IlhaBela – Sao Paulo’s Hidden Gem

Is IlhaBela Sao PAulo's best kept secret? Featured image

When you hear about people visiting Brazil, you often hear about an island called Ilha Grande which is close to Rio. This is not to be confused with IlhaBela. IlhaBela (literally translated: Beautiful Island) is located in the Sao Paulo state, and is a smaller, less touristic but equally beautiful island. The island is not very populated, and as it is a part of Sao Paulo state (the richest state in Brazil), there is very little poverty and it is a fairly safe place to spend time. We were talking to a local there who told us that the government is working to actually deter slums and ensure they don’t start forming, so the current state is quite good.

I beleive that Ilhabela might just be Sao Paulo state’s best-kept secret – and it certainly has some hidden gems itself. It is quiet, it is clean, it is safe and it is beautiful – yet there is almost no-one around. Why?

If you’re still not convinced, here are some things to do in IlhaBela.

  1. Praia do Perequê / Pereque Beach

This is an awesome beach, and not hard to get to since it is close to the town centre. Praia do Pereque is the busiest beach on the island, and is close to the cafes, restaurants and shops. It is a lovely place to have a walk along the beach as there is a coastal walk that goes on for a few kilometres at least. This is where locals walk their dogs or go cycling.

There is almost always something happening on this beach – when we were there they were in the process of setting up a giant stage right on the beach for some kind of music festival. You can also enjoy activities on the beach such as paddle-boarding or slacklining. It’s a place you can go if you want to spend a day just chilling, or a place with nice vibes to hang out in the evening.

  1. Trilha do Baepi / Baepi Trail

Yes, IlhaBela has some awesome hiking trails as well!

IlhaBela is basically a mountain on an island with beaches surrounding it. Some beaches can only be reached by hiking through the mountains (or by boat). Trilha do Baepi is a trail to go to the top of the mountain and see a view of the whole island. It’s a few hours steady climb, so don’t attempt this unless you are physically fit. The sight of the few houses dotted around the rich fauna of the island is really beautiful from above.

  1. Praia Jabaquara / Jabaquara Beach

There are so many beaches on IlhaBela, and I can’t say I visited all of them, but Jabaquara was one stunning beach. Perfect, clear water and white sand. At the end of the beach, there are rocks which you can climb up to jump in. There are also ponds formed by creek water with beautiful calm fresh water on the beach which you can also swim in if you are after an ice-cold dip! The only down side to Jabaquara, I would say, is the sand flies and mosquitos. If you are going to visit this beach, take repellent. Just trust me.

  1. Cachoeira Paqueta / Paqueta Waterfall

This is a very well-kept secret of IlhaBela.

One of my highlights of my whole trip was this waterfall. It is not one of the main tourist attractions on the island and it was actually quite hard to find the entrance. There are no signs or Google Maps, or anything of the sort. You kind of just have to figure it out for yourself (it would help if you spoke Portuguese at this point). We later found out that they purposely do not make it easy. Why?  Because the waterfall is the main source of clean water for the island so they don’t want it contaminated (and you can also tell this from all the water pipes that run through the bushes). The parking is someone’s driveway, which they charge to use, and then give you a guide to lead you through the bush to the waterfall.

It’s a pretty short walk, and you come out on basically a rock face between two waterfalls: one above you and one below. You can then swim in the pond from the waterfall and bathe under the waterfall’s flow, which is a pretty epic experience.

You can also climb up the rock face to reach the waterfall above. This gives an amazing view of the waterfall below and also of the sea in the distant.

It’s hard to explain in words, but this was such a magical, scenic place, and the best part was there was no one else around. If you find it, consider yourself one of the lucky ones!

  1. Rua do Meio

Rua do Meio is the main street of IlhaBela, and as with any main street in Brazil, it is constantly bustling with life. It is a good place to go out and get something to eat or drink. There are often street performers or other forms of entertainment, and this street is also home to colourful, vibrant houses and buildings.

A good place to be if you need anything, or if you just want to enjoy a drink in the evening.

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Of course, there are so many amazing places to see in IlhaBela. What I took from the place is that it is really one of those places that you can just go and explore for yourself in any direction and see what you find. Chances are it will probably be something amazing.

I was quite stunned when I went to IlhaBela. Firstly because I had never heard of this place that was so beautiful and had such a cool vibe. And secondly because not many other people seemed to have heard of it either because there was no-one around.

If you are going to be in or around Brazil’s Sao Paulo anytime soon, make sure you visit IlhaBela.~

 

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4 Comments

  1. Oh my god, it truly looks like a dream. I’m headed to South America next year (all of it) and am planning on staying in Brasil for about 4 months, and this is definitely a place I will visit then. It looks breathtaking!

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