Ilha Grande (Brazil)

Ilha Grande Travel Guide and Trip Resources


Leonardo Shinagawa

Unspoilt as of yet

Ilha Grande is an island off the Brazilian coast near Rio de Janeiro
Formerly used as a prison island, there was not much tourism until the 1990s
Very light and basic tourist development, most of the island is unspoilt rainforest with some fantastic beaches here and there

Ilha Grande, a fairly large island less than 100 kilometer to the west from Rio de Janeiro, is an interesting place. Look at practically any shot taken here and you would swear you are looking at one of those utterly perfect paradise beach resorts in perhaps Thailand or the Caribbean. Surely a place like this, turquoise waters and white sand beaches and located near a megacity of 12 million people, would draw crowds and developers and its coastline will be lined with skyscrapers by now, right? Wrong.

Don't look too happy though, we are not about to let you in on one of the greatest untold secrets of the travel world. Rather, this bounty island initially used to host a leper colony and later a prison filled with the most dangerous prisoners in the entire country. Yep, so you can see why people stayed away from it for a little while. Nowadays some light development of (eco-) tourist infrastructure is encouraged and visitors have started trickling in (mostly coming over by ferry from Angra dos Reis), but as there are no roads and most of the island is a protected area it remains largely unspoilt.

Vila do Abraão is the only town of any significance and a good place to base yourself in for further exploration of Ilha Grande. You can hike around the island (note that camping is illegal in most places while accommodation is limited) to explore it's pristine Atlantic rain forest or discover its beaches. Lopes Mendes at a few hours by foot from Abraão is quiet and seen by many as one of the best beaches in the world. [Review by travelindicator]


Key info

  • Ilha Grande is a region in Brazil. It is situated at an altitude of 3255ft and the best airport to fly into is GIG (Galeao Antonio Carlos Jobim, Rio de Janeiro)
  • The main spoken language here is Portuguese, and the average English skill is low
  • The currency used in Brazil is the Brazilian real (BRL)

Ilha Grande Weather

Historical average maximum temperature per month (℉):

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
90 91 90 88 82 81 81 82 82 84 86 90

Historical average rainfall per month (inches):

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
10.9 9.4 9.3 7.5 4.3 3.1 3 3.1 4.6 5.7 6.6 10.4

More Ilha Grande travel resources

Maybe the best and only piece you need to read on Ilha Grande besides ours can be found at Urban Travel Blog. Besides them, the Guardian was here as well, as were Lonely Planet and Wikitravel.


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Rio de Janeiro, Fernando de Noronha, São Paulo, Iguaçu Falls, Fortaleza, Pantanal, Florianópolis, Recife, Brasília, Ilha Grande, Salvador, Manaus, Chapada Diamantina, Belem, Porto Alegre, Ilhabela, Vitoria, Natal, São Luís, Porto Velho, Jericoacoara [Browse all]