ilha-grande

Where?

Angra dos Reis, southwest of Rio de Janeiro.

Why now?

Meaning “creek of the kings” in Portuguese, Angra dos Reis is a mirage of 365 islands scattered off the Brazilian coast where sea views, dense forests and bohemian beach bars make island-hopping dreams come true. Among the hidden coves and sunken shipwrecks are gushing waterfalls and natural rock pools that can only be reached by following winding jungle trails. Dotted across this sandy Garden of Eden are glitzy, grand mansions housing the rich and famous with their very own private-island postcode, with some houses boasting their own helipads. But you’re not here for that. Head to Grande Beach where like-minded travellers and locals can be found on enjoying frozen acai bowls and fresh coconuts first thing, followed by grilled seafood at lunch and several Brahmas at sunset when the live bands kick off.

Most of the accommodation is fairly low-key with few garish five-star resorts. Opt to stay in a family-run pousada (guesthouse) where it’s hammocks rather than hot tubs, fresh eggs from the garden chicken coop and lengthy barbecue dinners with all the neighbours.

When to go?

Throngs of tanned, tired bodies head to the laid-back coast after a hedonistic few days at Rio Carnival in February/March.

Who to take with you?

Someone who can sip caipirinhas until dawn and not get seasick the next day.

Most likely to bump into…

Bronzed Brazilians escaping for a weekend break.

Don’t miss

The most well-known island of Ilha Grande should be high on your list. With regular ferries leaving from the Angra Dos Reis port you’ll be rewarded with deserted beaches, forest trails and emerald waters. Just 60 years ago this idyllic island housed Brazil’s answer to Alcatraz – hard to believe when the  most unruly islanders are now pesky mosquitoes. Cast yourself away to Praia de Dois Rois which is only accessible by boat and then a short swim. Getting your hair wet will be worth it when you realise you’re the only person on this pristine stretch of sand.

Essential to bring with you

The smallest bikini you own, sun scream and a snorkel – chances are you’ll swim by at least one sea turtle.

How to get there

Fly into Rio and from there it’s a two-hour drive.

 

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