Two hours from Rio de Janeiro, off the coast of Angra Dos Reis, Ilha Grande makes for a spacious retreat for two or an epic group vacation. The private island’s six-bedroom house comes with kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, plus a staff ready to whip up caipirinhas at all hours of the day.
By Sarah Purkrabek, AFAR Contributor
A hidden gem
I was looking to do a yoga retreat and found an incredible program that is on the island of Ilha Grande in Brazil. It takes about 3 hours to get to from Rio and is absolutely amazing. I spent a week on the island doing yoga, hiking, swimming and just enjoying being in nature. The program is called The Island Experience and it truly is one of the best experiences I have had. There are not any roads on the island, you get everywhere by boat, hiking or swimming!
While on the island of Ilha Grande we would wake up and do yoga everyday before breakfast and also do yoga before dinner. It was a great way to start and end the day. The first day we did yoga we were welcomed with rose petals on our mats. I have great memories of this space as it overlooked the water and while practicing you could hear the sounds of the waves crashing.
monkeys and butterflies
The island of Ilha Grande has some amazing wildlife. I saw monkeys and some of the most beautiful butterflies I have ever seen.
On top of the world
The island of Ilha Grande has some of the most beautiful hikes I have been on. The island is a rainforest so the trails are mostly covered and you see a wide variety of trees, plants, animals, etc. One day we did a pretty strenuous hike to Mirante do Bananal...it was a pretty steep incline to make it to the top but as soon as we arrived we all felt it was well worth the trek. It was like we were on top of the world. The views were spectacular and I loved the various cloud formations.
Bonito Brazilian Beans
Half way up a mountain on Ilha Grande our trail led us through a coffee plantation from the last century. The remaining bushes were being harvested by an islander who was happy to show us the fruits of his hard labour, gathered in the heat and humidity of the rainforest. Our adventure spa is a detox week and therefore coffee free! But it was so interesting to see the beans or 'grão de café' in their natural form and it was a first for many of the group.
I want to break free... I want to break free...
If Shawshank Redemption took place in South America, this is where Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman would meet up at the end. Ilha Grande makes Zihuatanejo look like Coney Island. There is simply no better place to get busy living than here. When you first go to Rio, you will hear suggestions of places to go and things to do such as COPACABANA, CORCOVADO, IPANEMA, SAMBA, MULATA, CARNAVAL... But head for ILHA GRANDE, which very few people know about, but is certainly one of the things that makes it so special. There are no roads and no cars. Instead, there is only a ferry from Angra Dos Reis and a few hiking trails to take you to the most secluded and seductive beaches you will ever see. And I promise you, when you do arrive, it will be the best tasting caipirinha you'll have in all of Brazil.
Av. Vereador Benedito Adelino, 3185 - Praia Grande, Angra dos Reis - RJ, 23900-000, Brazil