At the southwestern tip of Rio de Janeiro state sits the colonial town of Paraty. Part of the Costa Verde or Green Coast, the city of 36,000 has become a hub for tourists looking to interact with nature. The contrast between the dozens of islands in the Bay of Ilha Grande and the tropical forest mountains that rise up above the town create stunning views.
We took a comfortable four-and-a-half hour bus ride down from the site of the 2016 Summer Games to the resort town in the morning and quickly made our way onto a boat, hopping from island to island by lunchtime. We rented a private boat for R$60/hour (about US$20/hour) for a three-hour tour around the bay, including a stop to snorkel at “Little Fish Island” and a pay-by-the-kilo seafood lunch buffet on the next island over.
The schools of sergeant major and tang swam around oyster-incrusted rocks, but the real treat was up on land, where a trio of agoutis (an adorable native rodent) played on a rock that rose up out of the water. Tropical birds of brilliant hues flitted through the trees. A pair of slaty-breasted rail dipped into the water. And a tiny marmoset curiously watched all the action from a nearby branch.
It was a beautiful, relaxing day and much-needed respite from the craziness of the Olympic Games. And completely worth the trip next time you’re in Rio.