ihla grande brazil

White Sands and Giant Snails – Ilha Grande, Brazil

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Top Backpacking Destinations Ranking: 8.5/10

ihla grande brazil

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.

This is a very special place with simple pleasures and the perfect escape from the busy Brazilian cities. It’s no surprise that so many locals choose to spend their holidays here – you should too.

If you’ve been lucky enough to visit Ilha Grande let me know your experiences in the comments or check out some of the other fantastic places to go backpacking in South America here.

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4 replies
  1. Miss G
    Miss G says:

    I love Ilha Grande too – the 17 secluded bays and squeaky white sands of Lopez Mendes. I got stranded there for several days as it was a Brazilian bank holiday and the boats were filled with locals heading over to party – it's not the worst place to get stuck though! Other island paradises I've visited – Yasawa Islands Fiji and Ko Lanta Thailand. High on the wishlist – anything in the Phillipines!!!

    Reply
  2. jo.crowley
    jo.crowley says:

    I visited Ilha Grande back in 2006 during a 4 month stay in Brazil. It was beautiful and brilliant fun but the day we headed to Lopez Mendes wasn't great, it was very overcast and quite windy. Also, unbeknownst to us there can be quite a rip in the tide at the beach and a few of us, myself included, managed to get into a bit of trouble in the sea – so be wary!

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  3. Gideon Hart
    Gideon Hart says:

    Hi – Yes – I too was caught in a rip tide on Lopez Mendez beach. If it wasnt for the Brazilian Lifeguard who fished me out I would have been drowned. Was weird…one minute really calm water, the next, I was in a washing machine – never experienced anything like it, and couldnt get out of it. Beware!

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