Go for the ecotourism, unique ecosystem, hiking, swimming, beaches, boating, off-the-beaten-path, diving and snorkeling.
Please, don't spread the word, but Ilha Grande is my favorite place in this list. I have already written plenty about Ilha Grande in a couple of my blogs, so I will keep it short this time.
Ilha Grande is a perfect getaway if you are around Rio de Janeiro, and it can be reached in about 3 hours.
The reasons I love it so much are too many to list here, but keep in mind that this is one of these simplest places in the world, where you can spend a couple of days or a couple of weeks, and still want to go back for more. Unlike Cancun, you will not find large hotel chains and resorts there, instead the island offers a great number of privately owned B&Bs and campgrounds. Likewise, do not expect to find a McDonald's in the island; instead have a fried fish on the beach, a "moqueca" at "Coqueiro Verde" and some "pastel" (small fried pies, often filled with cheese, ground meat or shrimp) at "Flutuante do Bacana", a floating bar off the Sítio Forte beach.
Although there is some public transportation to take you to the Island, the best way to visit it is by hiring yourself a captain and a boat (check out our boating packages to Ilha Grande and suggestions here). The most effective way to move around Ilha Grande is by boat (only service cars are allowed in the Island, and only in a very limited section of it), and Captain Lima knows the island like the palm of his hand.
The best thing to do in Ilha Grande is to relax, and forget about life. You can do this by enjoying the several undeveloped beaches of the island, by snorkeling with small Sergeant Majors around you, by scuba diving some of the shipwrecks, by having a drink or two at the village, or by hiking on of the many trails of the island.
Most people that visit the Island for the first time, will choose to stay at Vila do Abrahão due to all restaurants, bars, shops and beaches that are nearby; and the proximity with main port from which the ferry boat arrives and departs daily. If you are staying for a few nights, consider spending some time in a different side of the island to get to know more about its diversity and enjoy some quiet and secluded time as well.
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