By Corinne Marian
Aland of gorgeous beaches (around 40 of them), impressive mountains and at least 10 waterfalls. This is Ilhabela, which translates as “the Beautiful Island”, located on the North Coast of Sao Paulo state.
Ilhabela archipelago is composed of 14 islands and the most popular is Sao Sebastiao, with 346 Km2.
In recent years, the local Tourism Board decided to invest heavily on international tourism. New hotels and pousadas were built, as well as restaurants, bars and local handcraft stores
Weather: Summer months, between December and March, are the most popular when temperatures range from 25C to 35C . From April to November the island gets less crowded with the average temperature reaching 25C.
HOW TO GET THERE
By car or bus: take the Rio-Santos road ( BR 101) from either Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo up to Sao Sebastiao. Take the ferry to cross the canal (approx.20 minutes) up to Ilhabela. The crossing by foot or bicycle is free. Cars and vans pay BRL 19.00 on weekdays (approx. CAD 7.00) and BRL 28.00 (approx. CAD 10.00) on weekends. It leaves every half hour, from 5:30am to 11:30pm daily.
By plane: Sao Jose dos Campos is the closest airport and Azul airlines has the most number of flights. From there you can take a bus for a 3-hour ride up to Sao Sebastiao. From Guarulhos international airport in Sao Paulo, there are buses going directly to Ilhabela.
By cruise: Many cruise lines dock at Ilhabela and offer day tours to the island.
From 4 star hotels to camping grounds, Ilhabela offers accommodations of all kinds for all pocket sizes. Pousadas are a great choice. The Charme do Emirado is quoted as the best by Trip Advisor, with prices starting at CAD 72.00 per night.
Gato Waterfall, the hiking trails at Bonete Beach, Rua do Meio and the Old Jail, as well
as the promenade nearby, are among the main attractions in Ilhabela.
Most popular tour:
the 22km jeep tour from Sao Sebastiao to the beach of Castelhanos, – known as the “Slaves Route” that goes through the Atlantic Forest