It is a very appropriate area if you are looking for sandy beaches and hot/sunny weather. The average temperature in the coldest month (July) is 17-27C, but most of the year it is around 30C. We went in middle April. We were lucky and enjoyed 33C every day, we did not see a single cloud in the sky. I have never been during the high season, but I have heard it can get crowded to an uncomfortable point. So better to choose a good time of the year. I can tell you that mid-April worked great for me.
Where to stay
The town itself is not very beautiful nor touristic, but the municipality includes 365 offshore islands, and most of them are fantastic. So if you are planning a trip around this area, you will probably need to find a good hotel or resort outside the town. Ideally not too far from the port, where you can hire boat tours and trips.
This time, I stayed in a 5 stars all inclusive hotel: Vila Galé Eco Resort Angra. I really liked the place and I totally recommend it. The strongest point is the infrastructure and the closeness between the rooms, the swimming pool, and the sea. The location is also great, with a nice private beach. The pool includes a bar, an Olympic size area for swimming and two other smaller pools for children. They offer a great variety of food, including the main self-service canteen and two restaurants. There is also a bar next to the beach and one in the main building. The drinks are good as well, they do not have top brands, but the caipirinhas are excellent, and the beer (Itaipava) draught is opened for self-service as well.
The big downside of the hotel is the Internet connection (which can also be seen as an advantage if you want to disconnect from the World). You can only use one device per room, and normally it does not work. We had to go next to the reception to use it, it was useless to try in the rooms or in any other place. I would also recommend choosing a room in the South wing, on the 3rd floor if it possible, so you can see the pool and the sea from your balcony. Other facilities are a spa, gym, nursery, volleyball, football and tennis court.
To get to Vila Galé you can take a bus to Angra dos Reis from Rio de Janeiro (~ 3 hours) and then another bus from Angra dos Reis to the hotel (~ 25 minutes). You take the latter from the city center, next to the port, and it is announced to Vila Velha. This bus costs only 3 R$ (Real/BRL), and it is quite handy if you want to visit the town and/or take a boat from the port. However; the best option is to take a van or taxi. The hotel works in partnership with a company called Angra Way, and they do both transfers and tours.
Normally a full day boat trip includes a few items in the following list. We hired a boat in the same beach of the hotel. We paid R$ 1400, and we visited the first 5 items. We also had a barbecue which was prepared on the same boat (see picture below). Only 2 stops out of 5 had a pier/wharf. This clarification can be important for those who cannot swim.
Lagoa Azul (Ilha Grande) TA
This is one of the hot spots of Ilha Grande (Big Island). Crystal clear water, ideal for snorkeling. Plenty of fishes and also turtles. You can easily see at least 10 meters down. The only problem is the crowd. Is it a very famous place and a lot of boats stop there.
Freguesia de Santana (Ilha Grande) TA
Only 20 minutes away from Lagoa Azul, this small beach is beautiful. Ideal for jumping from the boat and then swim to the coast. From there you can feel how Ilha Grande remains largely undeveloped. There a few rocky areas that are quite good for snorkeling as well.
Botinas Island TA
Two tiny islands in the middle of the sea. Not a lot to do there. You can basically jump from the boat, swim to any of them and climb one of its rocks. Very pretty anyway.
Praia Das Flechas (Gipoia Island)
There is some infrastructure here, including a pier, a restaurant, and a beach bar. There are also several beaches and even some light hiking trails. So this spot could be a good option to spend a few hours or even a day.
Praia Da Piedade (Piety Beach) TA
This is a wonderful place, also part of Gipoia Island. It is very relaxing and calm. Its main spot is a small beach with the sea at both sides. There is a tiny and pretty white church (see picture above), which I guess it is related to its name (religious or reverent). There are a few little and picturesque houses and two piers. Overall it is a very original and pleasant place.
Cataguas Island TA
Another prominent tourist spot. You can take a boat from Angra Dos Reis for R$50, which takes around 30 minutes. Being close to the town makes it handy, but also crowded. Better to avoid weekends and high season to visit it.
Lopes Mendes Beach (Ilha Grande) TA
This is the second best beach in Brazil according to TA. 3 km of soft sand and turquoise water. You can easily get there from Angra dos Reis. You first need to go to Vila do Abraão, which is the main village of Ilha Grande. Boats depart from the town, next to the main touristic information point in the port. Single tickets cost R$ 40 and the journey takes around 35 minutes. It can get very busy so better to make a reservation. You can do it in the same place, they would take you name and you do not need to pay in advance. Once in Abraão you have two options:
- Take a taxi boat (faster and smaller than the previous one) to Pouso (Mangues) and then walk 20 minutes to the beach (T11 trail on the map)
- Walk (hike) to Pouso (Mangues) taking T10 and then T11 as option 1. The former path is 6 km long and takes about 3 hours. If you like hiking, adventures, rainforests, animals (monkeys) and/or nature this should be your option. Do not forget your bottle of water.