Getting to Ilha Grande the best, cheapest, and fastest way!

Near Rio de Janeiro lies an exotic island, with beautiful beaches and a laid-back Brazilian vibe! Do you want to know how to get there? Then keep reading for the complete guide on how to get to Ilha Grande by bus, transfer, driving & find out which are the best airports to access the island from.

We will also tell you which are the best, cheapest and fastest ways to Ilha Grande from Río de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

….but first…..

​You are going to need a boat!

Unless you are Leonardo DiCaprio

How to get to Ilha Grande

As with most islands, to get to Ilha Grande a boat will be required. Your private jet will be no good because there is no airport on the island, but if you do have a helicopter, write to us, we will tell you where to park it!

But seriously, if you need to know which airports give the best access to the island, then skip ahead to see the airports closest to Ilha Grande and how to get to Ilha Grande from the airport.​  

Where is Ilha Grande located? 

The island of Ilha Grande is situated off the coast of Río de Janeiro state, located within the Angra dos Reis region. The distance is 150 kilometers (94 miles) from Rio de Janeiro if you drive along the coastal highway towards Sao Paulo. From the city of Sao Paulo, the island lies 450 kilometers (154 miles) if driving north-west towards Río de Janeiro.

Onde ficar Ilha Grande

Okay, a full disclaimer – this article was written by​ a boat and transfer company. Yes, Travessia Ilha Grande has trips to Ilha Grande daily, and therefore you may get the impression that we are a bit biased as to which boat company is best. Hint: we are!!!!!

We will explain our service later, but before getting a boat, you need to know where the ports are located.

Where do you get boats to Ilha Grande?

The best port to get a boat to Ilha Grande depends on whether you are traveling from Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo. Even if you start your journey from another city, it is likely you will need to first pass through one of these large hubs to get to the island.

If you are coming from Río de Janeiro, then the best port to get a boat to Ilha Grande is from Conceição de Jacareí, but there are exceptions where it would be better to go to Angra dos Reis which we explain later. From Sao Paulo, you would first travel to Angra do Reis to take a boat to Ilha Grande.



Coming from Río de Janeiro

How to get to Ilha Grande from Rio de Janeiro

If you are going to Vila Abraão on Ilha Grande, to get there from Río, you should go to the town of Conceição de Jacareí. This is the best port to access Ilha Grande because of its proximity to Río and also to the island.

Not only is Conceição de Jacareí the closest point to Ilha Grande, with the quickest crossing time, but there are also more boats departing from there throughout the day.

Como ir para Ilha Grande do Rio de Janeiro

Maybe you have also heard about getting to Ilha Grande via Mangaratiba, and while it is a little closer to Rio de Janeiro than the other ports, it is not very convenient. This is mainly because there is only one departure per day and the boat used is one of the slowest commercial options to the island.

The boat crossing from Mangaratiba to Ilha Grande takes 1.5 hours, and when you realize that Conceição de Jacareí is only a 25-minute drive further from Río, and from there the boat crossing takes only 15 – 20 minutes, you may understand why we do not rate it as a departure point.

If you would still like to go via Managaratiba, the ferry departs from the central pier which is located in front of the Church of Nossa Senhora. The ferry departs for Ilha Grande at 08:00 am and it is operated by CCR Barcas. Before the pandemia, there was also a late-night boat every Friday, but this has been suspended until further notice.

Warning: If s​taying in Araçatiba ​or​ Praia Vermelha do not go to ​Conceição de Jacareí​.

Boats from Conceição de Jacareí only go to Vila Abraão, and there are no roads on Ilha Grande to get to other large settlements on the island. The west side of the island is better accessed by boat from Angra do Reis.

If your final destination is on the west side of Ilha Grande, but you take a boat to Abraão from Conceição de Jacareí, you will have to pay for an expensive water taxi to transfer you to other parts of the island such as Araçatiba and Praia Vermelha. See boats from Angra dos Reis to Araçatiba and Praia Vermelha here.

If you are like most visitors and your destination is Vila Abraão,  you will need to get to Conceição de Jacareí from Rio de Janeiro and then take a ferry to Ilha Grande.

How to get from Rio to Ilha Grande the fastest, best, and cheapest way!

From the city and airports of Río de Janeiro, the travel time to Conceição de Jacareí is roughly 2 hours. To get there, you will first need to take one of the following transport options along the BR 101 highway.

The cheapest way to get to Ilha Grande from Río de Janeiro is by local transport. In particular, by taking a bus to the port of Conceição de Jacareí where you then head towards the beach to get a boat.  

Ilha Grande buses

To take a bus to Ilha Grande from Rio de Janeiro you first need to make your way to the Novo Río bus terminal located near downtown.  The bus company Costa Verde Transportes operates the best and quickest service from Rio de Janeiro to Conceição de Jacareí and their buses are modern, clean, and they usually blast the air conditioning (take a jacket because sometimes they blast it too much). You will find their ticket desk on the bottom floor of the terminal, and the bus departs just behind the ticket desk.

The bus will drive 2.5/3 hours along the BR101 to Conceição de Jacareí. Be aware that Conceição de Jacareí does not have a bus terminal of its own. Instead, the bus will stop on the side of the highway to let you off. When you arrive at Conceição de Jacareí, there are no obvious signs to indicate you are there. As such, make sure you remind the driver to stop at Conceição de Jacareí when you first board the bus, and again when the bus stops halfway for a bathroom break. Or you could simply follow the pin on Google Maps if your phone is connected to the internet.

Once you arrive at the gas station, jump off, collect your luggage from under the bus, and cross the 4 lane highway in the direction of the beach. There is a zebra crossing you walk across to get to the other side, but being a wide highway take extra care of speeding vehicles.  You will need to walk 300 meters through a neighbourhood to find the tourist pier where the Ilha Grande boats depart. Skip ahead to read about the boats to Ilha Grande!

Going to the Novo Río bus terminal, taking the bus, and then walking with your luggage to the boat may be the cheapest way to get to Ilha Grande from Río de Janeiro, but it is not as easy compared to the following options.

Makes sense right? If you have a car at your disposal, then the easiest way from Río to Ilha Grande is to simply drive the 150 km (2 hours) to the boat pier of Conceição de Jacareí.

For those driving from the city or airports of Rio de Janeiro, the route is:

  • Take BR 101 heading south;
  • Go to Mangaratiba and continue straight until Conceição de Jacareí;
  • The beach will be on your left, so you need to cross the highway to find the tourist pier.

Conceição de Jacareí Parking

If your option is to arrive at Ilha Grande by driving to Conceição de Jacareí first, you don’t have to worry about the safety of your vehicle! In the areas surrounding the tourist pier, there is a wide offer of long-term paid parking options.

Driving yourself may be the easiest way to get to Ilha Grande from Río, but having to pay for parking and leaving your car on the mainland while you take the boat to the island may not be the best option for everyone. This is why you may wish to consider getting there in one of the transfers from Río and having someone else drive you instead.

Our vote for the best way to get to Ilha Grande is on one of the daily shuttles which pick-up from Río de Janeiro city and airports. Although not as cheap as the bus, the shuttles allow you to avoid the hassle of going to the Río de Janeiro bus terminal and also having to find the pier in Conceição de Jacareí yourself when you arrive.  Instead of driving yourself, take a shuttle instead to avoid having to find and pay for parking.

Shared shuttles to Conceição de Jacareí

When it comes to comfort and practicality, shuttles are the best way to get from Rio to Ilha Grande. Another bonus is that the boat trip from Conceição de Jacareí to Vila do ​​​​Abraão is included in the price of the shuttle, meaning there is one less thing to have to worry about. 

Several times each day the van will pick up from both airports in Río de Janeiro (GIG/SDU) and also from the following city neighborhoods.

Santa Teresa;
And many more.

On arrival at Conceição de Jacareí, you will be escorted to the pier and provided with your ticket for one of the fast boats to the island. Although convenient, keep in mind that your travel time to Ilha Grande will be affected by how many other people need to be picked up before departing the city. 

If you would rather not have to pick up others, then the quickest way to Ilha Grande would be by contracting a private transfer service.

If you don’t have access to a helicopter (we can’t all be like Leonardo DiCaprio), a private transfer would be the quickest way to get to Ilha Grande. You can contract an exclusive chauffeur to pick you up from your accommodation or the airports in Río de Janeiro. A private service may not be as expensive as you think, especially considering that it is the fastest way to Ilha Grande from Río de Janeiro.

Unlike the shared shuttles where time is spent picking up others before exiting the city, this option also allows you to set your own pick-up time, and once in the vehicle, you will depart the city immediately.

Upon arrival at Conceição de Jacareí, your driver will provide you with your boat tickets and will escort you to the pier. If you are considering this option, you will need to depart Río anytime before 15:30 to arrive before the last public boat departs Conceição de Jacareí. If you are unable to leave by then, you will need to get a private water taxi across to the island.

Transfer with a private water taxi included

If arriving in Rio on a flight, and your arrival time is later than 15:00, or even if you just want the absolute fastest way to Ilha Grande, you may consider also hiring a private boat to meet your transfer at the pier. Your driver from Río will connect you with an awaiting boat, and you will be whisked across to the island like a boss! You can find more information about the shuttle van, and private transfers, by clicking below. 

 Boats from Conceição de Jacareí to Ilha Grande

Now that you know how to get to Conceição de Jacareí, continue reading for information about the boats which ferry you to Ilha Grande.

Ferry from Conceição de Jacareí to Ilha Grande

The ferries from Conceição de Jacareí to Ilha Grande are more similar to speedboats than the usual perception of large sea vessels. Large and slow ferries do exist from other ports, but the reason you go to Conceição de Jacareí is for a quick and convenient crossing. Plus there are more departure times to Vila Abraão during the day.

Crossing by Flex Boat

The ferries that make the crossing from Conceição de Jacareí are known locally as Flex Boats. Despite being quite narrow, these vessels can transport between 30 and 50 passengers from Conceição de Jacareí to Ilha Grande at high speeds. The Flex Boats have large inflated tubes along their sides to keep the boat stable and safe as they accelerate across to Vila Abraão.  

It is also possible to get a Flex Boat from Angra dos Reis to Vila Abraão, which is more convenient for people coming from Sao Paulo.

Conceição de Jacareí Ilha Grande
Coming from São Paulo

How to get to Ilha Grande from São Paulo

The most common way to get from Sao Paulo to Ilha Grande is via Angra dos Reis, which is the closest port to Ilha Grande from Sao Paulo. Like Ilha Grande, the city of Angra dos Reis is located in the state of Rio de Janeiro, and to get there you have the following options:

  • Take a bus 
  • Drive there 
  • Fly to Río de Janeiro, then transfer

Let’s explain which option is the cheapest, and also which we think is the fastest and best way to get to Ilha Grande from São Paulo.

How to get from Sao Paulo to Ilha Grande the cheapest, best, and fastest way!

como ir para Ilha Grande de Sao Paulo

For the budget-minded, the cheapest way to get from Sao Paulo to Ilha Grande is by bus. You will need to time your arrival in Angra dos Reis with the departure of a boat.

How to get a bus from Sao Paulo to Ilha Grande

There are daily buses to the city of Angra dos Reis, which are operated by Viação Reunidas Paulista, and they depart from the Tiete terminal.  

ônibus Sao Paulo Ilha Grande

To get to the Tiete terminal you can use the city’s Metro rail system and the stop is called Portuguesa-Tietê and is located on the Blue – Line 1 (Portuguese: Linha 1–Azul). The Tiete terminal is the second-largest bus terminal in the world, so get there early to make sure you have time to find the bus. The Reunidas Paulista ticket office is located on the second level, and their buses depart from the ground level.

There are usually 6 buses from Sao Paulo to Angra dos Reis daily which take at least 7.5 hours if you get decent traffic out of the city.  Be aware that the last boats from Angra dos Reis to Ilha Grande usually depart around 17:30/18:00, therefore make sure you get an early bus to make it in time or consider taking the overnight bus which departs Sao Paulo around 22:00 and arrives at Angra dos Reis around 07:00 am.

Side Trip Tip: this bus passes through the town of Paraty on the way to Angra dos Reis, which is also a great tourist destination along Brazil’s Costa Verde. If you have time, you could consider stopping off in Paraty before taking one of the transfers from Paraty to Ilha Grande. 

Getting from the Angra dos Reis bus terminal to the boat

From the Angra dos Reis bus terminal, you will need to make your way to where the boats depart for Ilha Grande. The fast boats to the island depart from the Santa Luzia boat pier which is 2 kilometers from the terminal. On exiting the terminal, if you turn left and follow the road around the bay, you can walk to the pier in 20 minutes. But for most people with luggage, you will probably want to take a taxi or Uber from the terminal. 

ponto de ônibus cais de Santa LuziaSanta Luzia pier – take a taxi or Uber here from the Angra dos Reis bus station

If you are looking for the cheapest boat to Ilha Grande, there is a slow boat which is cheaper than the fast boats. The slower boat is operated by CCR Barcas and it departs from a pier which is located a little further along the seafront than the Santa Luzia pier. 

If you do not want to take the long bus ride to Angra dos Reis, and then time your arrival with a boat departure, then consider driving yourself. We will also explain later how you can fly a part of the way and then take a transfer to the island.

To get to Ilha Grande by car, it is necessary to drive to Angra dos Reis first, then take a boat across to the island. Cars are not allowed on Ilha Grande, therefore while you are enjoying the island, your car needs to be secure in an Angra dos Reis parking lot. You will find several parking options close to the waterfront which offer long-term parking, and some of them even offer undercover parking. 

The most advantageous route from Sao Paulo is the following:

  • Depart the city to the north on the BR 116 highway, as if driving to the city of Rio;
  • Not long after Volta Redonda, turn onto the VRD-001; then turn left on the RJ-139 and follow to the BR 494 highway. 
  • Once you hit the BR 101 highway, head north to Angra dos Reis and then follow signs to the waterfront.

One of the cons of driving to Ilha Grande is having to pay daily rates for parking; another is dealing with the infamous Sao Paulo traffic when departing the city. There can also be heavy traffic along the corridor between Sao Paulo and Río de Janeiro, so to avoid traffic, you might consider the alternative to driving your car or taking the bus. If getting to the island fast is important to you, then the best way to Ilha Grande is to fly to Río and then take a transfer to the island.

The fastest way from São Paulo to Ilha Grande is to fly to Rio, and then take a transfer from the airport to the island.

Direct transfers from Sao Paulo to Ilha Grande do not exist, but there are transfers from Río de Janeiro to the island, and they also include the boat.

If you were to drive or take a bus from Sao Paulo to Ilha Grande it would take at least 6 hours if you were lucky with the traffic. A flight from Sao Paulo to Rio takes only one hour, and a transfer from either of Rio’s airports to Ilha Grande takes 2.5 hours.   

Aeroporto Rio de Janeiro Ilha GrandeGIG airport pick-up point

Therefore the fastest way to get to Ilha Grande from Sao Paulo is by timing your flight with one of the scheduled Ilha Grande airport shuttles. It is also possible to contract a private airport transfer to meet your flight and really get there faster. 

Flying may be the fastest option, but economically speaking, is it the best way to Ilha Grande from Sao Paulo? It may sound expensive to fly, but with more flights between Sao Paulo and Río than between any other two cities in Brazil, there are fantastic flight deals to be found. 

It is up to the individual to decide whether the time you save by flying to Rio is worth the extra expense. For those who would prefer to spend more time on the island and less time getting there, this is the best way from Sao Paulo to Ilha Grande. When adding up the cost of fuel and parking, driving to Angra dos Reis and then taking a boat to Ilha Grande may not be that much cheaper. 

But if you would prefer to go to Angra dos Reis from Sao Paulo then read the following to receive information about the boats that go to Ilha Grande.

Boats from Angra dos Reis to Ilha Grande

There is a large ferry you can take from Angra dos Reis to Ilha Grande which operates once per day. There are also speedboats that carry passengers several times a day and get you to the island faster.  

cais do Santa Luzia PierAccess point for the fast boats from Angra dos Reis – Santa Luzia Pier

We will explain the speedboat crossings first which we believe are the better option, and then give information about the ferry to Ilha Grande. If you are going to Araçatiba or Praia Vermelha, you can also read about the boats going to that part of the island.

Flexboats from Angra dos Reis to Vila do Abraão

Flexboats are the commercial speedboats that cross between Angra do Reis and Ilha Grande. The Flexboats depart Angra dos Reis from the Santa Luzia pier and take around 30-40 minutes to get to the Estacao Abraão pier on the island, which is an hour faster than the Ilha Grande ferry takes to arrive.

Whereas the ferry can take hundreds of people, the flexboats can only take 30 to 50 passengers each trip. Therefore, we recommend that you pre-book your tickets for these boats in advance because they are more popular due to how much faster they are than the ferry.

Ferry to Ilha Grande from Angra dos Reis 

The ferry to Ilha Grande departs Angra dos Reis from the Cais da Lapa, and it arrives at the Cais do Abraão on the island. The crossing takes 1.5 hours so if you are not in a rush to get to Ilha Grande, then you might consider the ferry, because, otherwise choose the Flexboat to get there in 30 minutes. The ferry departs Angra dos Reis at 14:00 on weekdays, and at 12:00 midday on weekends. 

Balsa Angra dos Reis Ferry

This ferry only serves Abraão on Ilha Grande, so if you wish to travel to Araçatiba or Praia Vermelha, you must use a Flexboat. 

Flexboats to Araçatiba or Praia Vermelha

The only regular boats to Araçatiba or Praia Vermelha leave from Angra dos Ries. In comparison to Vila do Abraão on the east side, fewer people stay on the west side, which means there are fewer departures each day to Araçatiba or Praia Vermelha.

Flexboats are also used to cross there, and it takes up to 40 minutes to get to Araçatiba, and 50 minutes to get to Praia Vermelha. If your hotel has a pier, the boat will drop you off there, otherwise, you will be dropped off at the nearest public pier to your accommodation. You need to specify where you are going when making your booking.

Ilha Grande Airports

There is not even a landing strip on the island, thus the closest commercial airports to Ilha Grande are located in Río de Janeiro city. There is a small airport in Angra dos Reis, but it does not receive commercial flights. 

The Rio international airport (which also receives many domestic flights) is called the Galeão – Aeroporto Internacional Tom Jobim or simply called ‘GIG’ due to its airport code. The Santos Dumont (SDU) airport only receives Brazilian domestic flights and is located close to the central business district of Río de Janeiro city.

Out of these two airports, neither is better than the other for getting to Ilha Grande. Just take the best flight option to Río which gets you there before 14:00. This is so that you have the best chance of making it to ​Conceição de Jacareí​ (a 2-hour drive) before the last boat of the day departs. If your flight arrives later in the afternoon or evening, then it is also possible to arrange a private service by transfer which includes a private boat from Río to Ilha Grande.

Also read:

How long should you stay on Ilha Grande?

Options for 1 to 7 day stays

Best place to stay on Ilha Grande

See our tips

How long to stay on Ilha Grande?

How long should you stay on Ilha Grande?

Options for 1 to 7 day stays

Best place to stay on Ilha Grande!

Best place to stay on Ilha Grande

See our tips