Ilhabela is not only a natural resort for visitors looking for peace and quiet and the opportunity to have close contact with nature, but also the perfect place for tourists who prefer trendy events and excellent infrastructure. The destination has more than 40 beaches that will simply amaze you!
One of the few marine-archipelago municipalities in Brazil, Ilhabela comprises approximately 14 islands and islets. It is located about 210 km from the city of São Paulo, in a strategic position between the state capital and Rio de Janeiro. Tourists can get to the municipality on a cruise boat or by ferry. Containing beautiful beaches, Ilhabela lives up to its reputation as one of the most popular destinations on the north coast of São Paulo both with Brazilian and foreign tourists.
The island is a small piece of paradise on earth that includes both beaches and mountains. It is surrounded by the Ilhabela State Park, an incredible Atlantic Forest reserve that attracts hikers and nature lovers. It is also home to ecotourism attractions for families, children, and adventure lovers. The beautiful local waterfalls, deserted beaches, and exciting trails make it an unforgettable destination.
The island offers attractions that will please everyone. There are more than 40 beaches around the main island, dozens of waterfalls and natural pools, forest trails that lead to deserted beaches, lush vegetation, and diverse wildlife. It is great for bird-watching.
Some of the activities that visitors must do include boat rides to paradise beaches, snorkeling expeditions to observe marine life, such as turtles and several types of local fish, and scuba diving adventures to explore shipwrecks that have been there for centuries.
The charming small town has excellent infrastructure and plenty of events that attract tourists during the whole year, such as the Ilhabela In Jazz Festival, the Shrimp Festival, the XTerra Brazil outdoor sports event, and Ilhabela International Sailing Week (the largest South American nautical event).
Visitors who want to enjoy the beach without getting too far from the city will prefer the west coast of the island. Those who prefer to disconnect from their stressful lives and explore deserted unspoiled beaches should visit the east coast, close to Ilhabela State Park. Visitors can get there by boat, hiking, or on off-road vehicles.
Would you like to learn more about the best beaches in Ilhabela and choose your favorite? Check some of them out!
Bonete beach is reputedly one of the most beautiful on the island, and has already been voted one of the ten most beautiful beaches in Brazil by British newspaper The Guardian. The place is surrounded by mountains covered in native vegetation and has a river that flows into the sea. With local waves reaching up to three meters in height, the beach has established itself as a surfer’s paradise. It is also an excellent destination to go hiking, snorkeling, and whale watching, and to learn a little more about the local culture, perpetuated by the traditional caiçara community.
Visitors can get to the beach by boat, and the trip lasts about an hour. Alternatively, there is a 12-km-long trail that takes about 5 hours, but its difficulty level is considered challenging. The advantage of taking the trail is the chance to be surrounded by the native Atlantic Forest and being able to enjoy the unique experience of being in contact with unspoiled nature.
Ilha das Cabras Beach
Visitors to the small Ilha das Cabras beach will find calm seas, blue-green crystal-clear waters, and good infrastructure. For water sports lovers, this beach is the ideal place to go diving, as it is located in the Ilhabela Ecological Marine Sanctuary region. Visibility is great and local conditions are perfect for divers to see not only several types of fish, but also starfish, turtles, and even seahorses.
Julião Beach (Prainha)
Julião Beach is popularly known as Prainha (small beach), and offers calm seas with beautiful natural pools, a favorite spot for divers who want to observe the incomparable local marine life. Prainha has options that will suit everyone, but most visitors consist of couples and families. If you want excellent infrastructure, you won’t be let down. There is also accessible and adapted infrastructure for people with reduced mobility!
Curral Beach is easily the most popular in Ilhabela, a place where visitors will be able enjoy some music throughout the day. The calm crystal-clear waters complement a refined environment that includes good restaurants, bars, inns, and hotels. There are also plenty of fun activities on the beach, including water sports, banana boat rides, and jet ski and speedboat rentals.
Saco da Capela Beach
The Saco da Capela waterfront, considered one of the most beautiful on the São Paulo State coast, extends for 930 meters and includes a bike path and a gorgeous promenade, from which the visitors can marvel at the countless boats and sailboats and watch the sunset while enjoying a wonderful stroll in the late afternoon. After that, you just can’t beat happy hour at the local kiosks, restaurants, and beach clubs.
Extending for approximately 1,700 meters, Castelhanos is the largest beach on the archipelago and a favorite among surfers and adventure lovers. Its heart-shaped cove, visible from the lookout, is renowned in the region. It’s simply impossible not to fall in love with it!
This is one of the most popular beaches in the region, and it is renowned for providing visitors with lots of shade and even fresh water. Surrounded by mountains, lush vegetation, and intense blue waters, Jabaquara is very popular with tourists who want greater contact with nature.
Located near the local commercial center in a busy area of the island, Perequê is the best place on Ilhabela to find a souvenir to take home with you. Winds in the region blow steadily throughout the year, making it an ideal place to practice water sports such as sailing, kitesurfing, and windsurfing. The local sea is also great if visitors want to go kayaking or stand-up paddling. Other sports, such as soccer (football), volleyball, and even rugby are frequently played on the beach.
Small and reserved, Fome beach boasts calm, emerald-green waters, white sand, and lush vegetation. It is renowned for having ideal diving and underwater fishing conditions and it is also the perfect place for visitors who just want to enjoy a peaceful day in the sun.
Feiticeira is a small beach that boasts calm waters and beautiful rock formations. As it is more isolated and rustic, there aren’t any kiosks and restaurants, and it is usually frequented by visitors who want some peace and quiet. The sand strip on the beach extends for 250 meters, and there are two waterfalls in the region whose water flows into the sea.
São José dos Campos Airport (SJK) is the closest one to Ilhabela. The bus trip from the local bus station to São Sebastião, the town just across the channel from the island, takes around 3 hours. Guarulhos International Airport (GRU) is the second best option, as there are direct bus routes to Ilhabela from the airport terminal. If you are flying into Congonhas Airport (CGH), the best thing to do is to go to Guarulhos Airport and take the bus from there, avoiding the São Paulo bus station altogether.
If you are planning to go to Ilhabela by bus, you will need to catch the bus to São Sebastião. Commercial buses do not enter the island, but the stop in São Sebastião is right next to the ferry terminal, so passengers can cross on foot (free of charge).
Personal Vehicles or Rentals
Visitors who choose to drive to Ilhabela will need to go to São Sebastião and then take the ferry that crosses the channel to the island. If you are driving from São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro by car, the best option is to take the Rio-Santos highway, which goes all the way to São Sebastião.
Ilhabela is a mandatory stop for many cruise ships that pass along the Brazilian coast. Cruise season in Brazil generally happens between the months of October and April.
There are regular bus routes all over the island. You can check timetables at this link.
Taxis and Ridesharing Companies
Taxis are available on the island as well.
Personal Vehicles and Rentals
It is possible to take your personal vehicle to the island so you don’t depend on public transportation. However, for larger vehicles such as vans, mini-buses, or tourism buses, you will need authorization from the Ilhabela Tourism Department. In order to get this authorization, users will need to pay a fee that varies according to the type of vehicle they are using.
Ilhabela Tourism Department
+55 (12) 3895-7220
Ilhabela City Hall
+55 (12) 3896-9200
Military Police: 190
Fire Department: 193
Peak season takes place during the summer months in Brazil, between December and March. These are also the months with the warmest temperatures, which vary between 25º and 35ºC. During the rest of the year, the average temperature is milder, around 25ºC.