Glistening in the sea, about 180km from the coast is Ilha Grande, which literally translates to ‘Big Island’. It is part of Brazil’s state, Rio de Janeiro. The island has a coastal perimeter of 130km and the island covers 193sq.km. The beaches of Ilha Grande are very famous – there are more than hundred of them!!! The seven small bays and peninsulas add to the coastal tourism charm. Some of the beast beaches of Ilha Grande are Lopes Mendes, Praia de Caxadaço, Ensenada de Abraão, Playa de Aventureiro, Laguna Verde Ilha Grande, Ensenada de Araçatiba, Dois Ríos and Praia Dos Meros.
You can find a variety of landscapes on the island and around: beaches, forests, caverns, rivers and plains. Tourists have plenty of things to do here – from adventure tours and boating to swimming and fishing. For snorkeling, head to Do Macacos Island, Blue Lagoon and Green Lagoon. Dive to ship and helicopter wrecks off the island waters.
In the Bay of Ilha Grande, there are about 350-odd small islands – sailing and cruises are great ways to explore them. You can also go sea kayaking. Fishing is another item you can indulge in – there are over 13 fishing spots for tourists. Enjoy a ride on an ‘escuna’, a traditional Brazilian boat. The three beaches of Lópes Mendes, Santo António and Aventureiro are apt for surfing.
The highest part of the island is Pico da pedra D’agua, at 1,301m. You can go for trekking and nature walks here. Biologically diverse areas on the island are great for camping. Bikes are available on rent for those who like to go mountain biking. And, most of all, if you wanna relax after a hectic vacation, then book yourself into a yoga and body massage centre. A number of beach resorts, inns and hotels are ready to accept guests. Old canning factories have been converted into beautiful inns.
Navigator André Gonçalves is credited with the modern discovery of Ilha Grande, in 1502. Having been home to more than 150 native tribes – most of them good hunters – the island and the bay is called Ipaum Guaca in the native Tupi language. The island gained much importance during the second half of the 16th century when there was a lot of movement between the Spanish part of Latin America and Europe and North America. The trading in gold and silver helped to spur it on further. Slaves were traded in by the 18th century, to work in the mines. The Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch have left their impressions on the island’s demography and lifestyle.
Standing on the eastern tip of the island is one of the oldest lighthouses in the country, called Farol Do Castelhanos. it was built in a French style in the 19th century. You can also stay there with prior permission from the authority concerned.