Cândido Mendes – prison hike

The hike to the prison Cândido Mendes leads you to the  Brazilian Alcatraz.  Cândido Mendes used to be a high-security prison that housed some of the country’s most dangerous prisoners. Stories from the island tell that sometimes the prisoners would try to escape and could knock on your door asking for food and clothes or taking your boat to get to the mainland. But don’t worry, there are no longer prisoners kept on the island 😉 Nowadays, Ilha Grande is a perfectly safe place.

Duration: 5-6 hours in total.

Difficulty:  Easy, but long.

Length: about 18 km total.

When to hike: All year.

What to bring: Trainers, comfortable clothing,camera, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, swimming clothes, towel or canga , some snack and water.

Opening hours: Open during daylight hours

Entry fee: Free

How to get to Cândido Mendes

The beautiful hike that takes you to Cândido Mendes starts from the small village Vila do Abraão. When you get to the main square with the church of Vila do Abraão, you continue walking 100 meters until you get to the supermarket called Portal da Ilha. Here you turn right and after another 100-150 meters and you will see a soccer field. On the left side of the soccer field there’s a sign saying Praia e Vila de Dois Rios, meaning Village of the two rivers.

See map below for more information:

The Hike

You just follow the broad road which starts going up a bit and will keep doing so. The road inside the forest is mostly sheltered by trees and you can  feel that you are inside of the jungle while you are hiking to Cândido Mendes even though the street is comfortable to walk on as it’s also one of the few streets for cars on the island.

After walking through the jungle for about 15-20 minutes, you will get to a small clearing with a viewpoint coming up on your left hand it’s a great place for some nice pictures of Vila do Abraão.

From here you continue walking and after another 15 minutes on the road you will get a water tap on your left where you can refill your water bottle.  While you are walking, you will be able to see plenty of different species of animals and plants. You can find fresh wild fruit growing here such as jackfruit or bananas and you can smell the fresh eucalyptus.  But watch out for snakes on the road, it’s always a good idea to bring a stick.

After walking uphill for about an hour, the road starts going down and will continue going down all the way until you reach Vila de Dois Rios.  When the road starts going down it’s not that sheltered anymore so you will be walking most of the second half in the sun.

After about 2 hours of walking, you reach the nice small village called Vila de Dois Rios. Here you will see a small ranger post where you need to sign yourself in with your name. From the ranger post you keep left and continue walking for a few minutes and you will see the prison Cândido Mendes  coming up in front of you.

The prison can be visited free of charge and you can stroll around and read about its history. However, the information is all in Portuguese. The prison Cândido Mendes is not preserved, so there’s not much left of the original place. But the walk to the prison is nice and when you get there it’s a reminder that the most dangerous criminals of Brazil where kept here.

The big plus with this hike is that it also leads you to the beautiful beach of Dois Rios, the village has a river which ends into the sea, actually two rivers, one on each side. This is why the beach is called Dois Rios.  The beach is on the side of the island that faces the open ocean and the prison Cândido Mendes is located at the southern end of the beach.

A good idea before or after visiting the prison is to have a refreshing bath in Dois Rios to wash all the sweat off your body after been hiking for 2-3 hours.  Dois Rios is actually one of the most beautiful places around the island so try to spend some time there before returning to Vila do Abraão. The village also has a basic restaurant where it’s possible to have lunch or some beverages.


Do not forget to bring your swimwear you will probably be eager to jump in to the blue water when you get to Dois Rios.

Looking for more hikes on Ilha Grande? Click here!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.