Being in Rio only for a few days, therefore being somewhat short on time, we still wanted to do a day excursion and get out of the city living. We heard of the Ihla Grande tour before and at our hostel as well, but were approached by a promoter in the streets for this particular booking. We booked through Maravilhosa Tours. Having done similar tours in the past, I think I might have had somewhat expectations about a day trip by boat to a secluded paradise island.
Turns out Ihla Grande is accessible by boats from Andre Dos Reis, which is a town 3hrs away from Rio by bus. See me coming here? We left at 8AM, got in the boat at 11:30AM, off the boat back at 6PM, and then back in Rio at our hostel by 10:30PM. The tour was 150R and we paid directly to our tour guide, either by cash or with credit (while on the moving boat, which I thought was pretty impressive considering that the Pizza Hut delivery guy in Vancouver always have trouble with his reception…)! Our guide, Karla, was a very lovely lady who spoke Portuguese, Spanish and English. My friend and I were the only two English speakers of the entire BOAT (about 150 passengers) so she was very nice to translate everything for us!
The bus drive was great – it was quite a luxury bus which allowed us to finally get some good sleep (hostel dorms can be challenging for that). We stopped mid-way at a tourist restaurant/shop/bathroom stop. The boat we were on – the Maravilhosa Andre – was very pretty but really crowded. By the time we got out of our bus to join the others on the boat, we could barely find seats. It was more like a transit boat… and food and drinks were not included. So here we went and sailed towards Ihla Grande!
We did a total of 3 stops, including one 30min snorkeling stop, about 30min at 2 beaches and a 1h stop where we had buffet lunch (included). I decided to not snorkel as the equipment wasn’t included (additional 15R) and based on the amount of tourists and boats in the water I’d figure the fishes would probably not be around… Which turned out to be the case! Still worth jumping off the boat and swimming around though! The view is beautiful and the beaches are very nice too, however, during high season, I think the tours are too crowded to be fully enjoyable. I would recommend it though during lower season when there is a bit less people and more room to enjoy the beaches and the water!