At the end of my recent trip to Brazil, my family and I spent two days on an island called Ilha Grande. Ilha Grande is reachable only by boat (ferries to Ilha Grande leave from the town of Angra, about an hour-and-a-half from Rio) and there are no motorized vehicles allowed on the island.
Lots of boats. No cars.
Ilha Grande is known for its unspoiled natural beauty and we were expecting a deserted island kind of vibe. But we happened to visit during the week between Christmas and New Years, which I’m guessing is the busiest week of the year on Ilha Grande. The island was crowded, especially in the main settlement of Vila do Abraão where we stayed. So our time on Ilha Grande was more about people-watching (and animal-watching), eating, and drinking than it was about laying on deserted beaches.
The church in Vila do Abraão.
This was the most delicious platter of seafood I’ve ever eaten. Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the restaurant where we ate it.
A man making caipirinhas on a Vila do Abraão side street. That’s my sister in the shadows, petting one of Ilha Grande’s ubiquitous dogs.
Holiday-makers. My favorite Instagram from the trip to Brazil.
If you’re planning a visit to Ilha Grande, I recommend going for at least two full days to allow time to check out different beaches on the island. We didn’t have time to venture very far from Vila do Abraão but we heard that the beaches on the other side of the island (reachable on foot or via water taxi) are stunning.
Also note that there are no ATM machines on Ilha Grande. And while I’m on the topic, my mother, sister, I all had serious problems using our ATM cards in Brazil. I’ve used my American ATM card successfully in many obscure places around the world, but the card was basically useless in Brazil. Maybe we were particularly unlucky but I recommend bringing cash to Brazil just in case.
But who needs cash when you can look at a view like this for free?