South America

Brazil: Kayaking around Brazil’s secret Islands

Brazil is famous for it’s long tropical coastline, but less well know is the tranquil beauty of it’s many uninhabited islands along the South East coast of Brazil from Sao Sebastião to Angra dos Reis. These island are only reachable by kayak or private  boat and are not very well known even  to many of the locals, but they are really worth the extra effort that it takes to visit and explore them, because on these islands you will find some of the most beautiful beaches in Brazil. In this article we will look at some of the islands around the North Coast of São Paulo state -Literal Norte in Portuguese.

The first thing to consider is the the weather and when to go. This tropical region of Brazil essentially has two climates. In the summer, from November to April, the weather is very hot and humid with average temperatures of 35 degrees celsius , but it also rains a lot, especially in the afternoon. In fact Ubatuba has the nickname, “Ubachuva” (Chuva means rain in Portuguese).  The rain generally peaks in January when it can rain for days, during this summer period, although the ocean is warm and clear and the days are quite long with the sun Rising at about 6am and setting at 7pm over December. The winter, which is roughly from June through to September is dry and sunny with  pleasant temperatures, usually around the mid 20’s, with cooler evenings and shorter days. The sun can set as early as 4pm in July. Generally the winter is better for paddling because of the cooler temperatures and low chance of rain, but the ocean is warmer and more beautiful in the summer, with brighter shades of blue and clearer water. In between summer and winter there’s a short, subtle spring and autumn which usually have quite warm pleasant weather with more chance of rain than winter, but usually sunnier than summer.


Arriving at As Ilhas

A good place to start is “As Ilhas” near the town of Maresias on the Northern São Paulo Coast. “As Ilhas”  means “The Islands”. At first I was puzzled as to why one island would be called the islands, however after exploring the island I realised that it is because the island could get divided into two islands at a very high tide, due to the fact that there is a small lagoon of water flowing through the center. It’s a little bit difficult to explain, but there is a wall of rocks at the back of the island where waves break. Water from these waves flows over the rocks and forms a sort of salt water river, or lagoon, which flows through the center of the island. On the right hand side of the island you can find some interesting rocks and beautiful soft, powdery white sand. I explored as Ilhas in mid May and the weather was perfect and quite hot in the sun.


Powdery white sand at As Ilhas

To get to As Ilhas drive to a beach called Barra do Sahy. The island is bout two kilometers off the coast, directly in front of the beach. There is also a small boat launching port to the left hand side behind the rocks, where you can find boats that will take you to the island depending on the day and season. You can also hire kayaks at the beach but it’s quite expensive, something like R$20 per hour, possibly per person.

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Me on the beach at As Ilhas

This island gets quite a few visitors on a nice day and there is also a small bar serving very basic and expensive cocktails , I think they were charging R$20 for one drink. There are also one or building in the middle of the island, possibly some kind of park officials live or work there. As Ilhas is a beautiful island and worth a visit, however I found it just slightly to busy if you are looking for something more private.


Behind As Ilhas – Ilha das Couves in the distance

Ilha Tamanduá is an island between Ubatuba and Caraguatatuba. I arrived here by Kayak from the beach Praia cocanha and the island is about 3km from the shore. There are two smaller island that you will pass if you kayak from praia cocanha.

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Ilha Tamanduá

The beach at Tamanduá is beautiful with soft white sand flanked by lush tropical forest and very clean with not much plastic. The island is totally uninhabited and the atmosphere is calm and tranquil. I was there on the 27th of December and the water was very hot,over 30C , but the water was incredibly warm and quite clear. I really loved visiting this island and found it quite a magical place.

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The Life Aquatic Diving Kayak at Tamanduá

As you head North towards Ubatuba there are a lot more islands, which unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to explore yet. I am planning to explore there in the near future and I’m very excited to check out Ilha do Promirim in the future.Part 2 of this series will focus on Paraty and Angra dos Reais.


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