- Oficial Name: não há.
- Extension: 7,4 km
- Duration: 02:15min
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 337 m
- Difficulty: 02 (easy)
The Honey Island – Ilha do Mel in portuguese – is a quiet refuge, abundant and preserved nature and sensational natural beauties. It is located in the south of Brazil, in Paranaguá Bay, on the Paraná coast. The island is an environmental reserve and a World Heritage site. You feel that the place is really amazing for hiking?
The island has a very rustic structure and there is no traffic of motor vehicles, only bikes. Thus, there are many trails to walk on, from end to end of the island.
Everything you need to know about the villages
The Honey Island has five villages: Fortaleza, Nova Brasilia (also called Brasilia only), Farol, Praia Grande and Encantadas. The boats that cross the mainland reach only Nova Brasília and Encantadas, but negotiating with boatmen it is possible to reach the other villages as well. (See more information on how to get to the end of the article).
Praia Grande and Fortaleza have few houses (many rented in the high season) and very few options of pousadas. The town of Farol almost joins Nova Brasília, which is the busiest, with more inns, restaurants and also closer to the lighthouse. Already, Encantadas is quieter, has good options for inns and restaurants, and is closer to the Gruta das Encantadas. Both are indicated, hard to choose.
We preferred Enchanted by having more locals and less movement. Then we arrived by boat from Pontal do Sul in the late afternoon and the sunset was worth the trip!
We slept in a small house and the next day we were ready to hike, which would last the whole day.
A litlle bit of History…
The name Ilha do Mel does not have an origin assured by the historians. Several hypotheses are known, but the one that more predominates would be by the beekeeping with the extraction of wild honey in the own island, before the years of 1950.
Another hypothesis would be the frequent visits of Admiral Mehl’s family to the island, before World War II.
And yet one last would be for the fresh water existing in the island contain mercury that in contact with the salt water changes its coloration to a yellowish tone, similar to the color of the honey.
Hiking the Honey Island Trail
The Ilha do Mel has 35 km of total perimeter, being divided between the northern part (Ecological Station and Environmental Protection Reserve with 22 km) and the southern part (the part with urban occupation with 13 km of perimeter). We can walk through it all. Our trail traveled through the southern part and the northern part only to Fortaleza, see the map below.
We left Encantadas early. In front of the embarkation / disembarkation of the boats, the trail begins where the route cuts the village from the inside until reaching the Cave of Encantadas, which is the largest Natural Monument of the island, formed by water forces hundreds of years ago.
The trail is sand and vegetation, typical of the beach, and to access the cave there is a walkway that facilitates the final route. Take a peek inside.
Legend has it that mermaids inhabited the vicinity of the cave and “enchanted” the boatmen, who ended up crashing on the rocks of the place and told the locals that it was the enchanted that bewitched him. From there came the name of the place.
The beach near the cave is called Praia da Boia and has calm waters. At low tide time it is possible to get around Ponta da Nha Pina by the beach to Mar de Fora beach, but the tide rises very fast. If it is not accessible, just go inside by the trail. The ascent of about 20 meters in the Ponta da Nha Pina is worth the look of the beach from above.
Mar de Fora Beach is very wide and very compact sand. Easy walk through it. There is a small water course that follows in the direction of the sea where they inhabit several small fish and seafood. Beautiful!
At the end of the beach we arrived at the Morro do Sabão, a very slippery crossing on cloudy or post-rainy days, when the stones become very smooth. Just take care and climb the about 40 meters of the hill, where there is the Mirador of the Chapel of San Francisco de Assis (the white cross at the top of the hill of the second photo below), and to access Miguel Beach, one of the most beautiful on the Honey Island. From the top of the Morro do Sabão you can also see the Farol das Conchas (Lighthouse of Shells), at the bottom of the landscape.
Miguel Beach is one of the most deserted, as there is no structure there and access is only from the trail of Morro do Sabão, or on the other side from Morro do Meio. Untouched nature. Stop and enjoy the look!
The walk is easy now until the Morro do Meio, where you must climb by round stones. You have to be very careful in this section, because the stones have many “cracas”, which are very sharp calcified crustaceans (the photo below is from that site). When we were passing a girl in the opposite direction she was wearing a flip-flop, slipped and cut her foot. Then there is an alert: always littoral trail with suitable footwear and that it fixes well in the foot!
Finished the section of Morro do Meio (82 meters, but the trail does not reach the top), the beach that follows is Praia Grande (Big Beach), where there is an ecoresort and is one of the most frequented of the Island.
The Ponta do Joaquim is a rocky hill that closes the beach and the trail goes now from the side of the ecoresort, inside the forest, passing by the village of Farol until to the Lighthouse, the main island. If you want to know Praia de Fora, which is next to the lighthouse, there is a derivation of the trail that follows there, just follow the signs.
Until the Lighthouse have already gone 4 km traveled in 1: 50min to appreciate all the beauty of the island. And now it’s time to climb the 150 steps that lead to the Lighthouse. The view is amazing and you can see almost the whole island, its beaches and geographic cutouts. The internal visitation to the lighthouse is not allowed.
The Praia do Farol (Farol Beach), at the foot of the hill that houses it, is beautiful, so much so that it served as a location for the Brazilian film “O Ostra e o Vento”, with two famous actors: Leandra Leal and Lima Duarte. The lighthouse dominates the scene in several scenes!
A little bit of History…
D. Pedro II thinking about modernizing the Brazilian commercial navigation requested the construction of the Lighthouse of Shells in 1870.
The works were carried out by an English company and the materials were imported from Scotland, which at the time had the most advanced technology in the sector. The Lighthouse was inaugurated on April 1 (not a lie!) Of 1872. It is on top of the Morro das Conchas (about 80 meters) and can be seen from almost every point of Ilha do Mel.
Passing through the lighthouse and its beach, we arrive at the Istmo Beach (or Passa-Passa as the locals call it), as the name says, it is a very narrow stretch (30 meters) that almost totally divides the island in two. Here are anchored many fishermen’s boats, the residents and also the tourists who own boats. Need a taxi? This is where you will find the nautical taxis. Just negotiate the price and go!
From here there are two trail options to the next point of interest, the historic Fortress: by the beach and the forest. If the day is pleasant, the beach will have a beautiful look! But on warm days, the 6 km course can be quite exhausting with the sun set, so go for the woods. We have already done the trail on two occasions and each time by a path.
After a 6 km route, you reach the Fortress of Nossa Senhora dos Prazeres, dating from the 18th century. The fort is open to visitation is an important historical heritage site, which has been restored and is relatively well preserved. It houses some military cannons of the time and exhibits telling the history of the place. Admission is free.
A little bit of History…
The Fortress of Nossa Senhora dos Prazeres is the only military monument of the 18th century of Paraná. Its construction was completed on April 23, 1769 and the purpose was to protect Paranaguá Bay, an important maritime commercial warehouse.
The Fortress is at the top of Morro da Baleia and there is a short but steep trail to reach the top of the 73 meters of altitude. There is the so-called “Labyrinth of Cannons”, with anti-aircraft defense equipment in well-structured trenches. There is also a belvedere to have a panoramic view of Praia da Fortaleza and the northern area of island. On clear days it is possible to see Ilha das Peças and Ilha de Superagui as well.
If you want to continue the long walk, from the other side of Fortaleza (photo below) you can walk at low tide to Ponta Oeste. It is a deserted beach with preserved nature.
We chose to return to Vila Nova Brasília and from there by boat (photo below) to Encantadas. Anyone who is willing to return to Encantadas can be on the same trail, passing all the beaches again. We still get to enjoy another sunset and of course take a sea bath!
How to get to Honey Island
The boats to Honey Island leave from Paranaguá or Pontal do Paraná from Pontal do Sul beach. From Paranaguá the route is longer and longer (1h: 30min), however there are more buses in the city to capital Curitiba, or other city. From Pontal do Sul the journey takes 30 minutes.
It is important to see which is the closest village of your lodging, thus avoiding double displacement, since the boats arrive either in Encantadas, or in Nova Brasília. For these two villages there is a regular boat line during the day that leaves hourly.
For those who are in larger groups, there is also the option of the nautical taxis, who charge the route and it is possible to negotiate the trip to other points of the island as well. In Pontal do Sul, near the maritime station, several companies are offering this service. In Pontal do Sul there are also several parking lots for those who go by car and the Bus Station is very close to the place of departure of the boats.
- In Honey Island there is no public lighting, so it is important to bring a lantern to move at night. The whole island is pretty safe.
- There are good restaurants and bars, as well as well stocked markets.
- As an environmental protection area, the visitation to island is restricted to a capacity of 5,000 visitors. Even in high season it is difficult to get to the number, but in the Christmas and New Year season you need to have more attention.
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