Ilha Grande is a tiny little island south of Rio that doesn’t have any roads nor any big cities. It’s quite the opposite to loud and busy São Paulo and that’s where I wanted to take my friend who visited me from Germany. By the way I’m the crazy smalI one on the right.
We’ve known each other since kindergarten and it felt like having family around. I knew she would like the island life and off we set catching our night bus from the bus terminal in São Paulo.
I was so tired I accidentally ordered an overpriced “UBER select” and we arrived at the dodgy bus station in a fancy black car. We grabbed our backpacks, passed street vendors and beggars. The air was filled with the smell of burnt meat and coal.
Terminal Tiête was packed with people. It was a public holiday and it seemed like nearly everyone from São Paulo wanted to travel somewhere. The queues to retrieve our bus tickets were loooong and we waited for ages.
Cauê, one of my best friends from São Paulo was joining us on or trip. He hadn’t arrived yet and I got a bit worried as the time passed and the queues grew longer and longer. I texted him. He was not worried at all. He is Brazilian.
Lucky him he got some German friends who were about to sneak out his bus ticket.
After endless hours and hours of waiting in line (I am exaggerating here, but it was boring as hell) it was finally our turn. I showed my passport and my reservation to the dude at the counter and got my bus ticket.
I didn’t know which time Cauê’s bus was about to leave, neither did I have his ticket number or passport, but I kind of had a feeling that it would work out for me to get his- as long a sI wouldn’t question that it might not.
I looked the dude in the eyes and said with 100% certainty that I needed another ticket, told him the name of my friend and gave him two different bus times to choose from. His eyes were flinching and he looked sceptical. I had learned to ignore any upcoming discomfort and looked him straight in the eyes without saying anything and waited.
This has been working so many times and it did again that day. He looked at the queue behind me, through the piles of names he had on the table in front of him after, and then handed me Cauê’s bus ticket without asking any further questions.
I grinned, 15 Minutes later my friend arrived and we got on our busses on time.
6 hours to go. I fell asleep immediately and woke up in Angra dos Reis.
HOW TO GET THERE
Take a night bus from São Paulo (5-7 hours) or any other city (Rio 3-4 hrs) to Angra dos Reis. This way you can save a night in a hotel and wake up where you want to be. From Angra dos Reis you have three main options: Take a ferry, a speed boat or a schooner. If you happen to have to have time, I would go by schooner and enjoy a caipirinha on the ride. It only leaves at 2.30pm once a day (except for the weekends though). Below is a list with the pro and cons of each ride. If you book a “Pousada”, which is a privately rented house, the owners most likely pick you up at the harbour for free. Sometimes they even show you around. Nice option for families. The main area on Ilha Grande is a little town called Vila do Abraão, which has a view restaurants, bars and is a good starting point for any hike. You can also get taxi boats for 25-50 R$ per ride to go to various beaches. Plus there are a lot of tours that include heading to many blue lagoons and some tiny waterfalls. I personally think it’s a good option to stay at that little town and move around from there.
We chose a fast boat to reach the island. My friend Cauê hadn’t booked a room yet, but didn’t worry. He is Brazilian and of course it would work out.
It did, as he got the last dorm bed in our hostel.
We packed out our stuff, had a quick shower and I found my friends talking to new people. This was awesome as I could stay in the “nope- no people- not interacting with anyone today” mood for a bit longer.
That’s great about friends. You can let them socialise and then jump in at some point later. Two friends – even better!
So I went on being unsocial and spotted another dude sitting at a table with a laptop. He looked grumpy and I liked him. I guessed he would have a lot of friends to socialise for him.
He did and we all ended up spending a bit of life together on this tiny little island. We went hiking, had some drinks together and had a lot of fun.
WHAT TO DO
There are SO many things to do on Ilha Grande, even the second time I’ve travelled there it was just not enough! There are boat tours you can take, drink Caipirinha and visit some blue lagoons. You basically have a whole day trip with food and drinks included and you can just hang out with your friends and have a good time. I did not include it in this post, because I actually was too lazy to look through old footage and set up the pictures, but I might do as soon as I am not that much on a move anymore. Which can get quite exhausting to balance writing blog articles and setting up video footage without missing to on my social life here in Brazil. But hey, I will try (and probably won’t).
Oh! I just remember, I did a video last year about this island. I’ll post it at the end of the article until I’m done with the new one!
MOVE YA ASS AND GO HIKING!
Go on hikes around the island. Though… trust me! They are EXHAUSTING and you will sweat to death!
But once you’re up there, the view is just breathtaking!
Also the view of my beautiful charming face is quite breathtaking here.
EAT OUT AT “ATELIE” CAFE
If you want to hang out at the beach and enjoy really good, fresh food, you should go to Atelie cafe. It’s located at the second pier and offers a wide range of heathy huge meals to snack on all day, green juices and delicious desserts. We ended up spending every single day there!
This place is amazing! It not only has heaps of vegan options (including a HummmmmmmmmmMmmmmmus to die for), but als some nice burgers and great cocktails you should try out.
Just go there, have some great food and hang out at the beach forever!
CLIMB UP PICO DO PAPAGAIO FOR SUNRISE
It’s a hard one! You basically walk up through a steep forest with spiders (including tarantulas) at night for 3-4 hours. But- trust me- it’s worth it! Will write a longer article about that soon.
Make sure to book with “George from the Jungle”, he’s fast but funny.
Damn! Seriously! I’ve been lucky with those birds and my drone. The problem here is that they are really curious about what “visitor” is flying around in their home, meaning that around 20-30 birds will storm the drone and check it out. They are not attacking it, they’re curious. A drone doesn’t really flow through the air and intuitively move out of the way a bird would do. Every time I fly it up and birds are coming I have to keep that in mind, so I don’t crash into a bird. What I do is, I let it hover and let the birds say “hello”!. Sounds weird, but they kind of see its not alive and you can move around with the drone easier.
(For the drone pilots: doe snot work with the big birds as hawks or falcons. See them – get your drone down. The small ones make great pictures though!)
HANG OUT AT THE BEACH
… and do nothing! You’re on an island, you better hang out a lot at the beach!
And that is the BEST! Just check out this place. It’s a strawberry bar with strawberry tables, strawberry chairs, strawberry walls, strawberry drinks and even strawberry bathrooms. (And yes I copy pasted the word “strawberry”). Go there, have a strawberry caipirinha (Damn yes! This exists!!) and do absolutely nothing.
Well … you kind of have to hike there for over 2 hours to be totally sweaty, exhausted and dehydrated … and want to look like those dudes below.
Check your location on Maps.me and hike towards some waterfalls and natural ponds you can swim in. The good ones are up on the mountain, so prepare to hike through the jungle. Take some snacks and chill out up there, you might not want to leave any time soon.
Below is a video from last year when I stayed in a “Pousada” and was traveling “the Brazilian way”. the backpacker version will come soon in a few weeks.
I will go back soon for the third time in a few weeks and can only recommend it.
What did you like the most on Ilha Grande?