Trek and Kayak an Unspoilt Island in Brazil

Explore Brazil’s Ilha Bela, or beautiful island. Swim in river pools and kayak to deserted beaches. 4 days.

3 Nights
June, September—December

Travel to an unspoilt archipelago that easily lives up to its name, home to dolphins, turtles and at least five varieties of whale. Trek through a slice of untouched rainforest, explore the little-visited coastline and stay in traditional fishing communities.

Your hassle-free adventure includes:

  • Three nights accommodation
  • Experienced, English Speaking Guide
  • Three breakfasts, three lunches, two dinners
  • Trail snacks, fruit and water
  • All kayaking equipment

Perfect for: Travellers who want to get off the beaten path and explore life on a UNESCO protected island.

Need To Know

The only extra costs are:

  • Travel to and from Ilha Bela
  • Dinner on night one in Ilha Bela town
  • Drinks (water is provided)

All kayaking equipment, including lifejackets, is provided.

A reasonable level of fitness is required for this trek as it covers around 28 kilometres over three days much of it through jungle, although there’ll be plenty of breaks to rest and recover. There’s no need to have any previous kayaking experience as your guide will give you a full briefing. You’ll kayak for around four hours.

Absolutely! The trip runs with a minimum group of four people and a maximum of eight, so you’ll be kayaking with other like-minded travellers. Lot’s of people book our trips as a solo traveller - it’s a great way to meet people.

You’ll need to pack: - Swimsuit - Towel - Comfortable hiking boots and thick socks - Insect repellent - Sunscreen - Hat - Head torch with extra batteries - Anti-histamine tablets and after-bite cream in case of insect bites - Trousers and tops that are suitable for hiking in the jungle

You can hike and kayak all year round, however, the best time is in the Brazilian autumn and winter (March to August) when it’s cooler, drier and sunnier. During these months temperatures are around 25°C during the day, dropping to around 15°C at night, and humidity is low.

December, January and February are the tropical summer months which are very hot (up to 35°C), very humid and rainfall is higher.

The coast does get very busy around public holidays such as Easter, when Brazilians vacate the cities for a break by the ocean, so if you prefer your trip to be quieter, it’s best to avoid these periods.

Ilha Bela is accessed by a short ferry from the mainland town of São Sebastião, which is approximately three hours and thirty minutes drive from Sao Paulo and six hours from Rio de Janeiro. There are regular, comfortable and safe buses running throughout this part of Brazil, so wherever you are travelling from you’ll be able to get to Ilha Bela easily.

Travelling from the UK, British Airways operates direct flights to Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo (the closest international airport) or LATAM also flies direct to São Paulo. There is a wide choice of airlines offering indirect flights via Europe.

You’ll try a variety of the very best local, home-cooked Brazilian dishes on this trip. Seafood features heavily, in particular, the fresh fish, shrimp and squid from the coastal communities with rice, beans and manioc flour that are the staple ingredients of Brazilian eating.

We are able to cater to dietary requirements - please let us know at the time of booking.


View map

The largest island on Brazil’s coast, Ilhabela is home to volcanic peaks, dense jungle, ancient shipwrecks, 38 recorded waterfalls and more than 40 kilometres of pristine beaches. Much of the archipelago falls into the Ilhabela State park, a UNESCO protected biosphere.

Start point?

You can check into your guesthouse in Ilhabela town anytime on day one - the rest of the day you are free to explore or relax. Your guide will collect you from your guesthouse in Ilhabela Town on Day 2 at 8:00am.

Finish point?

At the end of the trek you will be returned to Ilhabela Town at approximately 17:30.

Getting there and away?

Ilhabela itself is accessed by a ferry from the mainland town of São Sebastião, which is approximately three hours and thirty minutes drive from Sao Paulo and six hours from Rio de Janeiro. Local transportation is good in Brazil, with regular, comfortable and safe buses running.

From the UK, British Airways operate direct flights to both Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, with LATAM also flying direct to São Paulo. There are also a wide-choice of airlines that fly indirect via Europe to all the main Brazilian airports.

What to Expect

Day 1: Travel to Ilhabela

Make your own way to the island of Ilhabela. Check into the pousada and enjoy your first night in this picturesque spot. Choose one of the many local restaurants to eat dinner (not included).

Day 2: Hike Through the Rainforest and Soak in Natural Pools

Your guide will collect you early this morning from your guesthouse.

Follow the road south to the start of the Bonete Trail and then enter an unspoilt slice of lush and rich Atlantic rainforest.

Cross the Laje and Areado Rivers and stop for a soak in a natural pool and a shower beneath a wild waterfall.

Visit the Buraco do Cação, or Shark Hole, a deep slit in the coastal cliffs that leads to a canyon-like cavity filled with trees and vegetation.

Continue on to the fishing village of Bonete, the largest, traditional caiçara community on the island, where you’ll stay tonight and enjoy lunch prepared by a renowned local cook.

After spending the afternoon exploring the village, including the white sand beach and the river lined with fishing canoes, sit down for a traditional caiçara light meal with the locals, before spending the night in a guesthouse.

Total time walked – 6 hours

Day 3: Swim off Remote Beaches

After breakfast set off to explore the island’s quiet beaches.

We stop to visit Enchovas Beach, covered in rounded stones that rolled down the river and accumulated all along the beach.

Continue along the southern coast to Indaiauba Beach, a barely visited stretch of sand, for a snack, swim and the chance to rest before tackling the most challenging section of the trek so far.

Follow a trail through the forest as it enters the wild and remote Eastern side of the island, crossing quiet stretches of sand and remote coastline, before stopping at the fishing community of Castelhanos Beach, where a late lunch will be prepared by another skilled local cook.

Enjoy the village, or grab some sun on the beach, then in the evening sit down for a home-cooked meal before spending the night in another locally run B&B.

Day 4: Kayaking and Lagoons

After breakfast and following a briefing from your guide, it’s time to climb into your kayak.

Paddle out into Canto da Lagoa Bay and see the volcanic peaks and vivid green rainforest of Ilhabela from the water.

Beach the Kayaks at Vermelha beach and swim in a secluded lagoon, with plenty of time for some sunbathing and relaxation.

For experienced kayakers, you’ll continue following the coast to pretty Figueira Beach, set within the boundaries of Ilhabela State Park.

Enjoy some more time on the sand and a Caipirinha, before heading back to Ilhabela Town in a 4x4 where your island adventure will end.

Total time kayaking – 4 hours

Please note that all kayaking is subject to weather and sea conditions - your guide will choose the best route for the group based on these.


You’ll stay in a variety of local pousadas, or guesthouses, during this trip. The first night is spent in Ilhabela town, on the channel side of the island, while on night two you’ll stay in a locally run guesthouse in the small fishing community of Bonete. All will be simple but clean and characterful.

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