Ilhabela’s main settlement is the pretty little town of Vila Ilhabela. It is located on the sheltered west coast of the island, a 20-minute drive north from the ferry dock at Perequê. Aside from a small (fairly touristy) commercial center, the town has some attractive vestiges of its colonial past, including the charming whitewashed Igreja Matriz, perched picturesquely on a hilltop.
Several kilometers before the entrance to town, on the way to the ferry, is an impressive 18th-century mansion belonging to the Fazenda Engenho d’Agua, one of the most important of Ilhabela’s many former sugar plantations. This history of cane cultivation explains the preponderance of fine cachaças on the island.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition