Ilha Grande - Rio de Janeiro

Much more than just an island.

Ilha Grande, one of my favorite places with its enchanting natural beauty, you can't help but fall in love. It's been a long time since I've been back to this place, which used to be a regular feature of my destinations. It was the first place I camped in my life and for seven consecutive years I was sure to be there, it was love at first sight.
Time passed, nostalgia set in and I decided to return, but this time I wasn't going camping! For the first time I decided to stay in a hostel in Vila do Abraão, I wanted to get to know such an intimate place in a different way. I only had one Saturday and one Sunday, so camping would have been impossible because of the time I would have lost setting up the tent.

I got up on Saturday and rushed to Mangaratiba, where the ferry to Abraão (the cheapest sea transportation to the island) leaves from, but the traffic didn't help and I didn't manage to get there until 8 o'clock, when the ferry leaves on Saturdays, so I chose to go to Conceição de Jacareí, the closest port to Ilha Grande. I took a sloop, which is a bit more expensive, but much faster than the ferry and in no time at all we began to see the breathtaking beauty of the deep, crystal-clear waters, with dolphins putting on a show for visitors.

We arrived around 10 a.m., rushed to the pousada, dropped off our things and looked for tours. We chose one that left at 10:30 a.m. for Gruta do Acaiá and Lagoa Verde, two places I hadn't been to before.

TIP: It's easy to bargain for tours in low season and on normal weekends; this tour only takes place on Saturdays.

This is one of the longest tours on the island. The cave is two hours away by boat, at the western end of the island. There is a fee to access the cave, as the entrance is on private property.
Yes, but can you get in by sea?
There is, but the entrance is three meters deep and six meters away, and it suffers a lot from tidal action, absurdly dark in the sea/stream and full of sharp shellfish on its dark walls, so if you're not a professional diver, don't even risk it!

I went overland and saw how narrow the entrance was and the path to the cave's charms. I went down lying down, sort of sitting down, crawling until I got close to the water, obviously it was so dark that only touch and other people's flashlights helped me.
When I arrived, I put on my snorkel, dived in and felt supreme peace in a unique place. I saw that it was worth every effort to get to this place, which was one of the coolest of my life. A natural, fluorescent and beautiful aquarium! I didn't want to leave, but the tour had to continue. I left with even more difficulty, as I now had to climb and crawl.

TIP: Be careful not to hurt your back if you go up sitting or squatting, as the space is really small.

We made our way to the next stop at the Green Lagoon and we were greeted by an abundance of fish in its crystal-clear green water, which lets you see the bottom even from a distance.

It's worth taking snorkeling goggles and swimming out to the rocks, the marine life is amazing and sometimes sea turtles show up.
I stayed there for hours, not even seeing the time go by, swimming and being amazed by so many beautiful things, and the next thing I knew, the sloop was honking its horn for us to continue the tour.

The next and last stop was Boipeba! A small and beautiful beach, but I confess that I felt a little sad when I went to take the trail to the beach, with pipes and full of sewage that did not match the place at all, I went on with tears in my eyes and arrived at the modest little beach!
I dived in and stayed there. To get back, I chose to swim to the sloop, I didn't want to witness the degradation of such a wonderful place.

The tour over, with many fond memories, I returned to the hostel, changed my clothes and it was time to enjoy the evening and have dinner!
The next day was packed with activities before we left, so let's go?

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