Ilhabela Island is a great attraction in the coast between Sao Paulo and Rio. Covered with tropical foliage, dozens of waterfalls and excellent beaches, Ilhabela is a highlight in Sao Paulo state.
Sao Sebastiao is in front of Ilhabela, in inland. Regular ferries depart every half an hour to/from Sao Sebastiao and to/from Ilhabela (the crossing takes around 20 minutes).
Sao Jose dos Campos is the main city nearby (about 116 Kms / 75 miles from Ilhabela, while Sao Paulo is almost 200 Kms / 125 miles distant). Sao Jose dos Campos has its own airport, assuring some local flights to Ilhabela.
Best time to visit Isabela
Ilhabela is a bustling and crowded destination in the summer months (from mid-December to the end of March), especially in January, weekends and the Easter week. Ilhabela sailing week (in July) also brings many people to the island.
Summer is the high season, and the best time of the year to visit Ilhabela, Sao Jose dos Campos and Sao Sebastiao. Air temperature will increase as high as 90º F/32ºC, and it rains significantly (the summer is the rainy season) but that’s the best time for sea sports, beach-going and amusement (Ilhabela offers lots of fun and nightlife opportunities).
But the summer months have also obvious disadvantages: besides being crowded (accommodation should be booked sufficiently early) in the summer, hotels rates went up sharply.
And what about the other months?
The winter months (June to September) bring many days of pleasant weather, but temperatures high enough for beach going. That’s not the best time to go.
As to the September to November (Spring) and April to June (Autumn) months, they are sunny but there are also bursts of unsettled weather. There are many pleasant days, and seawater temperatures can be quite reasonable, but we cannot be sure of that. This region is far south of the Brazilian tropical beaches, and though not far from Rio, the weather is a little more unsettled and sometimes it makes cold (at least for those who want to enjoy the sea).
Ilhabela region & Google Map
Accommodation in Ilhabela is expensive and scarce. Many Paulistas and Sao Jose dos Campos inhabitants take vacations in Ilhabela, booking early. An alternative to accommodation in Ilhabela is to stay in Sao Sebastiao, and visiting Ilhabela from there.
Take also into account the Brazilian summer period (December-February). During this period, there are long queues, the hotel prices are much higher and booking is much more difficult.
Sao Paulo Guarulhos Intl. Guarulhos Intl is the main international airport serving Ilhabela, Sao Sebastiao and Sao Jose dos Campos.
Sao Jose dos Campos has its own airport, with flights to Ilhabela, but its scope is predominantly regional.
Transfers from the airport
There is in Sao Paulo Guarulhos a wide service of taxis and there are buses every few minutes to several destinations including Sao Jose dos Campos, Sao Sebastiao, and, from there, to Ilhabela.