7 Incredible Islands Near Brazil You Simply Must See

islands near brazil

So, you’re on the hunt for the most alluring islands near Brazil? This guide has you covered. It scours the long, long coastline of this colossal South American nation, all to deliver seven hot tips on where to go when it’s time for hammock-swinging and sunbathing, snorkeling and surfing.

There’s actually quite a selection to get through. But, there again, we are talking about a country with a total shoreline count that’s only a smidgen shy of 5,000 miles! Along its course are countless barrier isles and offshore archipelagos, each with their own unique charms and draws.

Given the diversity of it, you can expect the islands near Brazil to range from sun-splashed paradises with white sands and lush green jungles to untouched eco destinations that have campgrounds and animal-filled forests. Summer tends to be the main season for visiting all of them, but most remain open all year round.

Fernando de Noronha

Fernando de Noronha
Photo by Ze Paulo Gasparotto/Unsplash

There was a time when it was a forgone conclusion that the isle of Fernando de Noronha would be up there close to the top of lists of the most amazing beach destinations on the globe. So wonderful are its beaches; so jaw-dropping its array of steep cliffs and wild rock reefs.

Languishing some 235 miles off the coast of the State of Rio Grande do Norte, it’s hardly the most accessible of the islands near Brazil. But it’s one that really deserves its position on the bucket lists. The duo of beaches at Do Meio and Conceição are enough on their own to ensure that – both are scythes of golden sands under pinnacles of rock that soar from a lush rainforest.

The whole place also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a designated marine reserve. Today, it’s a major hotspot for scuba divers and snorkelers, who flock over from the mainland to witness sea turtles, sharks, and spinner dolphins in H2O that has a visibility that can peak at 50 meters or more!

Ilha Grande

Ilha Grande
Photo by Vinicius Cainelli/Unsplash

The Ilha Grande recently turned heads when it featured as a pitstop in the hit UK TV series Race Across the World. “Where’s that stunning mass of ivory-tinged beaches and green-blue seas?” People asked. Brazil was the resounding answer, and only a stone’s throw from the bustling megacity of Rio to boot.

Yep, the Ilha Grande tucks into the big bay of Angra dos Reis, where it covers 193 square kilometers of pure and sublime tropical country. It’s now largely covered by designated nature reserves and is also inscribed on the UNESCO reserve list. Cars are 100% banned, so the best way to get around is via the 150 miles of marked hiking path.

Beach wise, you’re looking at a south coast that has inlets worthy of the Seychelles – beaches at Aventureiro and Praia de Parnaioca are particularly stunning. Up north, there are more secret coves with palm forests behind – at Witch Beach and Praia de Abrãaozinho, for example.

Ilha do Cardoso

island in Brazil
Photo by Luis Fernando Oliveira/Unsplash

The remote Ilha do Cardoso makes its home on the very edge of the State of São Paulo, on the cusp of the border with tropical Paraná to the south. It’s not linked to the main coastal highway or the more developed beaches that run along to the Ponta da Praia de Ilha Comprida Sul. That means getting in can be tricky. Those who come can look forward to…

A southeastern shore that’s fringed by wild lengths of wave-blasted sand, all backed by hills clad in thick forests. There are also waterfalls within, including swimming spots like the Trilha Piscinas da Lage, which gurgle into life at the end of a forest creek.

The name of the game here is off the beaten path travel. There are just a few places to stay, most of them eco lodges or eco campgrounds. Don’t come expecting the Ritz on the coast. Come for the chirping of the birds and the buzz of the mozzies.


beach Brazil
Photo by Marcos Assis/Unsplash

Once a sugarcane farming outpost, then a coffee-growing center, and even a gold-exporting dock that was attacked by pirates, Ilhabela is now one of the absolute top island getaways for Paulistanos (people from nearby Sao Paulo). During the hottest summer months, hundreds of thousands of them will move south to the port at São Sebastião and wait up to half a day to catch the short, 15-minute ferry across.

What awaits is a whole archipelago of truly idyllic bays, from the two-sided beach of Castelhanos on the east coast to the bustling Curral Beach on the west coast. The remote north shore is also worth knowing about but can only really be accessed if you have your own boat. The best bays there are Jabaquara Beach and Praia da Fome.

The amazing Ilhabela is known as something of a biodiversity hotspot. The waters that surround the isle are particularly rich in whales and dolphins. Inland, the mountains are shrouded in rainforests – some of the most pristine Atlantic rainforests in Brazil, no less – inhabited by uber-rare Blue manakin birds and, some say, jaguars.

Ilha do Campeche

Ilha do Campeche
Photo by Cassiano Psomas/Unsplash

Paradise awaits at the Ilha do Campeche. Facing the long and wave-washed Praia do Campeche just east of the surf city of Florianopolis, it’s a little nugget of true beauty surrounded by the open Atlantic Ocean.

The Ilha do Campeche is smaller than most of the other islands near Brazil mentioned on this list. It measures a mere mile up and 400 meters across. That’s still enough to pack in one seriously handsome beachfront, though. It’s a slightly doglegging run of perfect white sand that’s blessed by super greenish waters and a swimming lagoon.

There are also a few remote walking paths through the coastal jungles here, plus a smattering of casual (and rather overpriced) tavernas on the shoreline. There’s only one way across: A direct ferry from the port at Armação just a little to the south. They run for most of the main summer vacation season.

Ilha de Tinharé

Ilha de Tinharé
Photo by brunamazzer/Pixabay

The Ilha de Tinharé and its adjoining little bro, the island of Boipeba, is a fragment of the huge state of Bahia in eastern Brazil. Both are separated from the mainland by the murky flats of the estuary of the Rio dos Patos and are best accessed from the vibrant metropolis of Salvador.

A true picture of a Brazilian wilderness, these places are all about escaping the rat race and getting into the backcountry. They hardly have a single roadway between them. There are no motorized vehicles to be seen. The largest settlements are but pint-sized hamlets and fishing villages.

For travelers looking to get off the beaten track, the main draws are the seemingly endless stretch of sand at Ondinhas de Garapuá beach, along with the natural swimming and snorkeling lagoons just off the shore at Porto do Costa.

Ilha do Marajò

Photo by Aaron Mello/Unsplash

Calling all wildlife lovers, the Ilha do Marajò is the place to go to get a taste of the fabled biodiversity of the Amazonia region. It lies at the mouth of that mighty riverway, right where the banks widen to meet the vast Atlantic Ocean. It’s a big one, too – like the same size as Switzerland sort of big!

Yep, you don’t come here to laze on pristine sands and enjoy lux resorts. You come here for safaris into reserves like the vast Extrativista Terra Grande of Pracuúba, a patchwork of wetlands and wiggling rivers that hosts all manner of tropical birds and butterflies and fish.

Elsewhere, the Ilha do Marajò is known for its palmetto swamps and savannah. They’ve been transformed and harnessed by farmers over the years and now host one of the largest herds of domesticated water buffalo in the country.

The best islands near Brazil – our conclusion

With a whopping 5,000 miles of coastline to get through in all, it’s hardly a surprise that there are quite a few islands near Brazil to consider. We’ve picked out just seven here that we think stand out from the crowd. They range from major beach hotspots like the Ilha Grande and the Ilhabela, which is one of the most famous getaways for people who live in the big city of Sao Paulo when the weather gets scorching in the summer months, right down to the undeveloped jungle isles of Ilha do Marajò and Ilha de Tinharé, which are better for those looking to catch a glimpse of Brazil’s rare wildlife.

Reece Toth

Reece is the creator and editor of Travel Snippet. He has visited more than 38 countries over a 10-year period. His travels have taken him through the majestic mountains of Italy, into the cities of central Europe, across the islands of Indonesia, and to the beaches of Thailand, where he is currently living. He is passionate about travel and shares his expertise by providing the best travel tips and tricks to help you plan your next adventure.

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