Ilha Grande ("Great Island"), which lies within the territory of Angra dos Reis, has been since 1978 a state nature reserve. It can be reached from the town in a 1.5 hour boat trip. Its enchanting fishing villages, lagoons, waterfalls and beaches attract large numbers of visitors. It also serves as a kind of gigantic breakwater, sheltering the waters of the bay from strong winds and marine currents. This has also helped to make Angra dos Reis a paradise for scuba divers and snorkelers.There is still a high-security prison on the island. "Wild" camping is prohibited. Before doing any walking on the island it is advisable to obtain information and advice from the local police.
BeachesAt Vila Abraão are the beaches of Abraão and Preta, with monazite sand. To the east is Praia Lopes Mendes - one of the most beautiful bathing coves in Brazil, ideal for surfing, which begins beyond the Lopes Mendes Rock - followed by Saco de Dois Rios, Parnaioca (with a waterfall), L'Este (monazite sand, lagoons), Demo, Aventureiro, etc.; to the north are the beaches of Morcego and Grande das Palmas (with a small fishing village); to the west are Feiticeira, Saco do Céu, Bananal and Freguesia de Santana; and to the south Tapeira, Vermelha, Provetá (with a fishing village) and Meros. The beaches can be reached on footpaths or by boat.
Diving groundsThe rich marine fauna off the shores of Ilha Grande and the remains of vessels which have sunk in these waters are powerful attractions for scuba divers and snorkelers. South-west of the island, in 21m/70ft of water, is the wreck of the "Pinguino"; farther south, at a depth of 15m/50ft, is the "California". At the southern tip of the island, 7m/23ft below the surface, is the submarine cave of Acaíá, famed for its many colorful species of fish. Towards the open sea are the Ilha dos Meros (good underwater hunting), Dragon Rock, the Ilha do Jorge Grego and, at the eastern tip of Ilha Grande, the Lopes Mendes Rock.