Angra dos Reis, a hidden pearl of Rio's south coast

Fabio Jardelino | Live the World

November 23, 2022

If you have read some of my articles by now, you have learnt that Rio de Janeiro is not just a city, but also the name of a whole state, that together with 25 other states, plus the federal district, makes the Brazilian federation. But did you know that Rio as a state has a total of 92 municipalities, which has a population of 17,3 million inhabitants? That is more than some countries around the globe, cool right? In this huge universe, I will drive you through one of the prettiest municipalities of the State of Rio. We will talk about the city of Angra dos Reis, a hidden pearl on the south coast that holds a territory of 365 islands together with its continental peninsula - one island for each day of the year. 

© Istock / Copacabana

The history of Angra dos Reis, as we know it, started on January 6th, 1502, when Portuguese explorers disembarked in its bay. The name of the city means exactly 'Bay of kings', and it comes from the Portuguese word 'Angra', which means 'bay', and the biblical reference to the Three Wise Men or the Three Kings, that are celebrated exactly on the date they arrive there. History tells that Angra dos Reis just started to be colonized after 1556, and since then, the city passed from a very important port in colonial times to the only place in all Brazil that holds nuclear power plants. By the way, the three biggest economic activities there are still the port zone, the nuclear power generation at the Angra I and Angra II plants, and, of course, tourism.

© Wikimedia Commons / Minerva97

City center

Angra dos Reis has more to offer than just the islands, such as the city's historic centre. It is still not the main tourist destination, but the city has a lot of history worth knowing if you want to understand the colonization process of Brazil. Along the tour, you can see places like the Igreja and Convento of Carmo, a building dating back to the 17th century. As the church faces the sea and is very close to the port zone, it suffered some bombardments during the French invasion attempts in the area. Together with the Dutch people, the French tried to invade Brazil several times, and because of this, battles were traced between the Portuguese colons and French pirates.

© Istock / Rainer Strehl

Not so far, walking around the center, you will come to the Rua do Comércio, the first street in Angra dos Reis. The place was designed to be the commercial center of the city and still shows buildings designed under Portuguese colonial architecture. Fun fact in here, the myth says that the street was designed with a slight curve so that the bad smell of ships that arrived in the port would not travel the entire length of the road. On the same street, you can see the church of Santa Luzia, built in 1632 because of the promise of a former resident who asked for his blind daughter to see again. There, just at the alley next to it, you can see the 'travessa de Santa Luzia', where you can still find the original colonial time floor, with the curb where the carts with the goods of the time used to pass. It is a true back in the time trip.

Famous bolt trips 

© Istock / Ranimiro Lotufo Neto

But, of course, if you go to Angra you do not stay just at the land, you also go to the sea. By the way, the islands themselves are even more famous than the city - especially when we talk about Ilha Grande, the most paradisical island of Brazil. Being the biggest island, along with 365 other ones that are part of Angra dos Reis, Ilha Grande shows up with a total area of ​​193 km², with several beaches, and a mountainous relief with the highest point measuring 1,031 meters. In one of its bays, you can find Abraão Village (or, Vila do Abraão), one of the best points to know the local culture and history. There, you can find most of the island's infrastructure, such as hotels and restaurants. In addition, a ferry departs daily from the port of Angra dos Reis to this destination.

© Wikimedia Commons / TMbux

Ideal for larger groups or for a trip that fits your budget, the schooner ride (a type of sailing vessel) in Angra dos Reis is the best option. The boat tour takes around 6 hours, and it will pass through several islands with quiet beaches, being a perfect tour for swimming and enjoying nature and the amazing view.** **Normally the schooners have the capacity for more than 100 people and also offer bar service, ambient music, and a tour guide explaining the points they are stopping. Some of the companies also have snorkel rental and underwater photography services. Try to arrive early to enjoy the best time of the day on this amazing trip.

© Istock / Cristhian Brezolin

But if you are not in the mood for big and slow boats, you can always try to schedule your trip with the fast boats. Around the city, especially at the port zone, you will find** several places that offer the rental of those fast boats, or even jet skis, both for you to drive by yourself - if you have the permission, of course - or with a sailor guide. Those options are very open for the route you choose, and normally they charge you by time and not distance. So it is a good opportunity if you do not have much time to enjoy your trip, but remember that the price here **will be way higher than the schooner ride. 

© Istock / gustavoferretti

To enjoy this trip in the best way, keep in mind that wearing light and comfortable clothes are essential. But also do not forget to bring a jacket, as it can get a bit cold on the boats because of the wind, and caps or hats, as the sun can be very severe on your skin after an entire day. Furthermore, it is very important to always use sunscreen, before and after going into the water, and - if you think it is necessary - insect repellent. If you feel like diving, bring your own snorkel gear, as it is much more hygienic than those provided by the companies.  Also very important, keep in mind to** take a small bottle of water to keep hydrated during your walks and some cash, as **some of the places in the islands do not accept credit cards.

iStock / arteparada

I hope you have enjoyed this amazing virtual trip around Angra dos Reis, the hidden pearl of Rio's south coast. It is one of my favorite spots in Rio and Brazil

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