You can hire boats to explore Ilha do Mel and nearby islands. Reliable boatman Isael Pereira leaves from Praia do Farol; he charges R$350 for Ilha do Superagüi, R$300 for Ilha das Peças, R$250 for Ilha das Palmas and R$150 for Fortaleza and Baía dos Golfinhos. Odara Transportes Marítimo is another dependable option.
Ilha do Mel has no shortage of beaches. Those facing the bay enjoy warm waters gently lapping at the white sand, while those facing the ocean boast the big surf. But almost all of them are unspoiled, marked only by windswept dunes, forested hills and rocky outposts. Praia da Fora and Praia Grande are a 20-minute walk (2km) from Nova Brasília and a 40-minute walk (4km) from Encantadas. According to local surfers, in winter these beaches have the best waves in Paraná.
The Praia do Farol is the long stretch of sand between the Nova Brasília dock and the Farol das Conchas. It is backed by the swampy, grassy, protected area of the restinga (a tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forest unique to Brazil), which also preserves the natural beauty of the beach. Surfers congregate at the base of the hill and ride the legendary Ondas das Paralelas.
If you didn’t bring your surfboard, you might prefer the calmer, warmer waters of the beaches that face the shallow bay. In the north, Praia da Fortaleza, often nearly deserted, allows you to bathe in the shadow of the 18th-century Portuguese fort. The best beach near the settlement of Encantadas is Praia da Fora, which has big waves and a few stalls selling cervejas (beers) and sucos (fruit juices).
Biking is a great way to beat the heat and land on the sand faster. Note that you cannot take bikes to Encantadas due to large rocks in the path.
Most of the hotels are clustered in the village of Nova Brasília, which occupies the isthmus linking the two ends of the island, and Vila do Farol, just east of Nova Brasilía. Prices are for the summer high season – book ahead for holidays and any November to March weekend. Expect discounts of 20% to 50% between April and October. Camping is available.
Encantadas is less charming than Nova Brasília, though it has more of a village ambiance. There is a party scene on the beach itself which has more infrastructure than other beaches, and the contrasting atmosphere is otherwise a quieter mashup of simpler residential abodes with vaguely hippy-dippy transients, campers and backpackers.
Fewer and farther between, accommodations around Fortaleza are effective for escaping the summer crowds. However, it’s a good one-hour, 3km hike from the Nova Brasília pier. Otherwise, catch a boat taxi, which charge R$20 per person if there is a group, but will sting you for R$50 if you're on your own.
There are a number of good restaurants in both Praia do Farol and Encantadas, with a number of cheaper eats congregating in the latter. Seafood is obviously what's for dinner.
Drinking & Nightlife
Encantadas draws a beach party scene fueled by acoustic guitar–wielding wanderers, especially in summer, and Shams caters to a bar crowd with live music. Guesthouses in Vila do Farol such as Treze Luas and Astral da Ilha draw drinking crowds as well, as do Grajagan Surf Resort and Mahalo Hostel Bar in Praia Grande.
The fatter, northern half of the island is a no-go ecological preserve. The hillier southern portion is the locale of three small villages: Nova Brasília and Praia do Farol near the isthmus, and Encantadas at the far southern tip. Ilha do Mel's easternmost point is marked by its landmark lighthouse sitting atop a morro (hill) 2km and 750m east of Nova Brasília and Praia do Farol, respectively. Another smaller settlement, Encantadas, at the southern end of the island, is the closest point to the mainland. A 6km trail on the east coast links the two towns, traversing a series of undeveloped beaches including Praia da Fora, Praia do Miguel and Praia Grande.