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Brazil - Ilha Grande bay area
Praia do Dentista - Isla da Gipoia

Always to follow the LLLL rule: lead, log, longitude and lookout. Keep an eye around and always be sure of where you are and what you are supposed to have below your craft

The inlets and islands between Angra dos Reis and Parati, including the island of Isla Grande, around 50 miles west of Rio de Janeiro, are among the finest tropical sailing areas of South America. Well sheltered from the relentless swell that pesters the whole continental coast from the E and SE, the area has numberless anchorages and opportunities ashore for the curious travelers. Food is excellent and both, Angra and Parati, boast excellent fish markets.

Ilha Grande

Suggested tour : Angra – Saco do Retiro – Ilha de Itanhanga – Gipoia W side – Ilha Grande (bahia do Pouso and walk to Praia Lopez Mendez – Abraao – Lagoa Azul and Tapera beach – Saco da Longa – Praia dos Meros – Isla da Cotia - Parati  

Mileage (approx) : 70-90 miles

Difficulty : low

Weather : in most season, October to April the weather is hot, very hot. Light daily sea breezes can be expected for a little bit of sailing. From June to October watch out for cold fronts that arrive from Patagonia with strength and low temperatures, usually beginning with a violent squall that has been recorded at 60 knots at times, even in the most sheltered anchorages. Williwaws can develop in the N side of Ilha Grande during these fronts. Cold fronts can last for up to 2 days, with average winds of 20 to 25 knots. The swell can get into the deepest bays and coves, with the notable exception of Parati Mirim and Isla da Cotia.  Good cruise planning, weather monitoring and the choice of anchorages are therefore of the utmost importance and cannot be overlooked.

History and art : Parati is one of the cutest and trendiest villages of the Brazilian coast.

Gastronomy : the area, like most of the country, has a lot to offer to the demanding gourmet traveler. Fresh fish ranks high in the local menus, and we belong to the school preaching the least possible effort in cooking it. Actually, most local catch provides spectacular material for sushis and sashimis. Prawns are simply spectacular.  

Recommended restaurants of the Blue Prawn guide : there is a wide selection of restaurants around. We’d suggest the Pestana Angra for the quality and style. But this is an area where the best surprises come from the popular restaurants and taverns, where fresh fish is simply fried by old ladies. Unfortunately many restaurants pretends to be what they will never be, so either go for the top end with a recommended carte or for the bottom joints and enjoy the surprises.


Ports and anchorages in the Bahia de Ilha Grande

Saco do Retiro (22.59’20’’S, 44.19’58’’W) and around: deep and very sheltered series of bays N of Angra, with an unexpected collection of luxury villas and hotels, some with private helicopter. The Pestana is here, and a Caipirinha on the deck is certainly worth the expense. Tens of small lonely beaches, perfect mud bottom and holding ground. Loud music and parties around in summer.

Itanhanga (22.59’21’’S, 44.24’43’’W)  a private couple of islands linked by a sandspit. Posh. Very sheltered bay and spectacular waters, that can get crowded.  Strong squalls in cold fronts, great holding ground.

Gipoia W side and Praia do Dentista (23.03’57’’S, 44.21’21’’W): the Isla da Gipoia is particularly beautiful, especially the wild W side. We favour, when not crowded, the Dentista beach in the SW corner, although at times open to the swell. One can stay around this island for days…

Enseada do Pouso (23 09’28’’s, 44 08’18’’W) – Ilha Grande: a very nice and decently sheltered bay in itself, it is the starting point of the trek leading to Praia Lopez Mendez, supposedly the most beautiful in Brazil. Considering that it’s famous in surfers’ circles, one cannot expect to anchor here with any hope of tranquility.

Lagoa Azul (23 05’03’’S, 44 14’17’’W): popular anchorage that deserves a mention for its waters and prettiness. Also visit the Fregueisa de Santana behind the peninsula. A bombproof anchorage in Saco do Ceu is a mile or so E of there. But beware the williwaws that can be brutal here.

N side of Isla Grande: we prefer the anchorages in Enseada la Longa and Tapera (23 07’51’’S, 44 17’13’’W), calm and obsessively religious the first, popular and party-oriented the second. Good holding, greenery everywhere, great beaches, cheap bars, the lot… If the weather is noce, stop at the Praia Dos Meros, the cove at the SW extreme of Ilha Grande. It’s just magnificent, with rocks, beaches, forests and blue waters.

Parati Mirim and Isla da Cotia (23 13’38’’S, 44 38’25’’W): after so many miles from Patagonia, finally a properly deep inlet. Amazing to think that such a thing can be found only 1500 miles S or 1000 miles N… Practically deserted coasts, 6 metres of water (mud bottom), great fishing, a beach bar or 2, a pond, forested shores, white beaches… Some sailors stay here for weeks.

Parati Bay: the small colonian jewel of Parati does not need an introduction, it’s a must see, although we prefer to jump quickly to the fish market (close to the church by the sea) and retreat to one of the magnificent bays along the S side of the gulf. We favour the one in 23 12’33’’S and 44 39’57’’W, where you might meet a massive polar steel cutter that belongs to the Brazilian navigator Amyr Klink. Not a bad choice as a home port…

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