Ilhabela… as the name says: “Beautiful Island”

After so many months of preparation and planing this trip, finally the journey begins and the first stop is Ilhabela. This was the chosen island where my friends and I decided to spend a relaxing week after 4 days of non stop partying at the Tomorrowland Brazil 2015 festival. When we decided we were going to this island, I googled “Ilhabela” and thought: let’s do it! this is paradise (try it! you will be amazed).ilhabela - general

Ilhabela it’s just wonderful! It’s a very nice place to scape the bustling city of Sao Paulo, just a few hours away with car or bus. If you arrive to Brazil and have to spend some days in Sao Paolo, don’t hesitate to visit Ilhabela. The island is really green and and its climate is humid. Most of it is a National Park, which is full of waterfalls and it’s surrounded by very nice beaches. The west side of the island is where all the towns are,  and on the east side is the National Park. 

green ilhabela

When we googled “Ilhabela”… we just thought about how nice this island was, but not about the rainy season… so it happened that we had rain during almost all our stay there. Despite of it, we still could visit many parts of the island (by bus) and go to many beaches so if it happens to you too, no worries, you will be still able to see and enjoy most of it!

The North Part of the Island

Above from the “balsa” (ferry boat) is the North part. Here you might find the main town “La Vila” with most of the shops and restaurants. The beaches of this side are not as wonderful as the ones on the south, but they also have their charm. Praia do Jabaquara is the best one. To get there you will need to walk for a while after the bus end stop. If you feel like doing some trekking, you can go up to the “Pico do Baepi” which is a little bit hard, but the views are stunning. Once you are up there, you can walk a little bit more, and visit the “Cachoeira do Bananal“… if you still have energies!!

On the North side of the island is where most part of the accommodation options are. We chose “Pousada Perequé” (around 110 R$ per person), which is located between the ferry boat port and “La Vila”, 2 minutes walking from the Perequé beach. I highly recommend this pousada: is very good located, super clean, comfortable, has a pool and last but not least: it offers the best breakfast ever with home made cakes, a variety of tropical fruits, fresh juices, and fresh pastry (breakfast in price included!).

pousada pereque

La Vila has a few restaurants where you can have a nice dinner after spending the day @ the beach, or after doing some waterfall trekking: Copacabana beer, which is located in the Rua do Meio. This is a nice restaurant that offer from pizza to very good seafood. For lunch they offer everyday  a different dish for 25 R$ + drink (great deal!). Next to this restaurant, in the corner you will find Brasilierinho, which has kind of the same menu and similar prices. If it happened that you are in the city center for lunch, there is a nice restaurant that offers “home made” food: Cheiro Verde. They have 4 or 5 different daily dishes, and they are all 20 R$ + drinks. This is a place where locals go and the food is really tasty. If you prefer hamburgers, and you are still in the center, go to Borrachudo Sanduicheria: they offer a full range of burgers, even with shrimps! They are not bad, but they are not the best ones of the island, and they are a little bit pricey. You will find the best burgers @ Hell’s Burgers. This is a truck that only opens @ night and is located next to the Perequé beach, in Rua Armando da Silva Pinto. They offer a nice selection of hamburgers with different sauces and ingredientes, definitely the best burgers in the island!

For lunch if you are @ the beach, you can have nice seafood at the beach bars, but in the rainy season, they were all closed 🙁

The South Part of the Island

When heading south, after passing the ferry port, begins the “South” part of the island. Here you might find really nice beaches starting with the “Ilha das Cabras” beach, across the Cabras island. In this beach you can go snorkelling and swimming to the island, which is very close! Also “Praia Grande” and “Praia do Corral” are on this side of the island. These beaches are all reachable with the bus from the Ferry Port bus stop. The best beach on this side of Ilhabela is “Praia do Bonete” (ranked in the Top 10 beaches of Brazil by The Guardian). To get here you have to walk from Borrifos around 13 Km or take a boat. If instead of the beach you prefer to do some trekking, here are also the following waterfalls which are reachable with the local bus: “Cachoeira das 3 Tombos” and “Cachoeira do Veloso“. Both are really nice and really worth visiting.

cachoeiras ihlabela

The East Side of the Island

On this side of the island, you will find the “Praia dos Castelhanos” beach, which is beautiful even when it rains! To get here you will cross the island with a 4×4 through the jungle. It’s really worth visiting this area and doing the day trip! Once on the beach, there are a couple of trails which are very good. One takes you up to the “Cachoeira do Gato“, which supposed to be the best waterfall from the island, and I have to say it’s really impressive. There is also another trail, that it takes only 10 minutes and is on the opposite side of the beach, from where you can appreciate Praia dos Castelhanos from above. I was supposed to do this one too, but a big storm arrived, and we had to leave. On the beach there are bars where you can get nice food and drinks.

praia dos castelhanos

Getting around

When you arrive with the “balsa” to the island (which is free of charge for pedestrians, and leaves every 30 minutes from São Sebastiãn)  you have 2 buses lines (3,40 R$ per ride): one goes north (until La Vila, or Pontas das Canas) and the other south (until Borrifos), which makes it very easy to move around without a car. To be able to cross the National Park and visit the stunning beach Praia dos Castelhanos you will have to get a 4×4 tour. They charge between 60 and 90 R$ per person (depending on the season and how good you are bargaining!!!) and you can spend the hole day there. They offer this tours everywhere, even in the Pousadas.

On the North part of the island, you will find a long bike lane starting @ the port. You can rent a bike near Praia Perequé (from 40 R$ for the hole day) to move around. Going by bike to the south part it’s a little bit dangerous because there is no bike lane!!!

Useful Information:

Brazilian Real exchange rate today (15/07/2015):

  • 3,13 R$ =  1 USD
  • 3,43 R$ = 1 EUR

Some words in Portuguese that might be useful during your stay in Ilhabela, as well as the map of the island!

  • balsa: ferry boat
  • ilha: island
  • rua: street
  • praia: beach
  • cachoeira: waterfall
  • trilha: trail
  • pousada: hotel
  • cafe d’amanhã: breakfast
  • ônibus: bus