.

Is Ilha Grande a party island?

Ilha Grande is not typically known as a party island. It’s more recognized for its tranquility, natural beauty, and adventurous activities. However, there are some bars and restaurants for those seeking some Ilha Grande nightlife.

Is it safe to swim in Ilha Grande?

Yes — it is generally safe to swim in Ilha Grande. The island’s beaches are known for their clear, calm waters. However, as with any beach, pay attention to local conditions and safety advice.

What is the most beautiful beach in Ilha Grande?

While all of Ilha Grande’s beaches have their unique charm, Lopes Mendes is often hailed as the most beautiful. It’s powdery white sands and crystal-clear waters offer a true paradise experience.

Lopes Mendes beach, Ilha Grande.

is ilha grande safe?

Yes — Ilha Grande is considered safe for visitors. Like anywhere, it’s important to exercise basic precautions, such as not leaving belongings unattended and avoiding isolated areas after dark. However, the island is generally peaceful, and crime rates are low.

More Rio de Janeiro Blog Articles

I can tell you firsthand that hiking in Rio de Janeiro of the best ways to enjoy Rio — so I’m glad you landed on this article to book yours. If you’re looking for more info on traveling to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, check out these additional Rio travel guides:

Ilha Grande Rio de Janeiro

Final Thoughts: Ilha Grande Rio de Janeiro

Nestled amidst the serene waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Ilha Grande Rio de Janeiro offers an unparalleled fusion of pristine beaches, lush rainforests, and rich biodiversity. The simplicity of its lifestyle is a refreshing escape from bustling city life.

Despite its popularity, Ilha Grande has admirably maintained its unspoiled charm, standing as a testament to Brazil’s dedication to nature preservation. Whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or a tranquil seeker, Ilha Grande Rio de Janeiro promises an experience that’s nothing short of extraordinary. It’s a haven that leaves every visitor longing for more.

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