Ilhabela (Sao Sebastiao), Brazil
In Partnership With
Volcanic peaks, stunning beaches, dense tropical jungle and some 360 waterfalls—it's no wonder Ilhabela translates to \"beautiful island\" from its unofficial Portuguese name (though officially known as São Sebastião Island, nobody dares call it anything but beautiful!). Separated from the Brazilian mainland and the town of São Sebastião by a narrow strait, the 360-square-kilometer (139-square-mile) island is the chic getaway of choice for Paulistas (natives of the city of São Paulo), who flock here for its secluded sun-toasted sands, boutique hotels, trendy restaurants and unadulterated nature (85 percent of the island has been turned into a park and UNESCO-protected biosphere). Mainstay pastimes here include beach-lazing with a caipirinha (Brazil's national cocktail, made with a sugarcane-distilled spirit known as cachaça plus sugar and limes) at the ready; water sports; trekking; and frolicking among the rich and fabulous. Whether you're diving deep into its cerulean waters in search of 16th- and 17th-century pirate shipwrecks (or windsurfing over them!), jungle hiking alongside toucans and capuchin monkeys or just plopping yourself down on any number of its idyllic beaches, Ilhabela makes no apologies for its position as São Paulo’s cosmopolitan island escape. Ain't she beautiful?