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Sitting off the coast of Brazil, around 90 miles from the vibrant city of Rio de Janeiro, is the beautiful and unspoilt island of Ihla Grande, famous for its spectacular, verdant landscape, wonderfully tropical climate and stunning collection of native wildlife. The island is home to one of the richest and most fertile ecosystems in the entire world and is one of Brazil's best examples of lush Atlantic rainforest. Due to its diverse range of flora, fauna and fascinating ecology, the whole island has been declared as a protected area and the majority of it lies within the vast Ihla Grande State Park. Whilst most of the region consists of thick rainforest, beautiful golden beaches and tranquil areas of natural beauty including mountains and waterfalls, several quaint settlements are also situated across the island with a small population of local people.
The most populated and prevalent village on Ihla Grande is named Vila do Abraao, which contains the state park centre of operations as well as most of the region's important facilities. Great selections of coastal and inland activities, as well as sightseeing opportunities, are available to delight tourists across the island.
Ihla Grande boasts some of the most stunning and pristine beaches in all of Brazil. One of the most popular is Lopes Mendes, which was also recently voted as one of the ten most beautiful beaches in the world. The shallow and crystal blue water is perfect for snorkelling, swimming and surfing, attracting droves of tourists and locals to its golden shores. Several other fantastic sandy beaches are located along the island's coastline including Parnaioco, Praia de Rios, Caxadoca, Praia Santo Antonio and Praia do Aventureiro, all of which offer the ideal place to participate in an array of coastal activities or simply relax in the sun.
One of Ihla Grande biggest tourist draws is the incredible variety of rare and fascinating wildlife found in its lush Atlantic rainforests. The island has astonishing biodiversity and is also home to a number of endangered species including the brown howler monkey, the red-ruffed fruit-crow, the maned sloth, the broad-snouted caiman and the red-browed Amazon parrot. The surrounding waters also contain an array of diverse and astounding wildlife, rarely found within the same ecosystem, such as whales, penguins, coral and tropical fish.
Candido Mendes Prison
In 1940, the Candido Mendes Prison was established on Ihla Mendes, which meant that tourists could not visit the island as it was a large penal colony. The prison remained operational until 1994, when it was closed. After this closure, the island was opened up to tourists wishing to visit this fabulous state park.
The vast majority of shops are located in the main village of Vila do Abraao, where visitors can purchase a range of souvenirs, gifts and general provisions.
Tourists will find most of the island's restaurant and eateries in the village of Vila do Abraao. Although seafood is the Ihla Grande's most popular dish, visitors will also find a choice of delicious international cuisine.
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