First stop Rio de Janeiro
Rio is a lively vibrant city, there are so many things to see and do, we made a short list of the main things we wanted to visit in the time we had.
Our hotel was near Copacabana Beach, it was lovely to walk there and sit at the beach bars for a refreshing drink in the sun. The beaches were quite busy, thought they were clean. A few people were playing volley ball and other sports and the Brazilian women were beautiful, I (Cat) loved the Brazilian bikinis as you do not get many tan lines! (Aka there is not much material and less so on the bottoms compared to English ones).
We loved the traditional Brazilian steakhouse restaurants which have a large salad buffet you help yourself to and they walk round with different meats/chicken on skewers that have been marinated and flame grilled. The food was so tasty we went back again!
Of course the main item on our list that we wanted to do (along with the hordes of tourists) is Christ the Redeemer on top of Corcovado mountain. The queues etc were not bad, we got to the top and the view was beautiful and our photos were amazing!
We also visited Sugar Loaf Mountain were you go up in the cable cars. This was quite high, the views are amazing and we enjoyed the visit.
We also saw the Olympic park and visited a shop that made the Brazilian costumes for carnivals, which are very colourful, vibrant and have jewels and feathers everywhere!
We also wanted to visit the Favelas (slums) and also the dancing/parties in the streets and Iguazu falls, but did not have the time.
Hotel – Royal Rio Palace Copacabana (Copacabana, Rio)
This was a lovely hotel with good service. We cooled off in the roof top pool after a hot day out, then sat and watched the sun go down over cocktails with an amazing view. The hotel is in a great location (close to the beach and metro) and the rooms are clean. The buffet breakfast was vast and varying, a very good start to the day!
This history of this island sounded intriguing, first a pirates lair then a leper colony and then it housed prisoners so it was left relatively untouched. It is a small island that you can only walk around or get boat (the only motorised vehicles are the police car, fire engine and rubbish truck). Beautiful beaches and a lovely little colonial town to walk around. We loved strolling down the beach on an evening and picking a table set out on the sand lit up by candles for a relaxing evening meal.
We took a boat around the island with a small group and a guide. He stopped at certain spots so we could swim and took us snorkelling. It was great, there were puffer fish, star fish etc, the water was crystal clear and the sea life flourishing.
This was a lovely place on the ocean front a few minutes walk from the ferry landing (good as there are no motorised vehicles to get you around). The rooms were basic and clean, electricity, hot water and WIFI quite acceptable for a small island.
How to get from Ilha Grande to Recife
From Ilha Grande we got the ferry back to the main land and booked a transfer to the airport in Rio. From the airport we flew to Recife using Tam airlines.
This was a short one night stop on the way to the island of Fernando de Noronha so we did not get much time to look around, we hoped to do this on the way back from the island.
We chose this hotel for a one night stay to break up our journey from Ilha Grande to the island of Fernando De Noronha. It is a large hotel with an outdoor pool, restaurant, bar and very clean and nice rooms. We relaxed by the pool and enjoyed a lovely evening meal and wine.
We enjoyed the short stay so much we booked this hotel for our return journey so we could relax by the pool and enjoy the good service before flying home.
How to get from Receife to Fernando De Noronha
From the hotel in Recife we got a taxi to the airport and had a flight booked with TAM airlines (takes just over an hour) to take us to the island of Fernando De Noronha and arrange for the hotel to pick us up.
Fernando De Noronha – island
This was our most anticipated part of our journey! With the beaches voted the best in the world from numerous sources over the years, we could not wait to get to this island, we definitely saved the best for last!
This is a UNESCO world heritage site, protected national marine park and ecological sanctuary. Beautiful undisturbed beaches, perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving. The water is warm and crystal clear and full of sea life including turtles and dolphins.
The frequency of the planes is to limit the footfall to the island. At the airport you have to pay an Environment Protection Tax. It is not cheap, accommodation is more expensive than the mainland, most of the food and drinks are flown in so they are expensive. Saying this, it is worth it!
We wanted to see as much as we could in time we had so we hired a buggy to get us round the island which was great! There is one long concrete road running from the airport to the other end of the island and the other roads are all mud and potholes that the buggy can handle, your bounced around a lot, its great fun!
We got a map from the pousada and did our best to visit every beach and area we could on the island. There are some amazing spots and Baia do Sancho is one of them. To get to this beach you walked along the path through the forest near to the cliff edge and climbed down ladders on the sheer cliff face, some parts of this were tight if you had a backpack on! Feeling rather adventurous, we got to the bottom to a totally deserted breathtaking beach. We walked along the white sand and found some shade, dumped our stuff and headed straight into the warm clear water. Swimming, snorkelling, sunbathing, this was the most idyllic romantic spot we had been to. It was deserted, we had it to ourselves and it was nature at its best.
Within walking distance of our pousada there are restaurants and bars and a walk a little further brought us to restaurants with a beautiful view of the beach and sea from high up on the cliff.
On the island most accommodation are pousadas (family run inns) and are basic. We had to book in advance as it goes quick, make sure you have somewhere to stay before booking. This is not like most islands where you can turn up and find somewhere, there are only a certain number of people allowed at a time and it is very popular.
We stayed at the Pousada Fortaleza, the room as an ok size and clean. The breakfast and afternoon tea were good. There were loungers outside so you could relax in the sun or shade. The staff are friendly and spoken English. They arranged for a buggy to be dropped off outside the door for us to get around the island.
Restaurants and bars where a short walk down a slight hill.
How to get from Ilha Grande to Recife
We got a transfer to the airport from the pousada and flew back to Recife with Tam airlines (takes just over and hour).
We stayed at the Mar Hotel for one night on our way to the island and enjoyed it so we booked this again for our short stay before leaving Brazil.
After the basic accommodation on the island it is nice to have a little luxury, good air conditioned room and a power shower! We sunbathed, enjoyed the pool, had a lovely evening meal and enjoyed the good service and a great nights sleep before flying home the next day.
Brazil is an adventure! There is so much to see and do we loved it. We planned just the right amount of things in the time we had and were happy that we had seen as much as we could. Another one off the bucket list!
Date of trip – November 2014