Hello Ilha Grande, Have We Met Before?

1 Mar

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The 4am wake-up to get out the door to catch the bus that would take us to the ferry that would then take us to Ilha Grande. We took a taxi to the bus station and bought our tickets that morning. The bus was already loading and actually left 10 minutes early so it was a good thing we got there when we did!

The ride was 2 hours long and I slept the entire way, only waking up because J.J. was shaking me to get my things together and get off the bus. We then bought our ferry tickets which cost about $14 reals each because it was a Saturday (they’re $7 reals on weekdays) and lined up to get on the boat.

2 hours later we were pulling in to the docks of Ilha Grande which immediately made me think of Koh Phi Phi, Thailand which J.J. and I had visited only last March.

We got off the ferry, made a quick pit stop to the Tourist Information booth where we picked up a map and walked the short 5 minutes to our pasada. The walk there reminded me more and more of Koh Phi Phi with the tour storefronts, little shops and pasadas and locals trying to bike their way through the narrow streets.

We weren’t able to check in right away but were able to use the washroom to change into beach clothes and lock our bags up while we went out to see what we could find to do that day. We visited a number of the different tour offices to see what our options were for that day, negotiating prices and finding out about departure times (it was already 10:30am by the time we arrived). We decided on buying the 12:30pm round trip boat pass to Lopes Mendes, a beach that is rated amongst the world’s top 50 most beautiful beaches.

We were able to check in to our hostel before leaving and were pleasantly surprised with the clean, spacious bedroom that had a private bathroom with the sink outside (handy with 4 people sharing a room!), a set of bunk beds, one single bed and one double bed. As with all big decisions on the trip we flipped for the big bed and J.J. and I won for the first night.

Minutes later we found ourselves on the boat to Lopes Mendes and 45 minutes after departing the docks we’d arrived. We had a 20 minute walk, both uphill and downhill, along a path to the beach and were able to see these funny-looking small monkeys as well as a very large spider (something I’m told we can look forward to seeing more of in Australia).

The path just before the beach was slightly overgrown leaving just a teasing peek at what we were about to walk out on and immediately I understood why this was one of the top 50 beaches in the world. The sand was white, the ocean was the perfect blue-green and it was clean. We found a spot close to the surf and laid out with our towels, books, and plenty of sunscreen.

It wasn’t long before we gave in to the heat and decided to cool off in the ocean, fully expecting the sharp chill we’d experienced in Rio but pleasantly surprised at the warmth of the water. It was perfect, cold enough to cool down, warm enough to play in for as long as you wanted.

What an amazing day at Lopes Mendes! We took the last possible boat back to the part of the island where we were staying at 6:30pm so that we could shower off the salt and sand and get some dinner.

We chose a restaurant right on the beach (déjà vu of Koh Phi Phi!) that had a live band playing nearby. The boys decided to share this seafood platter that came out on a grill while Tal and I chose one of two non-seafood options, chicken with tomato sauce and cheese. And while the food took insanely long to come out (so long that we placed bets on the time it would arrive – J.J. won), it was good.

Full and sleepy from our day of fun in the sun we turned in, as we had another big day ahead: a speedboat tour to a number of local beaches. The bronzing was to be continued.

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