Ilha do Papagaio: An eco-tourist’s paradise
Surrounded by more than 328,084 square feet of naturally preserved vegetation, Ilha do Papagaio, or Parrot Island, is perfect for nature lovers dreaming of a luxury eco-resort experience. Around 20 miles from Florianópolis, it’s less five star luxury than Ponta dos Ganchos, but what it lacks in pampering it makes up for in incredible scenery and wildlife. You can reach the island by helicopter if you’re feeling flash, but it’s more enjoyable to rock up in a boat, as the 40-minute journey across the glistening bay from Florianópolis is fabulous.
The family-run resort is the only hotel on the island, providing honeymooners with a great contrast from the buzzy cities they fly into, such as Rio, Sãu Paulo or Florianópolis. The 21 lodges, colourful and individually decorated, are spread around the island so you really can get away from it all and not converse with a soul, if that’s your bag. We loved the blue-and-white-checked Lodge 5, with its four-poster bed and ocean view balcony with a hammock. But we also adored the pretty Lodge 4, set on stilts above rocks right on the beach-edge, so it’s possible to gaze at the waves and sunset behind the mountains from your white canopied bed. There’s a thatched bar where you can sip cocktails to your hearts’ content and a delightful restaurant, where as much of the menu as possible is sourced locally: think homemade breads and croissants in the morning and oysters and shellfish for supper, caught daily from the resort’s marine farm.
As you’d expect living somewhere this naturally beautiful, the owners are into ecotourism. The environmentally protected coastline is a breeding area for Right Whales that pass by between July and November. As well as whale spotting, explore the eight hiking trails which criss-cross the island for a chance to bird-watch and see rare, delicate orchids. Another fun day out is a boat excursion around neighbouring Region Islands, including Moleques do Sul Island, with its Indian-head-shaped natural totem, great colony of marine birds and the endemic guinea pig (wild cavy). This really is the perfect combination of adventure and romance.
When to go
The islands have a sub-tropical climate, with temperatures averaging between 15-26°C. November to March has the highest rainfall, and the best months to visit are April and May before the weather turns colder June to September.