Trails of Ilha Grande
So, yesterday I told you about my passion for Ilha Grande, a bit of its history and some reasons why that is a great place to visit during your next trip to Rio de Janeiro. Today I wanted to give you more details about the top trails that you will find in the island.
Recapping, there are 16 official trails that will allow the avid adventurer to go around the island, enjoy some of the most fantastic beaches, coves, mountains; and visit the historical sites, and communities that the island has to offer.
While some of the trails are easy, others will require great physical preparation, so this blog is to help you identify which trails are right for you. For trails that are not rated as "Easy", I would recommend that you hire a guide to ensure you have an uneventful adventure. Also, be mindful of the tides, specially for the stretches that are not inland.
As a last reminder, note that if you plan to do a full trip around the island, you will need to ensure a boat will help you to do the connection between the Aventureiro and the Parnaioca beaches (trails T09 and T16 - see map). The section between these two beaches are part of a biological reservation and public access is not allowed.
Before we start, look at the table below to see the distance, time and difficulty level of each one of these 16 trails.
T01 – Abrahão Circuit: Great option for your first day if you are staying or visiting the Abrahão Village (Vila do Abraão). This is a trail for the whole family and will take you Praia Preta, Praia do Galego, Poção, Aqueduto (Aqueduct) and the ruins of Lazareto.
Once in Lazareto, you can visit the ruins of what was once a hospital constructed in 1817 to treat sick sailors, crew and passengers coming from overseas, then a quarantine center to avoid the spread of pandemic diseases and finally a prison.
T02 – Aqueduto to Saco do Céu: Starting the trail at the aqueduct, a sign will point you to the trailhead. You will pass by the waterfall called Cachoeira da Feiticeira at the Feiticeira beach, then cross Praia de Fora until you reach the Saco do Céu. Saco do Céu is one of the most beautiful coves in the island; its named after its shape which resembles a sack with a small mouth, that is the main reason of its protected and calm waters. Saco do Céu is a perfect place to stop a boat, dive, snorkel and try the local gastronomy in one of the many great restaurants that you will find there.
T03 – Saco do Céu to Freguesia de Santana: Continuing to T03 northbound you will cross the Japariz beach before you reach the end of the trail at Freguesia de Santana. Although the population of Freguesia de Santana is only around 50 people, it was the first settlement in the island, back in the XVII century. A church constructed in 1843 as well as other buildings have survived the impact of time and lack of proper maintenance, and can be seen by the visitors.
T04 – Freguesia de Santana to Bananal: This trail follows the coast near Lagoa Azul, passing by two beaches, Praia de Baixo and Praia do Bananal Pequeno, until you reach the end at Bananal. Lagoa Azul is one of the most popular stops by tourist schooners and boats, due to its clear blue waters full of aquatic life. At the end of the trail is Bananal, another important community, the 3rd largest in the island, distinct from the others by the influence from a large Japanese immigration during the 50's.
T05 – Bananal to Sitio Forte: This trails also follows the coast, facing the city Angra dos Reis on the continental side, across the bay
T06 – Sitio Forte to Araçatiba: During the trails you will find a few churches and see the waterfall called Cachoeira da Longa.
T07 – Praia Grande de Araçatiba to Gruta de Acaiá: This trail takes you to the magic cave called Gruta de Acaiá. Before you reach the final destination, you will pass by the following beaches: Praia de Itaguaçu e Praia Vermelha.
T08 – Praia Grande de Araçatiba to Provetá: Trail signalization precarious in this section so the use of a guide may be adequate. There are no beaches on the way but this is the shortest way to get to Provetá, the second largest community in the Island, known for its evangelical population.
T09 – Provetá to Aventureiro: It's a short but very steep trail that requires some preparation and effort. The view at the top is nevertheless rewarding and magnificent. The Aventureiro beach is one of the top 5 beaches to visit during your stay; it is also a preferred destination for campers that enjoy solitude and a rustic feel. There is no cell phone signal there and electricity is only by generators which will shut off after 10PM. The beach is famous for its crooked coconut tree postcard.
Only a few boats are prepared to reach this beach and that is only possible on days with perfect weather, so the trail is the most certain way to get there.
T10 – Abraão to Palmas and to Pouso: This is a pretty busy trail. The 4km section to Palmas is very steep. Some people take this trail to connect with T11 and reach the Lopes Mendes beach from the Abrahão Village (a 7.2 km stretch altogether).
T11 – Pouso to Lopes Mendes: This is another busy trail which is the only terrestrial way t get to the famous beach of Lopes Mendes. Lopes Mendes has been rated to among the top beaches in Brazil and in the world. When the wind is right, it is a paradise for surfers.
T12 – Pouso to Farol dos Castelhanos: This is a very closed trail and an easy one to get lost, so getting a guide is recommended. To get to the lighthouse, you will pass by Praia do Recife, Praia e Piscina dos Castelhanos.
T13 – Abraão to Pico do Papagaio: This is a very strenuous trail that will allow you to reach the highest point of the island, the Pico do Papagaio, from the main village in the island. From there you will have a beautiful sight of the island as well as the continent. This is often rated as one of the top trails in Rio de Janeiro. This is another trail for which we recommend a guide due to precarious signalization.
T14 – Abraão to Dois Rios: That's a very wide trail, where it is just impossible to get lost. As a matter of fact, you can even ride a bycicle in this trail. On the way, stop and dive in a natural swimming hole called “Piscina do Soldado”. In Dois Rios you find a museum and be able to see what is left of a high security prison that was closed in 1993, allowing the island to prosper as a tourist destination.
T15 – Dois Rios to Caxadaço: The destination of this trail is one of the most beautiful beaches in the island. Because the trail is very closed and easy to get lost, hiring a guide may be a wise thing to do. Colloured ribbons tied to trees will show you the way to your destination.
T16 – Dois Rios to Parnaioca: Beautiful trails that runs in the Southside of the island. A guide is also recommended for this trail.
I hope this guide helps as you plan your next adventure to Ilha Grande. Do not forget to let me know if you have questions or if you would like to book a trip to Ilha Grande with us.
More blog on Ilha Grande to come! Stay tuned!