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The Beaches

Though nearly all the beaches on Ilha Grande are beautiful, a few are simply spectacular. One of these is Lopes Mendes, facing the ocean on the eastern tip of the island. Considered the prettiest beach in the island, this long stretch of strand is unspoiled by any development, and features fine soft sand, clear clean water, and excellent surfing waves. You can walk to Lopes Mendes from Abraão (about 2 1/2 hr.) but most people catch a boat to the anchorage at Pouso, from which it's an easy 20-minute walk up and over a low ridge.

Dois Rios beach also lies on the open ocean side of the island. The ruins of Ilha Grande's Candido Mendes Prison, deactivated and destroyed in 1994, still stand at the southern end of the beach. Beach and prison are reached via a broad trail (a former road, in fact) from Abraão. The hike takes about 2 1/2 hours, and is of medium level difficulty.

On the island's western end, the beaches of Aventureiro, Praia Sul, and Praia Leste slope gently out to sea, making for lots of shallows with only gentle surf. The beaches are reached via schooner to Aventureiro, after which you walk along the shoreline to Praia Sul and Praia Lest. Aventureiro has a small restaurant where you can relax and have lunch.

Though not strictly a beach, Lagoa Azul is a delightful area of shallows and small islands near the north (landward) tip of the island. Its calm waters and extreme visibility make it a great place to snorkel. The Blue Lagoon is reached via boat, a 40-minute trip from Abraão.

The Hiking Trails

The classic Ilha Grande hike goes from Abraão up to Pico de Papagaio (Parrot Peak), so-called because the mountain supposedly looks like a parrot's head. The trail is rough but reasonably well-marked, and covers 11km (7 miles) and gains 1,080m (3,543 ft.) in altitude. If you know how to hike, there's no need for a guide, but services are available. Round-trip takes about 10 hours. There are several excellent lookout spots on the way up. The view from the peak is marvelous. Less intense hikes go from Abraão to Lopes Mendes beach (about 2 hr. one-way, easy), from Abraão to Dois Rios beach and the old prison (about 2 hr. one-way, medium). From Praia Vermelha on the island's western end you can also hike to Provetá beach (2 hr., medium) and from there to Aventureiro beach on the seaward coast (1 1/2 hr., medium). Easiest and arguably best of all, the hike from Abraão to the 15m-high (49-ft.) Cachoeira da Feiticeira waterfall requires no great effort, and provides a tremendous reward (1 1/2 hr., easy).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.