Ilha Grande trek to Lopes Mendes

Cooling off at Lopes Mendes

Lopes Mendes is considered one of the top 10 beaches in Brazil. Its sweeping 3 km of pale golden sand and remote location mean you will almost certainly be able to find a quiet spot to yourself. You can get to Lopes Mendes by either a taxi boat followed by a short trek through the rainforest or by a longer trek all the way from Abraão the only town on the island.

This post describes the latter of the above i.e. the more energetic and tough trek from Abraão! The distance was around 8.5 km and the total elevation was 412 m. This took us approximately 4 hours but we did stop several times to take photos and have drinks and snacks. Many people do this trek in 3 hours or less.

We left our pousada (Brazilian bed and breakfast) in Abraão at around 11:00 am heading north along the beach until we came to the small headland where the Aquario Hostel is located. A footpath can be seen off the beach and just before the Che Lagarto Hostel. You follow the footpath round until you see a sign on the right, just before Julia Beach which is the start of the trek.

You can’t really go wrong from here, you just follow the track. Most of the track is sheltered as it winds its way through the rainforest.

View across Ilha Grande

You begin by climbing up a fairly steep hill which seemed to go on for ages! Once this levels out you are rewarded with some great views across the island.


Watch out for spiders… you can also hear the loud and slightly eerie roar of howler monkeys although we didn’t see any.

The path then starts to descend down towards Praia Palmas. Just before we reached the beach we came across a wooden kiosk with a lady selling drinks and boat tickets back to Abraão. We brought both! It was hot and humid and while we had water with us we both welcomed a cold refreshing can too!

Retrieving the can of drink!

Until we dropped one as we had to scramble down this large rock to get onto Palmas  beach… Following a short break by the sea we walked along the length of the beach looking for the continuation of the trail…

The entrance to Pouso Beach

We spotted the sign post for the track back into the rain forest and continued on through more lush green trees and tropical foliage towards the next beach. Again, this led us up a fairly steep track with obstacles such as boulders, roots and a large fallen tree trunk to climb over.

Marola floating bar

Our route took us the length of the gorgeous ‘Caribbean-esq’ sands of Pouso Beach where we walked past ‘Marola’ a floating bar. Pouso Beach was the beach for getting the taxi boat back later. (So we kept this handy bar in mind…)

Initial view of Lopes Mendes

From Pouso Beach there is another 20 minute trek through more rainforest, again up a (smaller) hill and back down again. We could hear the roaring of the waves as we got closer to Lopes Mendes which is located on the Atlantic side of Ilha Grande.

Laura and Chris at Lopes Mendes

By now it was around 3 pm and after nearly 4 hours of trekking up and down hills in a humid 30 degrees we were ready for a refreshing dip in the ocean. With strong currents and rip tides swimmers are advised to take care. The waves were fairly fierce, the sky was looking angrier but what a wild, breathtaking and magnificent beach!

Getting dark and stormy at Lopes Mendes

The sky was becoming progressively darker and stormier and as we started to make our way back towards Pouso beach to catch the taxi boat it started to rain… the first few spots quickly turned into torrential rain…


By the time we had walked hurriedly back through the rainforest to Pouso Beach we were soaked to the skin! (And feeling thankful that we had brought the boat tickets…)

As our taxi boat was booked for 5 pm we had half an hour to kill… So we had to shelter in the Marola floating bar (obviously…) It was actually a weird and surreal sensation sitting soaking wet in the busy floating bar… with the rain all around us… and music such as ‘The Girl from Ipanema‘ being played in the background…

The rain had eased a bit as we made our way along the beach to the boat… but only for a short time before it started hammering down again…

The rain stung our faces as we and the other six passengers were whisked by speedboat back around the island to Abraão. By the time we arrived a full blown thunderstorm was taking place!

We finally arrived back to our pousada thoroughly soaked but highly invigorated! What an amazing day of trekking through paradise…

Points to note:

  • The weather (December 2016) was hot and humid so you must take plenty of water.
  • The terrain is fairly tough with rocks, boulders and tree roots sticking out of the ground so it’s best to wear trainers or hiking boots. Some people were wearing flip flops but they didn’t look too comfortable.
  • Take insect repellent and sun block.




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