After going through all the troubles with trying to book domestic flights with the lack of help and ability to speak Portugese, Hanhwa and I’s trip to Fernando de Noranha was a fail. We decided instead, to take an easier way to a beach escape to Ilha Grande. Brazil, in comparison, to the US is very cheap… and a bus ride to the Ilha Grande was about only 5USD but this price does not include the stress and time to take the bus. Instead, we opted out in the more “expensive” route, which was a private bus arranged by the Lemon Spirit Hostel to go straight from Rio de Janiero to Ilha Grande for only about $30USD, which is still pretty affordable for the services given. It was about a 4-hour drive on the 10-seater van to the port, and then from the port a 45 minute boat ride to the island. The ride was very nice, clean, A/Ced. The view along the coast was amazing, but Hanhwa and I were just too tired to enjoy it. We fell asleep while the bus drove along the Brazilian coast to the soundtrack of Michel Jackson blaring for the whole 4 hours straight. At first we were singing along, because who doesn't like Michael Jackson?! But then it repeated so many times!!! I swear to God that the song "Thriller" was screaming in the background of my dreams. After the bus ride, we hopped onto a tiny speedboat to Ilha Grande. The 40 minute boat ride definitely woke both Hanhwa and I, as the scenery was beautiful, lush green forests, deep emerald waters, mountains, blue skies... We docked at Via Abraao, a cute little colorful village right along the edge of the island. Pleasantly surprised, our Pousada (a small, family owned B&B) was only a couple steps away from the dock. By the time we got to our Pousada, it was getting a bit dark, but we didn't want to waste our day, so we tried to find some thing to explore on the island before the sun set.. we decided to explore Parque Nacional de Ilha Grande, the national park filled with waterfalls, aqueducts, black sand beaches, caves, and endless options of places to explore. With the sun setting and the distance to anywhere else being far (literally 2+ miles to anywhere in the park!), we went to the black sand beach, Preta Beach, to enjoy the sunset. Luckily this beach was only about a 10-minute walk in. Walking along the black sand beach with our toes in the cold seawater, the colorful clouds floating above other islands illuminating the sunset along the horizon…ahhh such a relaxing time after our long journey. Preta Beach is highly recommended to go! Definitely will be coming back to this park to see what else it has to offer!
Once it started to get dark, I started to get hungry (I'm always hungry). We decided to try out a restaurant recommended by our Pousada. At the end of the main "street" is this cute little restaurant decorated with colorful lit up umbrellas in the sand, homey wooden tables and chairs, and tropical themed placemats. We opted to sit by the beach to enjoy the last glimmers of the sunset. We ordered a seafood platter…. Boy was that delicious! We had giant grilled fish filets, shrimps, and calamari on a hot plate topped with cheese and veggies. Yum! But while we were feasting, we were getting feasted ON!!! The mosquitoes seriously love our Kimchee Blood! The waiter saw how we were getting eaten alive, so he brought us some Off Lotion. Thank you Jesus! With our tropical (yet very strong) caipirinha's and our grilled seafood platter, nothing could be more satisfying than at this moment. Food coma came over us, so we planned to take a small nap and then go out to the one club on the island. Our nap… turned into sleep. I guess we were exhausted from all the partying we did in Rio! In the middle of the night sometime, I was woken up to the sound of BOOMS!! I went out to find myself watching a fireworks show! Well… at least our first night ended with some sort of excitement!