Lopes Mendes Beach, on Ihla Grande, is often said to be Brazil’s most beautiful beach. And Brazil, you’d imagine, would have some pretty good contenders for the title.
As an Australian I love a good beach. I could feel Lopes Mendes Beach calling out to me like a siren’s song. I couldn’t resist.
Ihla Grande was once a leper colony, and after that a high-security prison. Not a good start, but its years of exclusion has kept the island wild and unpopulated. Today there are around 5,000 people living on the island; the majority in the town of Vila do Abraão.
Ihla Grande falls within the Tamoios Environmental Protection Area. There are no cars, and no roads. Access around the island is by sea or by foot.
Accommodation is mostly low-key, and scattered along the various beaches on the island.
From Vila do Abraão – if that is where you are staying – it is a two hour trek to reach Lopes Mendes Beach.
Lopes Mendes Beach, Ihla Grande
Backdrop: jungle vegetation.
Overall verdict: it’s a decent beach, not as empty and remote as I was hoping, and the jungle-covered hills that surround it not quite as lushly jungle-covered as I was expecting.
It’s a beautiful beach, but I couldn’t really find anything that made it stand out from the crowd.
But Australians are spoilt when it comes to beaches. Lopes Mendes is a brilliant beach, and Ihla Grande is a great spot for a relaxing escape.
Practical information and how to reach Ihla Grande:
From Rio de Janeiro you need to make your way to the towns of Mangaratiba or Jacarei (approximately two to three hours by bus), from where you can board a ferry to Vila do Abraão. More transport info here.