Straddling two sheltered bays, Nova Brasília , in the middle of the island, is the larger of Ilha do Mel ’s two settlements and home to most of its 1,000 residents. An easy 40-minute walk north leads to one of the island’s most beautiful beaches, the 4-kilometer (2.4-mile) stretch of white sand known as Praia da Fortaleza. The fortaleza in question is Fortaleza Nossa Senhora dos Prazeres, an 18th-century Portuguese fortress that offers wonderful views of the bay along with the islands of Superagüi and Ilha das Peças.
A 15-minute walk south along the coast from Nova Brasília  will bring you to the Farol das Conchas. Perched on a verdant hilltop straddling the Praia do Farol and the sheltered cove of Praia de Fora, this 19th-century lighthouse offers wonderful views that are worth the steep climb.
From Praia de Fora, it’s a two-hour walk (best undertaken at low tide and not when it’s rainy due to slippery rocky patches) along the mountainous southeast coast to Encantadas, a pretty little fishing village. Along the way, you’ll pass some of the island’s most attractive white-sand beaches. Praia Grande and Praia do Miguel are surfers’ paradises backed by rugged mountains and luxuriant vegetation.
Closer to Encantadas (and less deserted), Praia de Fora das Encantadas is home to the Gruta das Encantadas, a cavern set in the cliffs that is a hot spot for mermaids (according to local legend).