Paraty Bay Islands
Paraty Bay islands For crystal clear waters, wonderfully isolated beaches and gorgeous views, take a boat trip out to the islands that surround Paraty. The town sits on the edge of a bay filled with over 300 islands of varying sizes – from tiny private islands to the vast tropical idyll that is Ilha Grande. Group boat trips run out to some of the larger islands nearby, with stops for swimming, snorkelling and eating, while smaller private speedboats can whisk you off to less-visited shores. Some larger islands have simple restaurants and kiosks selling food and drinks, and most boats supply chilled bottled water, but it’s a good idea to bring some supplies of your own. The clear waters make the bay an excellent destination for diving and snorkelling. There are several dive schools in Paraty, offering lessons for the uninitiated, and equipment hire for experienced divers.
Ilha do Pelado
This small, picturesque island with clear waters and sandy beaches and stunning views over the surrounding forested mountains is a popular day trip from Paraty. Buses run from Paraty to the nearby town of Sao Goncalo (a taxi is more convenient and cost-effective if you are in a group), where fishing boats wait to transport people to the island, a short five minute hop across the waters (around R$15). There are a handful of kiosks on the island selling traditional snacks such as pasteis (pastries stuffed with fillings such as cheese, meat and shrimp) and fries, as well as ice cold beers and caipirinhas.
Ilha do Mantimento
One of the closest islands to Paraty it has a good protected spot for snorkelling with lots of fish. Take bananas for the rare Golden Lion Tamarind monkeys, and breadcrumbs for the fish.
With a small but pristine beach, a natural pool whose crystal clear waters teem with colourful fish, this is a popular spot for snorkelling and diving – indeed, many students at the local dive schools take their tests here. There are no facilities here, so bring supplies if you plan to stay a while. Many group and private boats stop here.
Ilha do Cedro
Fishing boats run from Sao Goncalo to this quiet island, where shady nature trails and pristine beaches are among the attractions. Calm, warm waters make this a good spot for families, and there are several kiosks selling simple snacks, meals and drinks.
The largest of the 300-plus islands surrounding Paraty, Ilha Grande (literally Big Island) can be reached by a boat journey of around 90 minutes from Paraty (fast boats and in good weather only, expensive). A vast nature reserve that was once a leper colony and then until 1994 a top security prison it’s famously home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Rio de Janeiro state. Ilha Grande is a popular destination with international travellers, and there are many hostels and guest houses in the main settlement at Vila do Abraao. The island is most usually reached by ferry or fishing boat from the town of Angra dos Reis (or further on, Mangarita), a two-hour bus ride from Paraty on comfortable air conditioned coaches.
Ilha dos Ganchos
One of the closest islands to Paraty Bay, tiny Ilha dos Ganchos is a favorite spot for dive lessons and snorkelling. The water, which has a maximum depth of 11 meters, is warm and clear, and sea creatures such as star fish, sea cucumbers, colorful sea urchins and even octopus can easily be spotted. The rocky island isn’t suited to sunbathers, but many boats stop here for swimming and snorkelling.
Ilha dos Meros
Along with Ilha dos Cocos this small island is widely considered to offer the best diving experience in Paraty. Waters can reach a depth of 21 meters, and the island’s craggy crocks and caves harbour all manner of weird and wonderful sea creatures, including seahorses and parrot fishes. Dive schools run regular trips out here. There’s no infrastructure, so bring your own drinks and snacks.