Ilha Grande – a haven for the mind and soul

When I think about it, it’s funny how we travelled all the way from Malta, a tiny island in the Mediterranean, to Brazil, one of the biggest countries in the world, only to find ourselves again on another little island, Ilha Grande (ironically). Although we did go round Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paolo and the Iguazu Falls, one of my favourite places in Brazil is in fact Ilha Grande. We only spent three days there, but they were three days of calm, serenity, sea, and nature. Things which might not be that much available back home in Malta (except for the sea of course!).

We went to Ilha Grande in May, just after spending two nights in busy Rio. Due to jet lag and the general tiredness of long travelling hours, we didn’t have much time to explore before we landed on this beautiful island. And so, I can say that this was my first taste of Brazil.

We got to Ilha Grande by ferry, using one of the many available online services, taking you straight from your hotel to the island itself in a few hours. It was a rainy and windy day, but we managed to get to the island safely. One thing that we found out as soon as we landed was…

The Tide

Once we got off the boat, we noticed that there was no beach. Just the sea and then rocks… so getting to the hotel was a bit tricky as we needed to carry our luggage instead of wheeling them around. So lesson number 1 – take a backpack 🙂 Our guesthouse was just on the ‘beach’ so we literally went from walking in the sea to our guest house.

The tricky thing about the tide is that you need to know the time when it comes in. This comes especially handy when you’re enjoying a day on the beach, you leave your stuff to go swimming, and then you notice that the sea is getting closer to your precious stuff. So lesson number 2, keep an eye out for your stuff so that you don’t find it floating around 🙂

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The beach that got lost…
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Well that’s a pretty place for a bar 🙂

The guest house

This has to be one of my favourite accommodations that we have ever had. And it was pretty cheap as well! As I said earlier, we were staying in a guesthouse just by the beach. You would literally come out the front door, onto the sand. The rooms were like little cabins, with views from the balcony to die for, with an inviting hammock just to chill and enjoy the spectacular scenery in front of you. If it wasn’t hot, and I wasn’t craving for a swim, I would probably have stayed on the balcony with a book throughout our stay! You can also opt to rent a place in the town centre, but I would definitely choose the beach house again and again.

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Breakfast view at the guest house
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And view from the balcony… cloudy day but still worth it!
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The beach just in front of the guest house
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Walking back to the guest house – you were never alone 🙂

Nature at its best

‘Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.’ – Albert Einstein

Having almost an nonexistent wifi, you have basically no choice but to get in touch with nature, with the people around you, and ultimately with yourself. This island, because of its unspoiled tropical beaches and rugged landscape, is the perfect place to lose track of time, and just live. Contrary to where I come from, this island is so underdeveloped, that only three vehicles are allowed on the island – a garbage truck, a fire engine and a police vehicle. The small town has a few restaurants and a bunch of tourist agencies taking people on boat trips around the island. Locals travel by bike, and some boys carry a card paying machine from one shop to the other when needed (as only a few are available on the island). It felt like I had stepped back in time, but it had never felt any better!

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Walking into town
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The busy road on a busy mornin’

Since no cars can be used on the island, trekking is highly recommended. However, you can also get from one point to another by means of a boat. We did just that to go to Lopes Mendes beach. Otherwise it would have been a two hour trek from the main town. Trekking, even for a little bit is suggested, as you can also be fortunate enough to spot some endangered species, like brown howler monkeys.

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Trekking trails along the island

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Because you can find football anywhere in Brazil, even on a remote island 🙂

Lopes mendes beach is one of the many unspoiled beaches on Ilha Grande. Even though we got a ferry to get there, we still had to walk a bit, and although it was hot, and I was dying for a swim, the walk was still worthwhile. White sand, never-ending beach, some nice waves –  all in all, it was a beach to remember 🙂

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The white sand at Lopes Mendes beach

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Because if you made it to a beach like this, who cares if the currents are dangerous… right?!

Leaving this island wasn’t easy. Although we were both looking forward to visit the mainland and all it had to offer, we knew that the peaceful life that we lived on this untouched island will never be experienced again. But, life goes on, and the memories that we have of this island will be with us for quite a long time.

‘When you leave a beautiful place, you carry it with you wherever you go.’ – Alexandra Stoddard

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