White Sands and Giant Snails – Ilha Grande, Brazil

Top Backpacking Destinations Ranking: 8.5/10

I’ve written a lot about backpacking in paradise islands in recent weeks and this is another one. Ilha Grande is a perfect place to get away from the stresses of the city and top up your tan. It’s a few hours south of Rio and after some time living the hectic city life it’s a real breath of fresh air.

Ilha Grande is characterised by beautiful white sands, crystal clear water and laid back island life. It’s a relatively short bus journey (for South America!) and then a quick boat ride to get there from Rio and once arrived all you have to do is put your feet up, order a caipirinha and soak up the sun. Come nightfall you can entertain yourself with the armies of giant snails and crabs that come out to play under the cover of darkness!

There are various tours you can do during your stay which are all based around visits to other parts of the island in a boat whilst throwing some snorkelling in there for good measure. One of the most popular trips is to Lopes Mendes beach, famous across Brazil and a site to behold. This is the plum spot on the island and if you’re feeling energetic (and a bit thrifty) you can hike there in a couple of hours which will likely lead to you discovering hidden beauties along the way.

Stand in awe of the traditional villages built into and along the sides of the mountains, mingle with the locals like nowhere else and step back in time to listen to the sounds of the lively villages from amongst the mud huts scattered across massive cliff faces – it’s a feeling like no other in this special part of the world.