The best hiking trails on Ilha Grande

Ilha Grande is often described as Brazil’s paradise on earth. Gorgeous beaches and virgin Atlantic forest make this the ideal place to unwind for a couple of days after hectic Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo. The main village of Vila do Abraão is where most people stay, but a few kilometers inland, you have the whole island to yourself!

There are 16 well-indicated trails spread all over the island, so wherever you stay you’re likely to find a trail nearby.  Put on your hiking boots and join me!

hiking Ilha Grande

1/ Vila de Dois Rios
Start: in front of the main pier of Vila do Abraão, next to the Policia Militar
Distance: 8.3 km one way
Time: 2h30 one way
Level: easy to moderate

This well-indicated trail leads to Dois Rios, the name of a nearly abandoned village (Dois Rios served as a prison during the military regime and is only inhabited by a few former inmates and prison guards) The nearby beach is the place where two rivers flow into the open sea. Anybody with a decent level of fitness can walk the trail, but the humidity and/or heat can make it challenging at times, especially on the way back. The first part of the walk is gradually uphill, followed by a descent towards the beach.
During the entire walk, I was accompanied by the the buzzing sounds of the jungle, but apart from a selection of birds and insects, I didn’t come across anything even remotely frightening. It took me a bit more than 2 hours to reach the village.
Make sure to have a quick look at the “Piscina dos Soldados”, a bathing hole where soldiers used to come and bath on their way to the prison.

2/ Praia Abraãozinho
Start: at the eastern end of the beach of Vila do Abraão
Distance: 1km one way
Time: 25 min one way
Level: easy to moderate

An ideal introduction on your first day in Ilha Grande! The path can be a bit muddy after rainfall, there are a few boulders to climb over and you might have to wade through the water at high tide, but nothing strenuous. Ideal if you like short walks and beautiful beaches! Upon my arrival at Abraãozinho, I had the place nearly to myself! On your way back, don’t forget to stop at one of the beach bars for a refreshing ice-cold beer!

3/ Lopes Mendes
Start: at the eastern end of the beach in Vila do Abraão
Distance: 8.5 km
Time: 2h30-3h
Level: easy to moderate

The most popular trail on Ilha Grande. Or so I was told… If I saw ten people during my walk, it was a lot, but the weather wasn’t the best, I assume on sunnier days it tends to be busier.
The walk is divided into two trails. The first one goes from Vila do Abraão to Praia de Palmas and Praia de Manguas, two gorgeous beaches, that I might actually even prefer to Lopes Mendes beach itself!
The trail goes up and down the jungle-clad mountains, accompanied by the cries of the howler monkeys further up the trees.
From Praia de Manguas it takes another easy 20 minutes to Lopes Mendes.
You can take a boat back from Praia de Manguas to Vila do Abraão (or walk back if you still have enough energy)

4/ Circuito do Abrãao
Start: at the western end of the beach in Vila do Abraão
Distance: 1.5 km – circular walk
Time:1 hour
Level: easy

One of the shortest walks on Ilha Grande, this trail takes you along a few nice beaches and to the ruins of a former prison. (not much to see nowadays) It’s a circular walk, offering you a few nice views of the coast. Halfway you arrive at the aquaduct, right next to the natural swimming hole of Cachoeira dos Escravos, a perfect spot for a quick dip.

Have you been to Ilha Grande? Or maybe a similar island famous for its hiking trails? Would love to hear it in the comments!

8 Replies to “The best hiking trails on Ilha Grande”

  1. Sophie

    Oh wow – what beautiful walks! Looks very different to the view outside my window right now! I think i’d like the Vila de Dois Rios walk the best!

  2. Lavina

    Havn’t been myself but a couple of years ago, my friends were on a student exchange tour to Brazil and they couldn’t stop talking about it 🙂 I’ll make sure to ask them about some hiking trails for sure! 🙂

  3. Jo

    I love to hike. Never been to ilha grande but it looks beautiful. I guess I did a similar hike in Koh rong – beach, jungles, waterfalls – the works – Even in Philippines and Thailand.


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