Ilhabela has no shortage of stunning beaches. Those on the west coast facing São Sebastião have calmer waters, but they are also smaller and often more crowded. They can be easily reached by car as well as the municipal bus line that goes up and down the main paved road. This road extends along the western coast from Porto do Frade in the south to Ponta das Canas at the northern tip, where strong breezes attract windsurfers and kite surfers.
South from Ponta das Canas, among the nicest beaches are tiny Praia do Viana, Feiticeira, and Praia do Julião, all of which are relatively tranquil and popular with families. The young and restless tend to congregate on Praia do Curral, known for its restaurants, bars, and nightly festas where DJs and dancers take to the sand. Its neighbor, the more tranquil but up-and-coming Praia Veloso, is the last beach accessible by car.
The most gorgeous and wild beaches are those on the eastern coast—which also happen to be the most tricky to get to. While some beaches can be reached by following the hiking trails that wind through the jungle, others are only accessible by Jeep, and getting to the most far-flung spots requires a boat.
Praia do Bonete, a tiny fishing village on the southeast coast, attracts surfers, as does Praia de Castelhanos, a magnificent 2-kilometer (1-mile) stretch of beach with a waterfall named after the Castilian pirates that frequented it centuries ago. The macabre name of Praia do Fome came from the slaves who arrived from Africa com fome (“with hunger”) and were taken to this beautiful beach to gain weight before being sold. Relatively more accessible, on the northeastern coast of the island, Jabaquara is a lovely beach fed by two streams and a freshwater lagoon.
Excerpted from the Third Edition of Moon Brazil.