Hiking to Lopes Mendes Beach on Ilha Grande

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Overcast skies on Ilha Grande

The day begins with rain and the day ends with rain. My adventures in Brazil continue to be wet. I awoke on my first day on Ilha Grande a bit disappointed because the weather on my Brazilian adventure just wasn’t cooperating. The sky was over cast yet again. At least it was raining…yet.

I decided I should make the most of my time on this tropical island especially after all the time and confusion it took to get here (see boat trip post), so I decided to load up my backpack and head off on one of the numerous hiking trails the island had to offer.

The most famous beach on the island is Praia Lopes Mendes. The Guardian ranked it #7 in the top 10 beaches of Brazil. In 2010, Vogue magazine ranked it as one of the top 10 beaches in the world (I never could find the article where this article could be verified, but it is touted all over Brazil as the gospel truth). With all this praise, I figured it was a beach worth visiting.

Hiking in the rainforest on the T10 Trail

Hiking through the rainforest

The majority of the island is state park so it has designated hiking trails that are, for the most part, well-marked. From Abraão to Lopes Mendes is around 6 km, which should take around 2.5 – 3 hours. The hostel owner informed me that I was totally fine to do this hike alone and that the overcast weather was preferable to a super sunny day because it would be less hot. He also warned me to take water with me and snacks as there are food options on the beach, but they are limited.

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Hike starts at the end of the beach

With my instructions from the hostel owner and a message to him to come find me if I wasn’t back by dark, I set out on my hike to one of the top 10 most beautiful beaches IN THE WORLD. OMG! This was going to be awesome.
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The hike started on the beach right by the city centre. My instructions were to follow the beach to the end then follow the signs marked “T10” all the way to Lopes Mendes. Occasionally there were spectacular views over from the island over the sea.

View of Vila do Abraão from the T10 trail

View of Vila do Abraão from the T10 trail

View from the T10 trail

Glimpses of the Sea while hiking

The trail went up and down over the mountains present on this island through the rainforesty jungle.
Hiking through the rainforest

In the beach, in the sunshine

Me looking smug thinking I have made it to Lopes Mendes

The hike was pretty great, but still really effing hot due to the high humidity in the jungle. About halfway through the sun began to shine and I really began to hustle because I wanted to make it to Lopes Mendes under sunny blue skies. Thus, I began to power walk on my hike thinking that each white sand stretch glimmering in the sun before me on the trail was the famed Lopes Mendes. I was wrong and I was wrong again. There are 2, count them TWO, other beaches en route to the famed Lopes Mendes. I totally looked at a map before setting off on this journey, but yet I was still surprised when both times I walked out of the jungle and onto a beautiful sandy beach that was not the famous Lopes Mendes beach. I’m an idiot!

These other beaches were pretty spectacular in their own right and could probably be considered for top 10 status if not for Lopes Mendes and its remote location, white sugary sand, and aquamarine waves.

The first beach was Praia Das Palmas
First Beach of the hike, Praia das Palmas

Boats on Praia das Palmas

Island Paradise at Praia das Palmas

Dock on Praia das Palmas

The next beach was Praia dos Mangues, which again was spectacular in its own right.
Second beach on the hike, Praia Pouso

Praia Pouso views

I really thought I was there at this second beach until I saw a boat dropping off tourists who were didn’t want to hike (read that as were too lazy). I saw all of them get off a boat and file onto a trail into the jungle. It was only then that I realized that once again I was on the wrong beach. Then I came across this sign and furiously hustled across the island for my last stop. For real this time, Lopes Mendes beach! Holla!
The final leg to the famous Lopes Mendes Beach

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Chillin’ at Lopes Mendes

After this final leg I was indeed at Lopes Mendes beach. I could now see what all the hype was about. The beach was beautiful with white sand and blue ocean. The best part was there were so few people there. Maybe because the day had started out grey and blah, the tourists had stayed away. When walking down the practically deserted beach I realized I had made an excellent decision in hiking to Lopes Mendes.
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I secured myself a spot on the beach and ran like a little kid to the ocean. The water a bit chilly, but I eventually managed to take a swim.
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The clouds roll in

I managed to enjoy the beach for a good while until the clouds began to roll in drastically changing the vibe at the beach. The new weather made it seem hostile to be on the beach as opposed to relaxing. This could be due to the fact that I was a two hour hike from my hostel. I could get really soaked if I had to hike back. Luckily, there are water taxis that will take you back to Vila do Abraão in a covered boat. I just had to hike back Praia das Mangues, pay my fee, and I could be swept away via boat. The water taxis can’t come to Lopes Mendes beach because it is on the open ocean and the waves make it too difficult for passengers to board.
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Docking at Vila do Abraão

I wanted to hold out on the beach until 3 pm, but around 2:45 pm the wind kicked up so fiercely that the majority of the people still lounging on the beach packed up their stuff and hustled over to the boat launch. I joined them. The boat ride was pretty nice even though the rain never actually appeared. By the time we got back to Vila do Abraão, the clouds were covering the mountains outside of town.

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2 responses to “Hiking to Lopes Mendes Beach on Ilha Grande

  1. Pingback: Brazilian Beach Culture: Bikinis & Beyond | Ramblin' Rangecommander·

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