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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.