Sun, sea, sand and… snorkelling on Ilha Grande

Ilha Grande, Brazil

It was my first experience in a triple bunk hostel in a place that clearly practised rack ‘em and stack ‘em, where tripping over bags and inhaling recycled breath was to be expected.

I’d sailed into the simple docks of Abraão on Ilha Grande where touts eagerly awaited new arrivals offering rooms at rates that easily competed with my pre-booked hostel bed.

Once checked in, me and a friend set off to explore the village. It didn’t take long. Consisting of places to eat and shops stacked high with overpriced souvenirs and Havaianas, Abraão is fully established as a tourist spot.

One of the main streets down to the beach in Ilha Grande, Brazil

Part of its appeal is the lack of vehicles. People walk and cycle about the place and little boats take visitors out on day trips to more remote beaches on the island. Sixteen trails of different lengths and difficulty are mapped out for walks across the island but it’s the beaches that are the main attraction, some perfect for lounging and swimming, others for snorkelling, others still for surfing.

Praia Preta, Ilha Grande, Brazil

Going snorkelling at Praia Preta, Ilha Grande, Brazil

I hired some snorkelling equipment (R$15) and made my way over to nearby Praia Preta with its dusting of black sand. I wasn’t the only one with that idea. Walking away from the crowds and right along to the rocks, however,  resulted in a pleasing reward in the shape of an enclosed bit of privacy.

Swim, snorkel, sun dry, read, chat, picnic, repeat. Good times.

Praia Preta, Ilha Grande, Brazil

Private hideaway, Ilha Grande, Brazil

And then what else to do on the island other than window shop, eat out and indulge on tasty desserts from outdoor sweets trolleys, and sit under twinkling fairy lights on the beachfront whilst listening to street musicians as night took hold?

Sweets stall, Ilha Grande, Brazil

Overall, with more money I could have stayed here longer, exploring secluded bays, maybe doing some diving. But Brazil is expensive for backpackers, and little islands with inflated prices proved to be even more problematic. After three nights on Ilha Grande, I bade farewell to this cute little place and boarded a boat back to the mainland.

Getting to Ilha Grande from Rio de Janeiro is pretty straightforward and takes between three to four hours. You can either take a bus with Costa Verde from RODOVIARIA (main bus terminal in Rio) to Angra do Reis where you can catch a ferry or local boat to Vila do Abraão, or book a direct transfer through your hostel/hotel. The latter can work out a little cheaper if you factor in a taxi ride to the bus terminal. All in, travel to the island should cost you in the region of R$85. Speedy return transfers are easily booked when on the island and depart three times per day.


Filed under activity & sport, beaches, brazil, costs/money, diving, food & drink, south america

14 responses to “Sun, sea, sand and… snorkelling on Ilha Grande

  1. M P Holbek

    Hello darling niece. What a joy to follow your travels .This place sounds idyllic indeed, for a holiday by the sea……. I think of you so much and send you my warmest love from chilly brittain…..Love from Joanie and all the family xxxxxxxxx

    • Yes, absolutely. Lovely place that I wish I had explored a bit more… another time! Love to you all. Hope to visit the UK at Christmas and see you all then. xxx

  2. nice article and pics, takes me back to being there in November last year… it is pricey, but it’s worth the stretch i reckons…

    • Definitely. In Bolivia now (my blog is way behind!) and I’m enjoying reading your posts on the place. Still not sure about Potosi and the mines but I watched The Devil’s Miner – strong stuff. Cheers popping by my blog! Enjoy your journey.

  3. You think your blog is behind, I’m back in England and I still have 3 more countries to write up! So it goes. Wish I was still travelling… Potosi itself is nothing special I thought, but the mines still rate as one of the best/most terrifying experiences of the trip. If you make it out alive, not much will match the exhilaration!

  4. Beautiful photos and cute snorkel march lol 😀

  5. Ilha Grande was one of my favorite spots the first time I visited Brazil in 1998. There’s some great hiking there – between the beaches and up into the mountains. Very low key. Thanks for bringing me back, virtually.

    • I’d definitely like to go back and do some hiking – don’t feel like I really had enough time there. Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for commenting!

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