Angra dos Reis

For travelers who want to get away from the urban life of Rio de Janeiro, Angra dos Reis is the perfect getaway. This area in the state of Rio de Janeiro features 365 islands, more than 2,000 beaches, and a paradise of waterfalls, tropical plants and forests, excellent hiking trails, as well as a plethora of great beach hotels and resorts. The largest island in the area is Ilha Grande; the island is well-known among outdoor adventurers for its excellent nature treks and phenomenal diving.

Your main hub for traveling out to the islands, including Ilha Grande, will be the town of Angra dos Reis. There isn't a whole lot to do in the town itself, and the town center is small with just a few shops and restaurants, but that doesn't matter much, as the main attraction in this area are the gorgeous beaches. There are a multitude of beach houses, resorts and hotels gathered around Angra dos Reis if you'd like to stay close to the city.

Most travelers, however, will head immediately out to the islands, of which Ilha Grande is one of the prime attractions. This large island off the cost of Brazil is known for its natural beauty, and is one of the few places where Brazil's endangered Atlantic rainforest still exists. Trek through the hills and forests and look for rare animals such as howler monkeys, sloths, caimans and parrots. Cars are prohibited on the island to protect the fragile ecosystem, keeping the natural habitat pristine. Diving and snorkeling are huge attractions at Ilha Grande—you can dive among the remains of an old shipwreck, as well as swim with hundreds of multicolored tropical fish. If you're lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of some penguins and Southern right whales! There are hundreds of beaches along the coast of Ilha Grande, including black beaches formed of volcanic rock, as well as golden and white sand beaches, with everything from excellent surf, to calm protected lagoons. Many of the beach hotels and resorts on Ilha Grande are quite secluded, and you may have to hire a boat to take you there, which only adds to the feeling that you're getting far and away.

The second-largest island is Gipoia, which is particularly known for its gorgeous white beaches and crystal-clear waters for snorkeling. Many tourists head to Jurubaiba Beach, arguably the most beautiful beach on the island. It has soft white sand, and protected, calm waters where you can swim and relax. It is one of the more developed beaches in the area, with a few cafes catering to tourists, though amenities are still quite basic. This is a great place to take a leisurely boat ride, while tipping back a few cold drinks. A more heavily-visited beach is Flechas Beach, which has an excellent seafood restaurant and a few hotels.

Once you’ve had a chance to see the two largest islands, there are 363 more to visit in Angra dos Reis. You could visit one every day for a year, if you were so inclined. The islands range from popular celebrity spots, to secluded islets with just a few trees and a beach. Wherever you go, you're guaranteed to enjoy the gorgeous scenic views of the sand, sun and ocean.

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