Ilhabela, Brazil

Ilhabela means “beautiful island”. It is the current name of this large island off the coast of Brazil formerly called Ilha do Sao Sebastiao following the tradition of naming a place after the saint on whose day it was discovered.  It is part of  Sao Paulo State and is a very short distance from the mainland.   Eighty-three percent of the island is a state park and most of the island is protected wildlife habitat and officially recognized as a UNESCO World biosphere Reserve.  We are visiting during Carnival, and as today was also a Saturday, the island was very busy.  It is a resort island where many people from Sao Paulo have summer homes.  I took at tour that first went up to a viewpoint (photo). We then saw the oldest church, Igreja Nossa Senhora da Ajuda, painted in traditional blue and white, (photo) with a spectacular Christ statue in front (photo). Our next stop was an electric plant with a small waterfall beside it (photo).  The island has over 400 waterfalls which are the source of much of the household water.  We then visited a small Nautical Museum dedicated to items found in shipwrecks of which there are quite a few.  The wrecks make for good dive spots.  Our last stop was to Curral Beach, the most popular on the island.  The fact that it was a Carnival Saturday meant that it was wall to wall beach umbrellas and not really too attractive in comparison with some other beaches that I saw (photos). We weighed anchor late afternoon and sailed away past the small port and local marinas ( photos) and are headed for Rio de Janeiro. We will be there for the next three days during Carnival.

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