When visiting Ilhabela our most treasured item was a family sized bottle of mosquito repellent. The mosquitoes on Ilhabela, called “borrachudos”, are one of the meanest in the world and will wound you bloodily like vampires – no kidding: you will bleed on Ilhabela. But as the saying goes: no pain no gain. Apart from those little beasts the beautiful and tropical paradise feeling starts as soon as you have put on a layer of sunscreen topped with one of mosquito repellent.
We spent two full days here: on the first we hiked the “Toca Waterfall Trail”, stopping to take a dip in each of the five river pools along the way. Later we visited Vila, the island’s main town, for the carnival parade which was most impressive for its though and persistent carnival actors who “sambad” their way through pouring rain. To round off our day we enjoyed a lovely calamari and Caipirinha midnight snack at Cheiro Verde, a restaurant favoured by many locals.
The next day, we went for another hike, this time to “Cachoeira da Laje”, a much frequented picknick spot, for locals as well as mosquitoes. More ambitious and tropical climate approved hikers can pimp this hike by continuing through the rainforest for three more hours and will be rewarded with the opportunity to recover at the breathtaking Bonete beach. On our way back we checked out some of the Southern beaches of the island which are the most loved ones by locals and Brazilian visitors but too well loved for our taste. Thus, we made our way back to other less crowded beach strips. When leaving Ilhabela behind the next day we got reminded by a super heavy shower that it is wise to keep the rainjacket on top of our backbacks and to have everything stored in a “rain-save” way. Well, lets say we learned our lesson AND our rain equipment was put to the test thoroughly. All clothes have dried by now, the mosquito wounds are still healing, but great memories were made to stay.
When on Ilhabela:
Where to stay: For all that prefer full hotel service, Guanumbis is a good option. An interesting alternative on Ilhabela can be Airbnb.
Where to drink & eat: Cheiro Verde – great seafood at fair prices and a locals’ favourite.
What to do: Cool down in the five pools of the “Toca Waterfall Trail”. But ALWAYS make sure to reapply mosquito repellent after every dip.
Here are some highlights captured during our visit on Ilhabela: