From Ilha Grande to Paraty and back to Rio

We’ve just taken off on a flight out of Rio, on our way to Brasilia, with fabulous views over Sugarloaf and the many bays and islands of the city. It’s exactly 4 weeks since we arrived in Rio and began our family gap year! The time has flown!

Copacabana beach, Sugarloaf to the right of the wing and Christ the Redeemer sits atop the peak on the right of the pic with his head in the clouds!

We didn’t expect to stay in Rio de Janeiro state for a month. To be truthful, (and to the horror of many of our friends) we didn’t have much planned for Brazil at all

and two days before we left our friend Jo eventually sat me down with iPad and G&T and set me in the direction of holiday-rentals which found us a great apartment for our first week in Rio … with a great last minute discount too – thanks Jo.. The site also led us to our Ilha Grande beach house 🙂

Anyway, armed with our Lonely Planet Brazil book and with WiFi (painfully slow most of the time) in most places, it has been good to take our time to relax, unwind and at the same time figure out where we’re going and how we’ll get there!

We spent almost two weeks on beautiful Ilha Grande. It’s a truly gorgeous unspoilt gem two hours south from Rio with many lovely bays, gentle blue waters backed by virgin rainforest.

We had planned to stay a week after finding a fabulous beach house to rent called Casa do Canto. A lovely former fisherman’s cottage right on the beach, beautifully converted by its architect owners into a spacious, cool, living space and with breathtaking views. We were SO lucky to find it 🙂

The Caso Do Canto

Caso Do Canto

Inside the lovely beachhouse

The view along Abraao Bay

A week flew by and simply wasn’t enough so we extended our stay by almost another week, a few more days in the beach house and a few days in Pousada Cauca – a small friendly guesthouse set back from the beach in a tropical garden with a little plunge pool and waterfall that the kids thought was fab!

Relaxing in the the gardens of Pousada Cauca

Martin relaxes whilst the girls splash and swim!

We went by boat one day to one of the island’s most beautiful bays, Praia Lopez Mendez. Fabinho, who’d met us and brought us to our beachhouse from the pier when we arrived, took us by boat to Pouzo beach from where we walked a 20 minute trail over the hill and through forest where we spotted small monkeys to Lopes Mendes, a 2km long, fabulous wide white sandy bay, backed by rainforest and edged by great climbing boulders, said by many to be the most beautiful in Brazil.

Lopes Mendes Bay

We enjoyed splashing and wave jumping in the shallower waters and watching surfers further out. We built sandcastles in the perfect sand, the boys went rock climbing and Ben and I both ran the length of the beach and back barefoot, a bit heavy going on the ankles but pretty exhilarating – it inspired me to start running along the beach at Abraao, the main bay in the mornings after that to pick up our fresh bread for breakfast!

Ben had an amazing time steering the boat and both he and Zoe tried catching fish on the way back to Abraao – not lucky this time but Ben is keen to do some more fishing and see if he can catch our supper!

Our boat man in training!

Trying to catch a fish for tea!

We watched the opening of the Olympics and felt a little homesick – we’re enjoying watching snippets of it when we get the chance and the children have been creating their own olympic events running, swimming, gymnastics, shot put and other events on the beach when they can!!

We sailed back to the mainland on the public ferry – R$ 7 each and under 5s free compared to R$ 40 each for the tourist catamaran which is 45 minutes instead of 90!

Heading back to the mainland on the ferry

Its not hard to set Ilha Grande as first benchmark for top paradises visited! But then we headed south again to the lovely old colonial town called Paraty which is also beautiful!

The lovely colonial centre of Paraty

Highlights included an idyllic schooner trip to nearby islands to swim and snorkel, a jeep trip inland to some beautiful waterfalls where all the kids bravely tackled a huge rock slide into chilly pools below. Not to mention traipsing around the pretty cobbled streets of the old town and eating at a super Thai restaurant run by a German ex pat…. but more on Paraty in another post.

Paraty jeep trip

Back to Rio yesterday, a comfy four hour bus ride and just time to treat ourselves to great sushi in Copacapana for supper that we’d missed the first time around. Ben and Zoe we’re super adventurous , Lara ate a bowl of rice and a couple of pieces of salmon before curling up in her chair and falling asleep – she is becoming expert at this!!!

Sleepy girl

On our map of Brazil it looks like we’ve covered about half a centimeter – its like I remember travelling in Australia – a day on the road and you’ve barely moved on the map but now we’re flying a couple of legs or more, we plan to be in Belem at the mouth of the Amazon in less than two weeks.

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. freespirit41
    Aug 10, 2012 @ 17:25:16

    Great first month of your gap year!
    EOM xxxxx


  2. Val
    Aug 10, 2012 @ 18:34:39

    We are really enjoying reading about your adventures as we sit in the garden with a Pimms in sunshine – yes summer has at last arrived. Keep blogging – it’s such fun to follow. Love Val and Graham. X


    • Mo
      Aug 10, 2012 @ 22:59:41

      Thanks Val, Glad you are enjoying the blog and also having some summer at last!! Mmmm – no Pimms here, hadn’t thought about that, though missing home coffee! Mo xx


  3. katebil
    Aug 12, 2012 @ 19:26:04

    Sounds like you are having a great adventure so far, long may it continue. Kate xx


    • Mo
      Aug 13, 2012 @ 00:55:29

      Hi Kate, Thanks! Hope all good with you too…we just got in from dinner and watching the London Olympic closing ceremony, felt a little bit homesick but only a little bit! Mo xx

      Sent from my iPhone


  4. charleneoldham
    Aug 22, 2012 @ 15:54:05


  5. Andy Arnold
    Aug 31, 2012 @ 15:07:44

    Loving your posts. Much more interesting than Accountancy software and a perfect read for a Friday afternoon before jumping on the tube and train and heading home. Really pleased you are all having a smashing time. Have the kids picked up any Portuguese?


    • Martin Clark
      Sep 01, 2012 @ 16:27:21

      Hi Andy

      Our Portuguese is still pretty shameful but we get by and can order food and basics. We thought we would be less time in Brazil and onto Spanish speaking sooner (we will be doing proper Spanish lessons in Ecuador).

      Kids make friends by smiling, pointing and sharing. Bit like Nursery?

      Hope you are all well.



    • Mo
      Sep 01, 2012 @ 17:29:57

      Glad you’re enjoying the blog Andy! Ben has been exchanging English words for Portuguese with some of the people on the boat. We’re trying but I wouldn’t exactly say we’re fluent!!! I am looking forward to Spanish speaking and finally resurrecting my dormant O level Spanish skills! Portuguese is less similar to Spanish than I’d have thought!

      Sent from my iPhone


  6. Gretchen
    Dec 25, 2012 @ 14:52:24

    A late comment to you all, as I am just now reading this! Our family is in Paraty for Christmas and enjoying some of the same sights as well! Your beach houses look just amazing where you stayed prior to Paraty. We look forward to hearing more about your adventure and we’ll share ours as well (we leave for Australia Jan. 1). Gretchen Hollett, and family!


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