Ilhabela, beautiful by name, beautiful by nature
Why Ilhabela should by on your radar for a delightful island getaway.
Ilhabela, sometimes ignored in favour of Ilha Grande for backpackers, indeed lives up to it’s name as the Beautiful Island. It’s a lush green island with expansive national parks, and a laid back cool vibe with welcoming locals. As a foot passenger it’s free to travel across from São Sebastião, on the ferry which departs frequently throughout the day and travelling around the island is easy with a good bus service and numerous tour operators offering 4×4 services to off the beaten track spots. It’s a sailing haven and home to yacht clubs that host numerous regattas throughout the year, as well as being popular for other watersports including scuba diving and free diving.
The island offers a range of accomodations to suit all budgets, from the simple hostel right up to world standard hotels. but for a personal family touch a pousada is the way to go. A pousada is a mix between a B&B and a small boutique hotel and staying in these often means you’ll be interacting directly with a local family with inside knowledge.
Pouso Sambaquis is a top choice on the island, a tropical hideaway close to the main beaches of the north side. The immaculate rooms look out onto a beautiful pool surrounded by a flower garden visited by up to 30 different species of birds. Maria, the housekeeper bakes fresh daily treats for the breakfast, whilst Alex the nature loving owner can provide personal tours to hidden beauty spots and wildlife havens.
Ilhabela is covered in National Parks and for anyone interested in wildlife, particularly bird watching, as well as flora & fauna it’s an ideal place to visit. The park rangers ensure the parks are left as nature intended and clearly marked paths allow for exploring without disturbing the animals and plants. Numerous trails lead through the parks, to observation towers where you can catch a glimpse of toucans amongst other colourful favourites whilst looking over the top of the trees. There are waterfalls galore in the parks, and if you set off early you might be lucky enough to get one to yourself.
For those who like the finer things in life, on Ilhabela’s 41 beaches there are some fantastic beach clubs including Villa Salga with it’s lovely views of James Bond- esque villas on the hilltops. Swanky yachts pull up nearby the club and drinks are shuttled out to them whilst others dance and drink cocktails on the private beach area.
Whilst in the summer months, Ilhabela is usually busy with local and foreign tourists during low season you can get some fantastic deals on the island and you’re sure to be delighted by the beauty and tranquility Ilhabela offers.