The aptly named Emerald or Green Coast runs from Rio de Janeiro to Santos - with more than a hundred beaches and numerous islands providing a weekend playground for the rich and famous from Rio. A highlight, just 150 kms scenic drive southwest of Rio, is Angra dos Reis. Turquoise waters, lush vegetation and breathtaking waterfalls surround this tropical paradise.
Close by is Ilha Grande, a mountain ridge covered in tropical forests rising out of an emerald sea and surrounded by some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. As there are no roads and therefore no cars, the island is still relatively undeveloped. It is a haven of relaxation for the barefoot beachcomber and there are magnificent views all around. There are no large resort hotels, just informal pousada guesthouses with a handful of rooms. Most are located within easy reach of the open air restaurants, shops and cafes of the island’s only settlement, Abraão.
Another couple of hours down the road will take you to Paraty (98 kms from Angra do Reis), one of Brazil’s prettiest colonial towns. It was the chief port for the export of gold in the 17th century and a coffee-exporting port in the 19th century. Many hours can be whiled away browsing the boutiques and are galleries, or buying souvenirs from the Gurani Indians who sell their wares on the cobbled streets. For the more active a bicycle tour into the nearby hills or a schooner trip to one of the multitude of small uninhabited islands are a perfect way to relax.