Where to Stay on Ilha Grande: Pousada Naturalia

Where to Stay on Ilha Grande: Pousada Naturalia

It was August – the dead of the Brazilian winter. Cachaça-laced caipirinhas and Itaipava had been our drinks of choice while in Brazil, and the night prior, they kept us warm while drinking mid-street in Paraty’s historical center. Unrested and a bit hung over, we were up before the sun because even in the crisp weather, our search for a remote island fantasy was taking us to Ilha Grande, one of several hundred islands that comprise Brazil’s Costa Verde. So our pousada host in Paraty arranged for a cab to pick us up and drop us off in the town center where we caught our bus to Angra dos Reis almost two hours away. And from there, we caught a schooner to Abraão, Ilha Grande’s main town.

Lacking sealed roads, cell phone service, supermarkets, ATMs, and banks, Ilha Grande is full of secluded beaches that were once hideouts for pirates and bases for slave traders. More recently, the island served as the site of a hospital and a prison which closed in 1994. Apart from its renowned beaches, the draw to Ilha Grande is the chance to disconnect and to withdraw from the world and into oneself – back to life.

Dessert cart in the town center

I’d been told that a schooner would get us to paradise faster than a ferry, but the ride to Abraão seemed just as slow, delaying us for another two hours. At sea, we tried to shield ourselves from the ocean spray and cold breeze as we sailed past fishing boats, isolated island homes, and a Japanese cargo ship. Tired, hungry, and cold, giddy relief ensued when Abraão finally appeared in the distance – we’d made it to paradise.

With my brother Aaron on the schooner
With my brother Aaron on the schooner

But with all of our transportation delays and poor planning, we were way behind schedule, and this one day that we had to explore this tropical promised land was lost. Our hopes of setting foot on Lopes Mendes, voted by Vogue as one of the 100 most beautiful beaches in the world – gone! Our plans to withstand the cold to snorkel in Gruto do Acaiá, a tavern with a fluorescent blue-green color – failed! Our dream of seeing Lagoa Azul – out the door! Deferred hopes – a recurring theme of our journey throughout Costa Verde.

The bright side? Pousada Naturalia – our Ilha Grande hotel. This small boutique eco hotel is about a 15-minute walk from Abraão’s center where there’s not too much activity apart from a few bars and restaurants, a church, and an internet café. Porters were available for hire to help us carry our luggage, but we opted to rough it.

Walkway leading up to the pousada

The pousada is just a hop away from the beach, and the rainforest serves as its backyard. Upon booking your room, you’ll receive an email confirmation advising you to bring cash payment along with plenty of mosquito repellent, sunblock, and a flashlight. Because nights on Ilha Grande are quite dark, and if a snake slithers past your feet, you at least want to be able to see it – right?

Pousada Naturalia delivered its website promise – “a perfect place for relaxation, both of body and soul”. After a restful night’s sleep in our simply decorated, television-free room, we took in our soothing balcony view before making our way downstairs for breakfast.

After checking out, we took the 5-minute beach route back to town to catch our ferry back to Angra dos Reis for our journey to the final Brazilian destination on our list – Búzios.

Yes, we should’ve planned better and opted to spend at least two to three nights on Ilha Grande. Yes, we probably should’ve held off on going to Brazil altogether until the weather warmed up. But the bigger lesson: sometimes you’ll travel for an entire day only to get to your destination to rest your weary head. And sometimes, that’s okay.

Click here to send a reservation inquiry to Pousada Naturalia.



What’s the most remote location you’ve ever visited?

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  • Wow looks like quite a journey! I stayed in a jungle lodge in Costa Rica once that was a 2.5 hour boat ride, but it was amazing weather so it wasn’t really that bad 🙂

    • Dana Carmel

      I definitely learned my lesson, Anna. Next time, I’ll definitely give myself more time to enjoy Ilha Grande!

  • I really enjoyed reading this post but all I can concentrate on right now is that dessert tray… WOW.

    Haha, happy travels 🙂

    • Dana Carmel

      I know – it’s quite distracting, Lauren! 😉

  • The Dessert cart looks amazing. I want some from there.

    • Dana Carmel

      Yes, that cart is bad news for my waistline!

  • I love the view of the boats on the water – and the desserts! Definitely looks like a place to relax.

    • Dana Carmel

      Yeah – that dessert cart sitting in the middle of the street is dangerous. I’m looking forward to going back to Ilha Grande for more relaxing and exploring.

  • Dana, one of my top favorite blog Subscription alerts on email I look forward to is from you and Jave. I MEAN that. I read this entire post. Twice. You wrote the one part about having no tv, phones, etc and just were within yourselves. I really thought a lot about that. Hence, why I read it twice. Thank you! I loved this post as I do all of them. Just a beautiful escape for me both with your pictures and your dialogue. Sorry, I’m so non-specific but it was what I mentioned above. Just a great escape for me to read. Phoenix and I say hello to you both and safe travels always please! Your friends 🙂

    • Dana Carmel

      Hello Mike & Phoenix. And as always, thank you for reading!

  • Nice to see that you are enjoying yourself Dana. Ilha Grande hotel looks cool and it’s view is fantastic.

    • Dana Carmel

      Yes – the view is awesome. I believe all of the rooms have ocean views.

  • I guess this is a great place to disconnect from the world and just enjoy life. Although it’s unfortunate that you missed many of the places due to transportation delays, the hotels looks nice.

    • Dana Carmel

      Yes – the hotel was very simple yet very nice. I’m definitely going back to Ilha Grande when I go back to Brazil. I’m determined to see the places we missed!


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