ilha grande

In Braaaazil, Rio de Janeiro, Sud America, travelling on November 12, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Ilha grande is an island resort, about 3 hrs, drive and ferry away from Rio. I don’t get the chance to go down to the beaches around Paraty, or Florianopolis, so I make the break and decide to head to Ilha Grande, to meet up with a friend that I met in Buenos Aires. I leave the bike and most of my belongings behind, and get whisked down to the island in a car driven by a man who likes to drive very very quickly…


Arrive, its glorious weather, hot and bright, and the wait for the ferry is languid and relaxing, lying back on the dock, as a group of brazilian guys, joke amongst themselves, their luggage consists of a couple of duffel bags, and a couple of cases of beer. They drink most of it on the ferry ride over.

Walk along the beach to the hostel, feet digging into the sand, bag on my shoulder. Look around at the long crescent of the beach. The island has a festival on and the locals are out in force for it.

Meet up with Eugene, a friend I met in Buenos Aires, after sitting around taking in the view from the dock/patio that sits out over the rocks at the water’s edge.  We head into town and eat pizza as the locals get liquoured up, its nice to see drunk Brazilians on holiday, loudly carousing, even though I’m a tourist its nice not to feel like one, just another body on the island, surrounded by locals having a good time.


It rains on and off all day. This isn’t what I signed up for. It isn’t fun. To get to the majority of the beaches on Ilha Grande, you have to either hike for a couple of hours, or get a boat round to them. Eugene’s a hiker so we decide to hike to the closest (relative) beach which is two hours away. I’m not one for hiking/walking, don’t get me wrong I’ve always enjoyed walking around, of getting to know a place by foot. But I’m a biker now, pure and simple and the pace of walking now feels too damn slow. But I’m up for a challenge so follow Eugene’s lead, bitching and moaning every so often.

The rain relents, starts again, stops again, as we walk along the coastline, up into the hills, and down through the forest. Its quiet except for our breath, occasional swear word from me and the digital whirr and click of camera’s taking shots. Even with the grey day upon us, the views from on high are magnificent, gloriously wide open panorama’s of sky and sea.

As we make the final ascent and descent to the beach, Brazilians are appearing in their droves, leaving the beach as the rain comes down heavier. The slippery conditions making walking both uphill and downhill treacherous. There’s alot of squealing and shrieking as tourists unprepared for the rain slip and slide, whilst trying to navigate the slick path.

The beach is wide and long, and spectacularly deserted apart from the clumps of people sheltering in the trees at beaches edge. Eugene hits the surf straight away and I stand hoping it dries out, sipping on a beer, looking after the bags. Finally throw off my clothes, I didn’t walk this far just to stand shivering on the edge. The water is warmer than I expected and the force of the waves as they hit your chest is bracing. Apart from me, there are a couple of surfers out in the water, but I get to splash about unmolested for a good while.

We trek back barefooted, which is hilarious, as my mud caked toes, slip and slide over the moss-covered rocks and boulders that we have to use as the path itself is a muddy water slide. I manage to get back to the next beach, only falling over once, and showing some catlike reflexes in doing so, to prevent more serious damage. But I’m laughing even as it happens, because I’d seen it coming for a good while.

The night is damp, damp, damp! The festival is in full swing and we head out to it. But the continual drizzle makes it hard to enjoy. But the locals are out in force, determined to enjoy the music, and the big marquee provides enough cover and the music is rocking. I stand with a small group and enjoy the music, for as long as possible, drinking beer, dancing a bit, and then grabbing a couple of great burgers to end the night.


Its glorious and we’re determined to get out and enjoy the beaches whilst the sun’s out. But the hostel informs us there are no boat trips to any of the beaches today. Fffffffuuuuu…….!

A couple of israeli guys tell us that they know of a boat cruise to a couple of beaches, only problem is we’ve only got like twenty mins to get there, we shit, shower and shave and are out of the hostel in record time, marching across the beach to the tour operators office, handing over our cash and are on the boat, before you can say boat tour.

It’s a fantastic day, of lazing on a boat, swimming, snorkeling and general tomfoolery. The sun is burning hot, and the boat is heaving with people, and the caiparinha’s come thick and fast. It’s what I had hoped the whole weekend would be like.

Returning to town, I’m taught how to cart-wheel, I am very bad at, learn the basic steps/form to capoeira, and try to teach our group how to shuffle, its much harder than I thought, obviously having learnt it when I was thirteen.

The day ends with a delicious dinner of moqueca, a traditional bahian stew, with fish and prawns. God my mouth’s watering even as I write about it.

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