Ilha Grande and Paraty. And How to get there

Ilha Grande and Paraty. And How to get there

Both Ilha Grande and Paraty are beautiful destinations that you should try to visit from Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo.


Ilha Grande

Ilha Grande and Paraty. And How to get there


Ilha Grande is a forested and mountainous island with beautiful beaches. It is relatively undeveloped (no banks) and all the restaurants and hotels are small and locally run. It is the perfect place to relax after Rio and we spent the first few days lying on the beach, drinking caipirinhas and watching spectacular views over the water and mainland beyond.

views on Ilha Grande, Brazil


Besides laying at the beach, a highlight on Ilha Grande is hiking – depending which hike you go on.

Abraao to Lopes Mendes beach: A great hike, up and down with some nice views of the island and the coast from vantage points, you come across some other bays and beaches along the way. It’s about a 4hr hike (return). Lots of beautiful scenery. We really loved this hike.

Sea views Ilha Grande, Brazil

Abraao to Dos Rios
. The owner of our hotel had told us about a “spectacular hike” to the “most beautiful beach on Ilha Grande”. The next day we hiked along the only road on the island, a 2hr long hike on gravel, to the town of Dos Rios. We arrived at the beach below.

Dos Rios, Ilha Grande, Brazil


Dos Rios used to house a prison holding some of the most violent of Brazil’s criminals. Now it is a mini, almost spooky, ghost town. We had been told by our hotel owner that we could take the boat back to Abraao. We waited at the beach for the boat but none came. We asked a passerby (about the only other person we saw on the beach) about the boat and he kind of looked out at sea, shrugged, and said the boat should come soon. He had that same indifference that every Brazilian we encountered seemed to have. We waited another half hour before deciding to walk back. Walking out of Dos Rios we saw two guards standing around. I asked them about the boat. They looked at each other and started laughing. We walked the 2 hrs back to Abraao. Honestly? It’s a hike worth skipping.

Overall, Ilha Grande is a scenic island with some great restaurant options. Recommended – it was to be the highlight of our stay in Brazil.


Practical Information

Accommodation: We stayed at Pousada Naturalia. Very well run by a friendly Vietnamese man. Just kind of ignore him when he recommends that hike to Dos Rios.

Getting there: It takes 3 hours to get from Rio to Angra do Reis by bus (see the Costa Verde website. There are about 10 buses a day) then another 1.5 hours by ferry across to Abraao on the island. The best ferry to Abraao is with CCR Barcas which leaves at 3:30 pm Monday-Friday and 1:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday (see here). Note: From Sao Paulo, it takes about 7 hrs by bus to Angra do Reis.

Tours: This Full-Day tour from Rio is on a fast boat and covers all the highlights of Ilha Grande (saves you having to organize your own transport). If you want to spend several days in Ilha Grande as we did, this shuttle service takes you there from Rio.

cruising in Ilha Grande, Brazil





Ilha Grande and Paraty. And How to get there
You can feel the history in this town. I don’t italicize lightly; Lissette didn’t like the feel of this town. She at one point told me “There are a lot of ghosts here” which was the first time I’ve ever heard her say anything that I would suspect a crazy person would say. Paraty was founded in 1696 and prospered in the 1700s when gold was discovered. They at that time built all the colonial buildings, churches, and cobblestone streets still standing today. Slaves built a 1200km road to the mines (called the “Gold trail”). I find it funny when browsing websites how little is mentioned about slavery in Paraty. It was obviously a huge part of the town’s history. In fact the town basically died in 1888 when slavery was abolished.

Ilha Grande and Paraty. And How to get there

Above, at bottom right: Igreja do Rosário, built in 1725 (the slave’s church). It is kind of spooky-looking isn’t it?


A popular thing to do in Paraty is to take a boat cruise. Its a great way to see the coastline and do some swimming.

images of Paraty, Brazil

I think I liked the town more than Lissette. She still thought it was creepy. Paraty has a small-town atmosphere, colonial architecture, and some nice restaurants. Again, the geographical setting is gorgeous. Just a beautiful area and we recommend a visit to both Ilha Grande and Paraty.


Practical Information

Accommodation: Pousada Maravilha. Very clean, good location…recommended.

Getting there: Regular buses if coming from Rio (see Costa Verde website). If coming from Ilha Grande, either 1) take the ferry to the mainland and take the Colitur bus (lots of buses, see here) OR take a speed boat directly from Abraao to Paraty (costs 250 R, takes 90 minutes).

Tour: If you want someone to handle the transport for you, this transfer service takes you from Rio (from your hotel or the airport) to Paraty.

Getting there: Rio – Paraty by bus is approx 4 1/2 hours.

map of paraty and ilha grande, brazil


Related: Why we didn’t like Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Related: Brazil – Where to Go and What to Do


Have you been to Ilha Grande or Paraty? Would love to hear your experiences!

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Ilha Grande and Paraty. And How to get there
Ilha Grande and Paraty. And How to get there
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  1. Hi Frank,
    I just would like to ask you a question,
    Which language did you use to talk with Brazilian people when you were there?
    You keep making a statement all the time how Brazilian were indifferent with you when you tried to ask them something… it didn’t occur to you that the problem could be because of the language barriers, most of Brazilian don’t understand English or Spanish , about the two guards ,too me it was one looking at each other and thinking , what he said?!!! Do not expect that simple people will understand you . That’s the mistake number one, talking in Spanish with us, our language is Portuguese.
    I sent you a comment on the post you did about Brazil , but I can’t see it there, I don’t know if you got it.

    1. Hi Lara,
      Thanks for having let me know about the other comment – I saw this one fine, but the other was in my spam box.
      We spoke Spanish and the word for boat in Spanish and Portuguese the same (barco). Plus I’m pointing out at the sea while I’m saying this while also indicating my watch. If they didn’t understand any of that they must have been the stupidest bunch of dumbasses in the world. No Lara, they understood – they just didn’t care to give us a second of their time.
      Like I said in my reply to your other comment, where there’s a will there’s a way. We’ve travelled the world full-time the last 3 years, mostly in places where people don’t speak English. Somehow we’ve been able to get by, but that’s mostly because people give you a chance and are patient with your hand gestures or poor pronunciation of words. We’ve met some fantastic people who were super friendly and who we still think of, even if we didn’t speak a word of each other’s language. Smiling is universal and is usually what will get you by in any situation.
      In Brazil that didn’t work, neither did trying to speak slowly in a very similar language. But if you say “that’s the mistake number one, talking in Spanish with us, our language is Portuguese” then that says a lot about the mentality.

      1. I am spanish spearker, and im right now exploring a little part of the huge Brazil. People have been nice, easygoing and quite helpful. I suppose sometimes is just a matter of luck. Let you know if things change.

  2. Nice pics of Paraty! Its a pity you didn’t enjoy it much. True that some cities like this one can be a bit heavy. During my Brazil trip, I tried to visit Paraty, but didn’t have enough time so I end up not going. Next time.. hug from Marrakesh!

    1. Thank you for your comment. But I have to admit that, like all of Brazil that we saw, that it was scenic. We might not have loved Brazil but it IS a beautiful country.

    1. I should start charging for this self-promotion :). But in this case I think it is of value to readers – we actually DID just this and saved a lot of time getting to Paraty from Ilha Grande. So thanks for bringing something up which I should have mentioned in the post.

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