Ilha Grande has had a colourful history. Once a penal colony for Brazil’s most dangerous criminals and prior to that a leper colony, this tropical oasis, which translates in English into The Big Island, 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 unspoilt character, as it has remained largely 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 innumerable coconut trees that are dotted throughout Ilha Grande’s lush green hillsides and beachfronts.
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