Brazil is known for its beautiful and friendly people, the samba, throwing the largest Carnival festival in the world, and, of course the amazing Amazon jungle. But did you know that Brazil is also home to gorgeous islands? So if you have always dreamed of escaping to an exotic tropical locale, you’ll want to check out the following stunning Brazilian islands.
See also: 11 Best Places to Stay in Brazil
This mountainous island, which was made a state park in 1962, is located off of the southernmost point of the state of Sao Paulo. The waters around this island are teeming with many different species of whales, seals and dolphins. And if you’re lucky, you might even get a chance to swim with some wild dolphins. As for the island itself, Ilha do Cardoso is a great escape, especially if you’re a nature lover. This lovely island boasts a rugged coastline, pretty waterfalls, natural pools and forests. Like the waters surrounding it, this island is also teeming with life. Some of the creatures you might see here include monkeys, alligators, otters and parrots.
Ilha do Marajo is one of Brazil’s most unique islands. For one thing, it is not located in the ocean, but can be found at the mouth of the Amazon River. It is also very large, about the size of Switzerland. Ilha do Marajo is, in fact, the largest fluvial island in the world. This island is also famous for its tidal bore waves, which occur in the river and can be as high as 4 meters (13 feet). Ilha do Marajo is also home to thousands of birds, including herons and stunning scarlet ibis. The pace on this island is slow and relaxed. Don’t be surprised, for example, to find water buffalo wandering its streets. So if you’re searching for a quiet vacation in a natural setting, this island would make the perfect getaway.
Ilha do Campeche, which is located on the east coast of Florianopolis, boasts stunning white sand beaches and its very clear water are perfect for snorkeling. But this is not just another beautiful island. It is also home to more than 100 ancient petroglyphs. If you are interested in seeing some of these archaeological treasures, you can take a guided tour to see them. To preserve this amazing island, the number of visitors allowed per day is limited. In addition, visitors are only given four hours to explore the small island. Ilha do Campeche is also closed to visitors during the winter months.
Located off of the coast of Pernambuco, Ilha de Itamaraca is a popular tourist destination, especially with residents of the nearby cities of Recife and Olinda. This charming island boasts a number of pretty beaches and historical sites, including Fort Orange, which was built by the Dutch in 1631. And if you love watersports, you’ll find plenty to do on Ilha de Itamaraca. You could, for instance, explore the mangroves on a kayak, learn how to kitesurf, go jet skiing or simply enjoy swimming in the warm waters that surround this island. Also on the island is a Manatee Preservation Center, which is an especially popular attraction for animal lovers and children.
Its name means Honey Island, and those who have visited Ilha do Mel will tell you that this is, indeed, one very sweet island. Blessed with lovely beaches and dense jungles, Ilha do Mel is perfect for a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. There are, for example, no cars on this island, so you’ll either have to walk or rent a bike to get around. And its inhabitants are very keen on keeping this island as pristine as possible while also catering to ecotourists. If you decide to visit Ilha do Mel, make sure to check out one of its most popular attractions, the sea cave known as Gruta das Encantadas or Grotto of the Enchanted.
Ilhabela is a group of islands located on the northern coast of Sao Paulo. Its name means beautiful island, and visitors to Ilhabela are quick to discover why. These Brazilian islands are blessed with lovely beaches and more than 360 waterfalls. And its thick tropical jungles are home to wild monkeys and about 300 species of birds, including toucans. Ilhabela, which is known as Brazil’s sailing capital, hosts the Rolex International Sailing Week each year — the largest sailing competition held in Latin America. Other watersports, including surfing and snorkeling, are also very popular on these islands.
This island offers a lot of variety in a relatively small space. On Ilha de Santa Catarina, you will find Florianopolis, the capital of the state of Santa Catarina. This city is known for its exciting nightlife and boasts a historic downtown area. Ilha de Santa Catarina is also home to many gorgeous beaches, including Joaquina Beach, a popular surfing hot spot. In addition to its beaches, Ilha de Santa Catarina also boasts beautiful Brazilian pine tree forests, lakes and dunes. This island, which is connected to the mainland by two suspensions bridges, is a favorite vacationing spot for tourists from other countries such as Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.
This beautiful island is probably best known for the village of Morro de Sao Paulo. This little village has no streets or cars, and boasts stunning little palm tree-fringed beaches that bear the easy-to-remember names of First, Second, Third and Fourth. Second Beach is the most popular with travelers and boasts numerous bars and restaurants. Ilha de Tinhare is also home to several other settlements, including Grapua, Gamboa and Galeao. If you decide to visit Ilha de Tinhare, you’ll find plenty to do. Its waters are clear and warm, perfect for swimming or snorkeling. Trekking about the island is also a popular activity. There is also a small neighboring island, Boipeba, that many travelers like to visit.
If you’re looking for an island that has remained largely undeveloped, consider visiting Ilha Grande, which is located approximately 160 km (100 miles) from Rio de Janeiro. Over the years, this island has been used for some interesting purposes. It was once a leper colony, and for more than 90 years it was also a prison that housed some of Brazil’s worst criminals. But once the prison shut down in 1994, it started to attract tourists, who are drawn to this island by its beautiful beaches and amazing rain forests. And because Ilha Grande is a nature preserve, it is home to incredible wildlife, including monkeys, parrots, iguanas and capybaras.
Plan ahead if you want to visit Fernando de Noronha, an archipelago of 21 islands and islets in the Atlantic Ocean. To protect these fragile islands, only 460 tourists are allowed to visit these unspoiled beauties per day. And you’ll definitely want to include Fernando de Noronha on your itinerary if you can. Conde Nast called this archipelago “possibly the most relaxing and most beautiful place” in the world. And the New York Times included Fernando de Noronha on its 2014 list of must-visit destinations. This high praise is well deserved. The waters around Fernando de Noronha are crystal clear and teeming with fish, dolphins and turtles, making them perfect for snorkeling and diving. You’ll also find plenty of lovely, deserted beaches, pretty coves and lovely waterfalls on these very special and very exclusive islands.