Ilha Grande has had a colorful history. Once a penal colony for Brazil’s most dangerous criminals and before that a leper colony, this tropical oasis, translates in English as “The Big Island,” and is now one of Rio de Janeiro’s most popular weekend getaway spots. With city dwellers and foreigners alike coming to its shores to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city. Ilha Grande is known for its unspoiled character, as it has remained mostly untouched by development or the influx of big name brands. Most of the businesses, lodgings, and attractions are run by native families, helping to preserve Ilha Grande’s island community and low-key atmosphere. The island benefits from white sandy beaches, crystal clear blue seas and countless coconut trees that are dotted throughout Ilha Grande’s lush green hillsides and beachfront.
Ilha Grande has a tropical climate, with high temperatures all year round. Rainy season lasts from April to September, and the coldest months are from May to August, but even so, temperatures remain consistent around 20° C. The summer months from December to March are the hottest and temperatures can climb to 40° C, and they are also the busiest, so if you want a quieter holiday, visit the island in October or November. If you decide to visit in low season during the winter months from July to September, prices are lower, and crowds are fewer. Just speak to one of our travel experts, and they can advise you on what the best time to go is depending on your travel goals.
Getting to Ilha Grande is something of an adventure, but it is indeed worth the effort. Most visitors will fly into Rio, and get a bus from the main terminal to either Mangaratiba, Conceição de Jacareí, or Angra dos Reis, then from there get a boat over to the island. Conceição de Jacareí has the most amount of ferries and will bring you to the village of Abraão, from where you can access many of the island’s trails and hikes. Speak to one of our travel experts, and they can talk you through the process of getting to the island and arrange all the steps of the journey for you.
It is best to bring cash with you for your trip to Ilha Grande. There is no bank on the island and only one ATM, only a few of the restaurants and guesthouses accept cards. The island’s guest houses, or pousadas, are dotted all over it, with no one central area for accommodation. The island has over 30 restaurants, most of them serving seafood and fish. The island is safe to walk around, so you don’t need to worry about leaving valuables or cash behind you. The beauty of Ilha Grande is that you will feel at times like you have the island to yourself, such as the isolated nature of many of the lodgings and the quietness of the hills and trails.