The reason that Ilhabela’s nature is so unspoiled (and its eastern coast so inaccessible) is that the majority of the island is preserved within the limits of a 335-square-meter (3,600-square-foot) natural park known as Parque Estadual de Ilhabela. Whether you decide to explore the island’s treasures by sea or land (there are plenty of hiking trails and several dirt roads), in most cases you’ll need to do so with an organized excursion.
Archipelagus (Av. Pedro Paulo de Morães 713, Pequéa, tel. 12/3896-3086) offers boat, Jeep, and trekking tours around the island for around R$60–70. Among the most popular trips are a bumpy Jeep ride across the park to beautiful Praia de Castelhanos, and trekking to Cachoeira da Laje, a spectacular waterfall near Praia do Bonete.
Aside from organizing excursions, Lokal Adventure (Av. Princesa Isabel 171, Perequê, tel. 12/3896-5777) also rents cars, motor scooters, bikes, horses, and canoes for adventurous souls who want to do some exploring on their own. An easy solo outing is the 3-km (2-mile) hike inland from Praia de Feiticeira to Cachoeira da Toca (8 a.m.–6 p.m. daily, R$7.50), a waterfall with various cascades and pools.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition