This Rustic Island In Brazil Is Hard To Reach But Ideal For Those Seeking An Escape From It All

In most cases, holidays are all about relaxing, disconnecting, and settling into a slower pace. Whether that means eating your way through your next foodie destination, or soaking up sunny days at a secluded beach, is entirely up to you. Luckily, though, there are still some hidden-gem destinations that offer an escape from the hustle and bustle.

Love nature and pristine landscapes, but hate the crowds? Ilha do Cardoso, in Brazil, has you covered. Located in the state of São Paulo, more than 170 miles south of São Paulo city, the island was officially declared as a state park in 1962. This means that all 33,600 acres of land and marsh — along with the wildlife — are protected by law.

And with less than 500 people who currently call Ilha do Cardoso home, it's an ideal destination for travelers who want to ditch the crowds and choose a touch of adventure and authenticity over all-inclusive resorts and umbrella-adorned cocktails.

Visiting Ilha do Cardoso is worth the hassle

Sure, Ilha do Cardoso is beautiful and affordable — but it's also a little tough to get to. First things first, you'll need to make your way to the city of Cananéia. To do this, you can either drive there yourself — this will take about four hours to cover the 160-mile distance — or hop on a local bus. If you choose the latter, the ride will be roughly five hours and tickets will set you back $30 for a ticket.

Once there, Ilha do Cardoso is only accessible via boat. For this leg of the journey, you'll need to connect with a local boat-owner who will make the hour-long ride. In terms of pricing, this final part of the journey will cost about $60 for a speedboat that accommodates up to four people. In most cases, the boat will drop you off in Pereirinha. From there, you can then make your way down to Marujá where most of the homestays — or "pousadas" — are located.

Keep in mind that accommodations on the island are rustic and basic — which is exactly what makes it so charming — and start from about $20 a night per person. As for where to eat, most pousadas offer basic dining for guests and locals. Additionally there are also three restaurants on the island — located in Praia do Pereirinha — that offer a hearty serving of fresh-caught fish, rice, and salad, as well as cocktails by the beach.

Other tips for your visit

The beauty of Ilha do Cardoso lies in its untouched natural beauty and things to do. The main area, Núcleo do Marujá, provides basic amenities and a beautiful beach that's perfect for relaxing under the sun. Meanwhile, Núcleo do Perequê, located in the north, offers picturesque views and access to scenic trails. Although the island's main attraction is the beaches — which are ideal for snorkeling and swimming — Ilha do Cardoso is also brimming with nature trails that lead to everything from waterfalls to natural pools. In terms of wildlife, keep your eyes peeled for the many species of birds flying overhead, as well as dolphins, monkeys, caimans, and more. Other must-do activities include a stop by the Natural History Museum where you can explore a collection of wildlife taxidermy and skeletal displays.

As for planning your trip, the best time to visit Ilha do Cardoso is between April and September. During these months there's less chance of rain and the weather is still pleasant — while evenings might drop to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, daytime temperatures hover around 73 degrees Fahrenheit.

Packing light is recommended, especially since the journey can be lengthy and involves multiple modes of transportation. Just make sure you bring the essentials — including your swimsuit, beach towel, sunscreen, bug spray, and comfortable clothing for various outdoor activities — since there are little to no retail stores on the island where you can shop for supplies.