Ilha Grande. Island in Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro State

Ilha Grande

Island in Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro State

Praia da Feiticeira Photo © Unknown

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Ilha Grande

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	Lagoon - Ilha Grande
Blue Lagoon - Ilha Grande. Photo by Rio Maximo
The Big Island, also known as the Ilha Grande by the natives, is an island located in Angra dos Reis in the municipality of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The Big Island is the largest of the islands on the coastline of Angra dos Reis. It is an island of 193 km² with rugged and mountainous terrain, the highest elevations are the Pico da Pedra D'Água (1,031 meters high) and the Parrot Peak (at 982 meters). The coasts of the island are indented by numerous coves and peninsulas (bags), forming several beaches; and the vegetation is lush, composed of rainforest, mangroves, and dunes.

The main town of the island is the village of Abraão (Abraham), with approximately 3,000 inhabitants, and has a concentration of the majority of the infrastructure on the island, such as the health center, primary school, post office, fire department, and the military police. A daily ferry service connects the village with Angra dos Reis and Mangaratiba on the continent. The village also has a wide range of hostels, campsites, bars, restaurants, and tourist trade.

The economic activities revolve around fishing and especially tourism. The island currently offers many tourist alternatives: boating, beaches with calm waters to swim in, beaches intended for sports such as surfing and mountain biking, nature trails inside the forest at the center of the island, beyond some historical attractions.

There are four units of conservation in the island, whose access is allowed only to researchers and persons authorized by the INEA and APA of Tamoios. The protected areas are intended to ensure the protection of the large rainforest reserve and the marine life surrounding the island.

Praia de Lopes Mendes - Ilha
Praia de Lopes Mendes - Ilha Grande. Photo by Rogerio Zgiet

Main Beaches

There are 113 beaches on the island, and including the Praia do Abraão (Beach of Abraham), Praia Vermelha (Red Beach), and Praia Lopes Mendes. These beaches are most frequented by visitors and also by the local residents. They have a very nice, sandy beach with fine and withe sand as well as very calm and warm waters, perfect for swimming.

Other Sights

Besides the beaches, there are many other natural attractions that tourists should visit, among them we have: the Cave of Acaiá, the Waterfall of the Witch, the Green Lagoon and also the Blue Lagoon.
The huge diversity of the sights that can be visited on the island can accommodate the desires of Ilha Grande's visitors.
From the adventurous to the laid-back people who love to enjoy a day at the beach, the programs on the island is great for all tastes and ages.

Terra natal - Ilha Grande - Ilha
Terra natal - Ilha Grande. Photo by Vinícius Theodoro

Activities for the Tourists

Among the activities that are offered to tourists on the Island are:


The trails are one of the highlights of the Big Island. The affirmation and the recognition of Ilha Grande is indisputable, as the island is one of the most exciting places in Brazil to practice trekking or hiking, which are available from levels of difficulty ranging from medium to hard.
Ilha Grande has roads and trails in the midst of the woods, running over the hills and mountains, crossing rivers and streams, swamps, plains, watching the sea, and crossing communities, creating wonderful scenarios.
There are 16 official trails, marked by plaques with information consisting of time, distance and attraction, and the visitors can plan the itineraries according to his own will, availability, and fitness. There are routes lasting half a day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or more days.
The best time to do this activity is between May and July, or October and November, because the temperature is great and there is no rain.


Corals - Ilha
Corals - Ilha Grande. Photo by Edouard Brèthes
With clean, clear waters and pleasant temperatures, the Big Island has one of the largest concentrations of shipwrecks in the world, considering that most of them are European galleons which sailed between the 16th and 19th centuries, thus because the island was the territory of battles between pirates, privateers, and the Empire.
The best dives are:
  • Wreck of the Pingino – in the Cove of Sítio Forte.
  • Wreck of Vapor Califórnia – in the Red Beach.
  • Diving in the Helicopter slab Matariz – in the Cove of Bananal.
  • Diving under rocks, cavities and crevices – in the Tip of Castellanos.


The fluctuation on the coast of the Big Island enchants all the practitioners due to the huge variety of colorful fish, corals, starfish and other marine animals that can be found during the activity. In addition the transparency in the waters facilitates the visualization of the marine creatures, making this adventure even more exciting.
The most suitable places to practice floating on the island are the Blue Lake and the Green Lake.


The surf on the Big Island is practiced in six ocean beaches of the coast: Beach of Lopes Mendes, Santo Antonio Beach, Two Rivers Beach, Parnaioca Beach, Adventurer Beach and Beach of Demo.
The Beach of Lopes Mendes is the most popular for surfing across the Big Island and is known around the world, and also plays host to local tournaments.


For the visitors who want to visit the beaches, but do not want to go by foot or by boat and, there is a great option - kayak!
The Big Island has many beaches that can be accessed in 20 or 30 minutes of rowing, and the kayak is ideal for scrolling through the coves in a quick and fun way, besides that, the tour by kayak provides totally different views of the land.

Mountain Bike

For bike lovers, the walking trails throughout the island can also be traveled by bike. The tourists will find routes varying in terms of difficulty. There are many options full of adventures and natural beauties that will enchant everyone.

Standup Paddleboarding

Paddleboat - Ilha
Paddleboat - Ilha Grande. Photo by Barbara Eckstein
Standup paddleboarding is a hybrid sport that is becoming increasingly popular around the world and it is a mix of surf and rowing which originated in Hawaii.
Standup paddleboarding is an ancient form of surfing which were favored by the instructors to monitor their students.
The practitioners must stay standing on the board, which recalls the surf, and use their hands to move, so with the standup, we can trigger all the muscles of our body simultaneously. This mix of modalities ultimately confuses pleasure with physical activity, earning a lot of fun, strong legs, strong arms, and defined abs!
It can be practiced at ocean ripples or calm waters by adults and children regardless of weight, activity level or sedentary! Standup paddleboarding has no prerequisites and much less contraindication!

Blue Lagoon - Ilha Grande - Ilha
Blue Lagoon - Ilha Grande. Photo by Senia L

Nautical Tours

With so many natural wonders to see, it is not hard to guess that marine tours is the leisure most favored by the visitors of the Big Island and preferred by those who do not want or can not accomplish activities which require major active efforts.
In all locations where the tourists can stay, there are boat trips to be undertaken in small fishing boats, speedboats, in taxi-boats or schooners.
The main routes of marine tours on the Big Island are:
Vila do Abraão - Ilha
Vila do Abraão - Ilha Grande. Photo by Lucas
  • The Witch - with visits to the beaches of the Feiticeira, the Amor and the Beach de Fora. Lasting 5 hours on average.
  • The Islands of Angra – with stops in the Blue Laggon, Beach of Abraão, the Beach of the Pigs, and the Saco do Céu. This tour lasts about 6 to 7 hours.
  • The Abraão Island – with visits to the Abraão Island, Morcego Island, and Abraãozinho, lasting 4 to 5 hours on average.
  • The Blue Lagoon – with stops in the Parish of Santana, the Parish od Japariz, and the Blue Lagoon, of course. This route lasts about 5 hours.
  • The Green Lagoon – with the visit to the Green Lagoon, the Japariz, the Feiticeira, and the Aripeba, lasting 7 hours on average.
  • The Half Round to the island – with a half round through the island with stops in the main sights like the Blue Lagoon, the Adventure Beach and the Island of Jorge Grego. This tour lasts about 7 hours.
  • The Round to the island – like the name says, this tour runs through the entire island and lasts about 10 hours.


For those who love fishing, the island also offers many activities. The most common fish found off the coast of the Big Island for recreational fishing are: Xaréu, Bonito; Garopa, Boca de Fogo; Papa-Terra, Carapicú; Cororoca, Baicuarara; Enchova, Tainha; Robalo, Pampo; Linguado, Mero; and the Corvine.
On specific dates of the year, the Sardine and Lula fishing events begin, involving both the local fishermen and tourists, becoming a well-diversified and fun activity.

 - Ilha Grande
Ilha Grande. Photo by nadif

	de Lopes Mendes - Ilha Grande
Praia de Lopes Mendes - Ilha Grande. Photo by Rogerio Zgiet

How to Get There

Those who wants to experience and witness the beauty of the Big Island can only get there by boat since the island does not have an airport. The visitors can reach the city of Angra dos Reis by plane and then catch a boat or a raft to the island.


There are several accommodation options on the island, from campgrounds to luxury hotels, the variety is great and pleasurable to all tourists. Among these options are: Pousada do Sol, Morada Aguiar Casa; Porto Abraão Pousada, Bem Natural Pousada e Camping; Recanto das Estrelas, and Sagu Mini Resort.

Vila do Abraao

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    Author: Laryssa Balduino. Last updated: Jan 21, 2015

    Pictures of Ilha Grande

    Praia de Lopes Mendes - Ilha Grande
    Praia de Lopes Mendes - Ilha Grande. Photo by Rogerio Zgiet

    Praia de Lopes Mendes - Ilha Grande
    Praia de Lopes Mendes - Ilha Grande. Photo by Rogerio Zgiet

    1233 Ilha Grande Kirche - Ilha Grande
    1233 Ilha Grande Kirche - Photo by Jörg Rausch


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