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Ilhabela, Brazil

Ilhabela is an archipelago and a municipality in the North Coast of São Paulo. It is considered one of the natural paradises of the São Paulo coast, along with Ubatuba (Ilhabela means literally "beautiful island" in Portuguese). The place is known for its forest-covered mountains, its amazing beaches, its savage trails - and difficult not to mention, also its vicious mosquitos.

In pre-colonial times, the largest island of the archipelago, São Sebastião, was called Maembipe by Native Brazilians, who used the island for trade and prisoner exchange. The island was discovered in 1502 by the Portuguese, and although settlement began shortly thereafter, the village of the island was officially founded only in 1806, with the name of Vila Bela da Princesa ("Beautiful Village of the Princess"). The municipality would finally be named "Ilhabela" in 1945. In 1977, the majority of the archipelago's... Read more

Ilhabela, Brazil

Destination:

Ilhabela is an archipelago and a municipality in the North Coast of São Paulo. It is considered one of the natural paradises of the São Paulo coast, along with Ubatuba (Ilhabela means literally "beautiful island" in Portuguese). The place is known for its forest-covered mountains, its amazing beaches, its savage trails - and difficult not to mention, also its vicious mosquitos.

In pre-colonial times, the largest island of the archipelago, São Sebastião, was called Maembipe by Native Brazilians, who used the island for trade and prisoner exchange. The island was discovered in 1502 by the Portuguese, and although settlement began shortly thereafter, the village of the island was officially founded only in 1806, with the name of Vila Bela da Princesa ("Beautiful Village of the Princess"). The municipality would finally be named "Ilhabela" in 1945. In 1977, the majority of the archipelago's area was declared a state park and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Geography

The municipality comprises the main island, Ilha de São Sebastião, and three smaller inhabited islands: Buzios and Vitória islands, 7½ and 2½ km away from the northeastern tip of the main island, respectively, and Pescadores Island, near Vitória Island. Buzios and Vitória are home to 142 and 50 caiçaras, respectively. There are also the very small islets (das Cabras, da Sumítica, da Serraria, dos Castelhanos, da Lagoa, da Figueira e das Enchovas islands). Almost all the urbanized areas are in the very narrow plains between the sea and the mountains of the main island, preferably at the west part of the island, facing the continent.

A short (30 km) but high mountain range forms this main island, reaching above 1,000 meters in seven different points - Pico de São Sebastião (1,378 m), Morro do Papagaio (1,307 m), Pico da Serraria (1,285 m), Morro do Ramalho (1,205 m), Morro do Simão (1,102 m), Morro das Tocas 1,079 m) and Pico do Baepi (1,048 m). Running approximately 8 km into the Atlantic Ocean off the southeast corner of the island, there is the Península do Boi (Ox Peninsula). The east side of the island is inhabited by very few people, who concentrate mainly on the Castelhanos beach, the only on this side accessible by road. Only 4x4 jeeps are able to cross this particular road, though.

Most of the city has a humid subtropical climate, but the mountains have an oceanic climate, because of the high altitude. The Atlantic Forest covers the entire city.


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Ilhabela, Brazil: Port Information


It is a tender port so passengers are transported ashore by tender boats. 

Get around Ilhabela, Brazil


Since construction in Ilhabela is mostly restricted to the West coast of the São Sebastião island, there is really just one avenue and getting around, by bus or by car, should be simple. The coast has many slopes, making cycling not a very attractive option. Walking is fine, as there are plenty of sidewalks and other infrastructure for pedestrians, but the occasionally long distance between towns can be a problem.

Additionally, the municipality operates several bus services that run the length of the island. While not as comfortable as traveling by car, the bus provides a cheaper alternative for those looking to get around the island.

There are also a couple of unpaved roads that give access to remote points of the island, like the Castelhanos beach on the East coast. A 4x4 vehicle or mountain bike, as well as a prepared driver or cyclist, are necessary for some of them.

The rest of Ilhabela can only be reached by boat or by trails in the rainforest.

What to see in Ilhabela, Brazil


Northwest beaches

The beaches of the Northwest coast are easily accessible using the main avenue and the unpaved road in the north. Most have calm waters and are adequate for nautical sports. They occasionally suffer from pollution originating in the mainland.

  • Armação (12 km north of ferry). Suitable for windsurfing and kitesurfing. Contains a charming church, Capela Imaculada Conceição, and some kiosks and restaurants.
  • Pedra do Sino (between Siriúba and Poço). One of the most famous beaches of Ilhabela, it gets its name from its rock formations, which produce a bell-like sound when they hit each other. With shallow and calm waters, and white sands surrounded by coconut trees.
  • Ponta Azeda (accessible from Praia do Pinto). Small and with calm waters.
  • Siriúba (8 km north of the ferry). Quiet beach surrounded by coconut trees, with calm waters.
  • Barreiros (7,5 km north of ferry). Beautiful beach with 600 m extensions and calm waters. Before reaching the beach there is a nice view of the São Sebastião channel.
  • Itaquanduba. Small and quiet beach, with calm waters. Mostly frequented by locals.
  • Pequeá. Close to downtown and good for sailing. With bars and restaurants.

Southeast beaches

The beaches of the Southeast Coast are difficult to access and mostly desert. Many have strong waves, being indicated for surfing.

  • Caveira (south of Serraria island). Diving point. Only accessible by boat.
  • Enchovas (50 min. trail from Bonete). One of the most beautiful spots of the island. With thick and yellow sands, rocks and a river.
  • Indaiúba (near Enchovas/Bonete). With white sands and calm waters. Only accessible by boat.
  • Bonete (12 km trail from Ponta de Sepituba). Considered by the British Guardian newspaper one of the 10 most beautiful beaches of Brazil. With strong waves.

What to do in Ilhabela, Brazil


  • Trekking and mountain biking. Besides the full south, east, west jungle Bonete Trail, the island offers many shorter hikes, e.g. Pico do Baepi. Also, inside the island, trekking and mountain biking shall give plenty of adventure for those who seek it.
- Bonete Jungle Trail (Trilha do Bonete, 44 km) (Take a bus along the western coast to the most southern point, from here it is 44 km by Bonete, Castelhanos and back to Cambaquara. You might be able to skip the last 16 km across the hills by taking one of the many 4WD that bring tourists back to Cambaquara in the afternoon.). If you need a break from the constant Brazilian hassle and concern for your life, this is where you need to head. You can see monkeys, all kinds of birds, lush jungle forests, beautiful beaches, picturesque waterfalls, and take a dip in on of the many river pools. You should do the full trail because you really do not want to take the bus twice. There are some camping sites along the trail, both backcountry as well as serviced ones.
           South parking / bus stop to Bonete: 2-3 hr. Bonete to Praia de Indaiúba (private): 2 hr. Praia de Indaiúba to Castelhanos: 2 hr. Castelhanos to Cambaquara: 3-4 hr.
           Watch out, the trails are often very slippery (everything that looks green). Some claim that it is good to use a repellent against the sand flies, but instead of all those chemicals, you are better off just using long clothes. The beaches are not really enjoyable due to the sand flies anyhow.
- Pico do Baepi. The highest mountain on Ilhabela with great views.
  • Sailing and surfing. Ilhabela is called "the capital of sailing" for good reason, as the calm waters and strong winds between the main island and the continent are perfect for nautical sports such as sailing, kitesurfing, and windsurfing.
  • Scuba diving. There are a good number of places indicated for scuba diving.
  • Boat rides. For those who want a more relaxed time, an option are the boat rides to remote beaches, fishing spots, and the smaller islands.

What to eat and drink in Ilhabela, Brazil


Eat

  • Cheiro Verde, Rua da Padroeira 109 - Centro, ☎ +55 12 3896-3245. A reasonably priced option specialized in seafood-based Brazilian dishes like moqueca and bobó de camarão.
  • Cura, Av. Princesa Isabel, 337 - Perequê, ☎ +55 12 3896-1311. Self-service restaurant with 60 options of warm dishes. Pay per kg.
  • Max Paladar, Av. São João, 243 - Perequê, ☎ +55 12 3896-3700. Traditional self-service restaurant in a rustic environment. Claims to serve 90% of the food with 0% trans fat.
  • Praia do Bonete Ilha Bela, Bonete.
  • Nautica NEMA, Bonete, ☎ +55 12 7812-5634.
  • Quiosque do Alemão, Praia de Castelhanos - Castelhanos, ☎ +55 12 3894-7011. Daily 09:00-17:00.

Drink

  • Me Gusta, ☎ +55 12 3896 1328.

Shopping in Ilhabela, Brazil


Tourist-oriented shops can be found at Rua do Meio, in the Center.

Safety in Ilhabela, Brazil


Ilhabela is, without doubt, a natural paradise... which can also mean hell for humans. The rainforest in the archipelago is well known for the borrachudos, a mosquito-like insect whose bites will give you an excruciatingly itchy experience. Use a good quality repellent all the time, in every exposed part of your body including the bottom of your feet, in case you are wearing sandals or flip-flops. One particularly recommended repellent is the Exposis Extrême, that prevents about 90% of the bites and significantly alleviates the pain and itchiness of the other 10%. It is about 40% more expensive than other repellents, but it is definitely worth it, especially for those doing trekking.

Beach pollution problems have unfortunately started to appear on the west coast of Ilhabela, and at some times of the year, some beaches may not be suitable for swimming. The water quality is weekly monitored by the state water agency (CETESB), so if you see a red flag of CETESB in the beach, don't go swimming.

Language spoken in Ilhabela, Brazil


Portuguese is the official language. English can be understood in tourist places. However, it's not widely spoken.

LOCAL TIME

11:27 pm
November 20, 2019
America/Sao_Paulo

CURRENT WEATHER

22.27 °C / 72.086 °F
sky is clear
Thu

22.74 °C/73 °F
few clouds
Fri

24.16 °C/75 °F
light rain
Sat

23.62 °C/75 °F
light rain
Sun

22.19 °C/72 °F
moderate rain

LOCAL CURRENCY

BRL

1 USD = 0 BRL
1 EUR = 0 BRL
1 GBP = 0 BRL
1 AUD = 0 BRL
1 CAD = 0 BRL

Ilhabela, Brazil shore excursions