I had believed the massive grey shape across the bay on the horizon to be the mainland, but no, it turned out to be my next destination.
Ilha Grande, aptly named as this island is huge, is mostly an untouched paradise just south of Rio de Janeiro, next to Angra dos Reis.
After docking the ferry at Vila Abraão, pop 6,000, we were greeted by six sandy streets of tourist shops, restaurants, pousadas and bars to choose from. This is the only real village on the island and the main hub of activity.
I grabbed my backpack and walked onwards, asking along the way how to get to my pousada. It turned out to be both awesome and quaint.
A hammock at the front, which you can sit in and read, while small monkeys play in the trees above. The pousada host was friendly, if not a little deaf, so he didn’t quite understand every question, but happily responded to whichever question he thought he heard.
The place was charming. The only downside to pousadas are that they are not as easy to meet other people as at the youth hostels, but then again, you do get your own room, and no one tries to have sex in the bunk above while you sleep. Hehe. Ahhh hostel life…
The island has an interesting history, and was once a leper colony, and also contained a number of prisons. Oh to be trapped in paradise! The unsavory past has helped it’s future though, as the island remained largely undeveloped.
While on Ilha Grande, which is as close to a natural ecosystem that you can still access, there’s plenty to do. Schooner trips, diving, surfing, hiking along the many trails, and bathing in the waterfalls just to name a few…
This island should definitely be added to anyone’s Brazil travel itinerary without hesitation.
The boat never really leaves when it’s meant to. If the opportunity for more passengers and money presents itself, then the crew eagerly take it.
Soon we have enough for a respectable departure, and we set off amidst cloudy uncertainty in the weather.
But 20 minutes into the cruise, or ‘passeio’, the sky gives up its fight with the sun, and lets it stream down around us.
Suddenly we stop, drop anchor, and it’s time for a snorkel while hordes of fish of all descriptions surge around the swimmers.
João picks up his guitar, and starts singing slow Brazilian tunes for the rest of the passengers as we dry off and head to the next lagoon or ‘praia’ (beach).
At the end of the day, after numerous stops around paradise and a fantastic seafood lunch, the schooner makes its way back to the picturesque port of colonial Paraty.
We dock, and all too soon, the day spent adrift is anchored back to reality once more.