The Most Amazing Islands in Brazil

Sarah Brown

There’s something exciting about a boat trip to an island and if there is one thing Brazil isn’t short of, it’s islands. Whether it’s Caribbean-style islands with white sands and turquoise waters, vast wetlands surrounded by water from the Amazon, or even a snake-infested island, Brazil has it all. Here are some of the best islands in Brazil.

1. Ilha Grande

Natural Feature

Ilha Grande island Brazil
© dabldy / WikiCommons
The definition of a tropical paradise, Ilha Grande is an island off the coast of Rio de Janeiro that proudly boasts some of the best beaches in the whole of Brazil. Soft white sand and startlingly blue seas are standard characteristics of the island’s coastline, and the fact that it is a completely motor-free zone adds to the simple, natural charm. Other appealing attractions include an abandoned prison, forest hikes, refreshing waterfalls, and panoramic viewpoints with sweeping island views.

2. Ilha de Marajó

Natural Feature

ilha de Marajó in Brazil
© Maria josé pereira porto / WikiCommons

Sitting in the mouth of the Amazon rainforest and covering an area slightly larger than the size of Switzerland, the Ilha de Marajó is considered the largest river island in the world. The island itself is largely made up of vast wetlands that are home to thousands of birds, including the striking, Scarlet Ibis. There are some human inhabitants who are mostly confined to three small towns, such as Salvaterra which has the best beach on the island. However, the most intriguing resident on the island is the large population of water buffalo who also provide transport for the local police force.

3. Ilha do Cardoso

Natural Feature

In the lesser-explored south coast of São Paulo, close to the border with the state of Paraná, lies Ilha do Cardoso, a near-deserted and pristine island of luscious flora and fauna and great untouched beaches. The island is covered with trees from the Atlantic Forest which hides pleasant waterfalls and natural pools. These wet areas form mangroves and marshes which shelter resident marine life. The island has escaped largescale development and visitors can stay at one of the small local villages.

4. Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

Natural Feature

Tide rolls in on the sandy Baia do Sancho on Fernando de Noronha
© Diane Stoney / Alamy Stock Photo
Fernando de Noronha is an archipelago of 21 islands and protected national marine park that lies about 350 kilometers (217 miles) off Brazil’s northeast coast. When it comes to paradise, Noronha is in a league of its own with powdery white beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and a limited number of annual tourists. The island is home to several endemic species of wildlife and the surrounding sea is full of sharks, dolphins, rays, and tropical fish, making it an ideal spot for diving.

5. llha do Mel

Natural Feature

Ilha do Mel island in Brazil
© PattiMorais / WikiCommons

This picturesque island lies in the south of Brazil and is considered the most scenic of the region with its untouched beaches, dramatic coastline, and perfect waves for surfing. The Ilha do Mel – which translates to the romantic name of the Island of Honey – is only accessible by boat and has largely escaped human interference, meaning there are no roads on the island and no sprawling resorts; just peace, sandy paths to stroll along, and plenty of surrounding nature.

6. Ilha da Queimada Grande

Natural Feature

Snake Island in Brazil
© Prefeitura Municipal Itanhaém / Flickr

Located off the coast of São Paulo, Ilha da Queimada Grande is a small island that remains totally untouched by human development – for a good reason. The island, made up of bare rock and rainforests, is home to an endemic species of snake, the highly venomous golden lancehead pit viper. It is believed they once inhabited the mainland of Brazil but rising sea levels eventually trapped them on the Ilha da Queimada Grande island where they survive by feeding on seabirds that rest there. The island is closed to the public due to the risk of being bitten by the vipers and is only accessible by the Brazilian navy and a select group of researchers.

7. Ilhabela

Natural Feature

Ilhabela island in Brazil
© Marcescos / WikiCommons
Literally named “The Beautiful Island,” Ilhabela is a gorgeous archipelago of beaches, Atlantic forest, and waterfalls located just off the Litoral Norte coast. Accessed via a ferry from the city of São Sebastião, the mainland-facing side of the island has plenty of great beaches as well as picturesque Airbnbs and pousadas. The other side of the island can only be explored by 4×4 or boat, but it’s certainly worth it to visit the unforgettable beaches of Bonete and Baía de Castelhanos.

8. Ilha do Campeche

Natural Feature

Ilha do Campeche island in Brazil
© Rodrigo Soldon / Flickr

With flour white beaches and crystal-clear water with a turquoise hue, Ilha do Campeche island is sometimes referred to as the Caribbean of the south of Brazil. Located just over one kilometer off the coast of the picturesque coastal city, Florianopolis, it’s just a short boat ride away from the mainland. There are forests and hikes to discover on the island yet these should be done with a guide as to venture alone is prohibited; this is an important archaeological site thanks to ancient paintings discovered on the island.

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