It's been 17 adventure-filled years since Ilhabela, aka “XTERRA Island,” joined the World Tour. It was love at first sight when it began and last weekend we were reminded once again why we'll never stop going back for more. So grab your gear, or a café, and join us for a photo journey to the beautiful island of Ilhabela.
Photos by Rodrigo Barreto and words by Antonio Morize.
Your Ilhabela off-roading adventure begins with a stunning journey across the great São Sebastião canal. The ferry ride takes around 20 minutes and is a wonderful opportunity to start soaking in the amazing scenery and experiences to come.
The açaí berry is a native fruit from the Amazon forest that is consumed all over Brazil. A refreshing açaí bowl goes well with the warm beachy vibe of Ilhabela, it will also give you plenty of energy to explore the wonders of the island.
If you have a sportier streak in you, Ilhabela will certainly satisfy your needs. The island is more than just a birthplace for triathletes, it is one of the best kite-surfing destinations in the world and also hosts surfers and divers all year round.
In Brazil, ball sports are king, and that isn't any different in Ilhabela. Beachgoers bring the sport right to the water's edge with a spinoff they call “altinha”- Portuguese for "a little higher." If you don't see a ball on a beach in Ilhabela, maybe there is a pandemic going on.
Stand up paddle boards are great fun, good exercise and a delightful way to explore the Ilhabela shoreline. Board hire is ideal for people wanting to try SUP at their own pace or for those just wanting to enjoy the paddle on the protected waters of the São Sebastião canal.
If you're looking for a 5-star luxury hotel, Ilhabela will not be your destination of choice. The best places to stay are lovely homestays within walking distance from the beaches that provide the comfort and simplicity necessary for you to enjoy your trip.
Ilhabela can be divided into two parts, the coastal area near the mainland and the side facing the vast Atlantic Ocean. The former has one of the most sophisticated tourist facilities in the country, with award-winning cuisine and ultra charming inns. The latter is unexplored, stunningly pretty and raw. The difficult access to this huge area rewards the adrenaline seeking individuals with paradisiacal beaches and breathtaking waterfalls. Even though tough individuals with a bike and a dream can explore the wonders of “the other side”, mere mortals will need a 4WD vehicle to enter the fun.
Ilhabela is a place for friends and family to celebrate their health and good fortune. If you’re traveling solo, not to worry, you’ll make friends fast in this welcoming community.
In the XTERRA triathlon, you’ll need to take a leap of faith off the end of this pier to start your second lap of the one-mile swim!
The mountain bike course in Ilhabela has been labeled one of the most challenging in the world. XTERRA Hall of Famer Conrad “the Caveman” Stoltz called it more of an adventure than a race.
You can’t buy this feeling, you have to earn it.
A big Congratulations to these two - Sabrina Gobbo and Diogo Malagon - the elite XTERRA Brazil off-road triathlon race winners. Sabrina is the best off-roader there has ever been from Brazil, winning this race six times including five in a row from 2014-2018! For Diogo, Ilhabela is where he won his first XTERRA major as an elite back in 2015, and it's awesome to see him on the top step once again! Click here for full results.
And a hearty WELL DONE to all the age group warriors who earned a qualifying spot into the 2022 XTERRA World Championships to be held in Trentino, Italy on October 1, 2022! And YOU KNOW the Brazilian crew will be the loudest, proudest, most raucous crew in the house ... Italy, get ready!! : )
It's been more than a decade since organizer Bernardo Fonseca and his team first introduced night running to the XTERRA Family, and it's been a fan-favorite ever since, entertaining thousands of nocturnal harriers on the shores of Ilhabela through the years.
After the night run, it's time to party! XTERRA Brazil is famous for its high energy and free spirit. "The energy here is so great, I've never been to another country that has such a festive atmosphere," said former XTERRA World Champion, Shonny Vanlandingham.
Future XTERRA Warriors get to play too, with mud-splashing obstacle-course style fun runs just for the kids.
As you can see, to experience XTERRA Brazil is to immerse yourself in adventure, and the opportunities are plentiful. With 11 event weekends from March to December featuring trail running, night runs, off-road triathlons, duathlons, mountain bike races, kids events, and more, an open-invitation to explore the Southern Hemisphere awaits you.
Discover more at xterraplanet.com/brazil