Things to do on Cardoso Island – Ecotourism

Cardoso Island (Ilha do Cardoso) – A natural paradise for those seeking isolation and contact with nature

A paradise that is difficult to access, but presents countless surprises for its visitors. The State of São Paulo is best known for its constant movement. But what few know is that its coastal region is home to spectacular landscapes such as Ilha do Cardoso. An almost untouched place with 90% of its region covered by the largely preserved Atlantic Forest. Check out what to do on Cardoso Island.

Cardoso Island

Cardoso Island is located in the mesoregion of the South Coast of São Paulo. The area consists of more than 13,600 thousand hectares and is home to an enormous diversity of fauna and flora. Furthermore, it has a population made up of caiçaras and indigenous people (Guarany m’bya) and, during high season and holidays, it has the presence of tourists. In July 1962, it stopped being just an island and became a UNESCO natural heritage site.

After the support of federal units and laws, it was legally called Ilha do Cardoso State Park. Despite having limited access to nautical transport, it has gradually become a popular place for ecotourism lovers. However, in addition to being a natural heritage site, the site was also considered to be of historical and cultural importance. Since there are other activities to be done on the Island, not only nature tourism, but also strolling through the ruins of the post-colonial period, visiting archaeological sites (sambaquis) and enjoying the local cuisine.

With beaches with crystal clear waters, waterfalls, mangroves, dunes, restingas and tree forests, Cardoso Island is a breathtaking place! It is considered one of the most beautiful and preserved islands on the south coast of São Paulo and recommended not only for those who love hiking and camping, but for people who respect nature and seek adventure.

Things to do on Cardoso Island

Paisagem da Ilha do Cardoso
Cardoso Island.

As it is an island, leisure options can be distributed between: beaches, trails and activities inherent to these environments. In total, the place has 7 beaches, namely: Marujá, Laje, Itacuruçá, Ipanema, Cambriú, Foles and Pereirinha.

The archaeological sites that prove human occupation of up to 10 thousand years in the region are also highlighted among visitors to the site. In general, to visit the beaches you need to pay an average of R$80 reais, using the ferry or boat that is full.

Cardoso Island is divided into seven communities, two of which are centers with tourist reception facilities – one of the centers is Marujá, which has the largest accommodation structure, being a reference in community-based tourism. The other visitor center is Perequê, closer to Cananéia, which has a profile more focused on daily visits; In addition to these, the other communities are Foles, Cambriú, Vila Rápida, Enseada da Baleia and Pontal do Leste, this one on the south end of the island.

Things to do on Cardoso Island: Beaches

Marujá Beach

Turistas fazendo Trilha até a Praia do Marujá.
Trail to Praia do Marujá. Photo: Disclosure.

Marujá beach, now 11 km (6.83 mile) long, offers tourists a breathtaking view. Bringing out the local beauty through the fauna, flora and the view of other islands on the horizon, Marujá is a paradisiacal place, with sands as far as the eye can see and all the splendor of the Atlantic ocean; all of this semi-desert and without buildings or structures that tarnish the magic of the place. The beach is also an access point for other tours, such as cycling to the south limit and the Laje Piscinas Walk.

Laje Beach

Praia de Laje.
Laje Beach. Photo: Disclosure.

Praia de Laje, accessed from Marujá beach and crossing a rocky shore on Morro da Tapera (or also via a trail in the forest, on the same hill), was considered one of the most beautiful deserted beaches in the State of São Paulo . Its main attraction is the panoramic view that you have when crossing the hill, in addition to being the access to a great route in the region: the walk to the Lajes pools.

Pereirinha Beach/Itacuruçá

Praia de Itacuruçá na Ilha do Cardoso.
Itacuruçá Beach. Photo: Disclosure

At Pereirinha beach, as it is better known, in addition to kiosks, upon arriving at the beach, tourists can, accompanied by environmental monitors, take the Núcleo Perequê Tour: with a Visitor Center, Natural History Museum and the Mangrove Suspension Trail; trails through the forest and kayaking. One of the main attractions of this Tour is the daily occurrence of dolphins, both when traveling by boat and close to bathers on the beach.

Still on this beach, depending on the tide of the day, you can take a walk to the rocky shore of Itacuruçá, where a replica of a 16th century landmark is located; It was a stone pattern with engraved designs, which refer to a Portuguese Possession Mark or limiter of the Treaty of Tordesillas, possibly fixed there between 1498 and 1502.

Ipanema beach

Praia de Ipanema na Ilha do Cardoso - São Paulo
Ipanema beach. Photo: Disclosure.

Ipanema beach, depending on the tide of the day, can be accessed via Pereirinha and Itacuruçá beaches, and is the path to a small and paradisiacal waterfall, Cachoeira de Ipanema; From this beach it is also possible to have a view of Ilha do Bom Abrigo, Filhote do Bom Abrigo and Ilha do Cambriú.

Foles Beach and Fole Pequeno

Praia do Fole Pequeno e ao lado a Praia do Fole na Ilha do Cardoso
Praia do Fole Pequeno and Praia do Fole next door. Things to do on Cardoso Island. Photo: Disclosure.

Praia do Foles and Fole Pequeno are about a 3h30 walk from Marujá, they are between cliffs and separated by a rock. The beaches get their name from the rocks that emit a bellows-like sound when the waves explode at high tides.

Cambriú Beach

Praia do Cambriú na Ilha do Cardoso
Cambriú Beach. Photo: Maria Fernanda Carvalho.

The peaceful Praia de Cambriú is relatively deserted and has a sea of ​​extremely calm and clean waters. The beach is recommended for diving, fishing and surfing.

Things to do on Cardoso Island: Trails

Trilhas na Ilha do Cardosos
Trails on Cardoso Island.

Village Trail

The attraction of the Trilha da Aldeia is in contemplating the mangroves of Rio da Aldeia, Areal, Barranco and Sambaqui. As well as enjoying the local fauna at the mouth of the river.

Morro de São João Trail

The attractions of the Morro São João Trail are its 4 waterfalls: Pitu, Mandira, Rio de Minas and Encanto. All accompanied by a guide, by the way.

Morro das Almas Trail

On the Morro das Almas Trail it is common to see several species of bromeliads along the way, 41 species of which are already cataloged in the Ilha do Cardoso State Park.

Sambaqui and Rocky Coast Trail

The Sambaqui and Rocky Coast Trail crosses the interior of the hillside forest and rocky shores.

What to do on Cardoso Island: Boat Trips

Turismo de Natureza na Ilha do Cardoso passeios de barco.
Boat trips on Cardoso Island. Photo: Disclosure.

One of the main tourist attractions on Cardoso Island is boat trips, as the main highlight is watching dolphins and porpoises, which are very common in the region.

Final considerations

We can summarize Cardoso Island as a place full of deserted beaches, trails in the middle of the preserved Atlantic Forest and dolphin watching. So if you like rustic, isolated places and want to be in contact with nature, the island is certainly one of those special places in Brazil that is little known but tends to enchant its visitors. Now that you know the attractions, check out How to Get to Ilha do Cardoso.


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