Archives: Islands

The island of São Vicente is best known for its culture, music and carnival.

This cultural island with its vibrant capital Mindelo is one of those places, with a full calendar of activities and events. Whether its the elaborate Carnival festivities in February or the Baia das Gatas full moon party in August with lots of music and dancing, there’s always something going on.

Music plays an important role in the island’s existence and every evening, you’ll find local musicians jamming in the restaurants or small music venues. The famous ‘Queen of Morna’ Cesária Évora was born on the island and a sightseeing tour of Mindelo will always end in a visit to a guitar-making workshop.

The island is a great base to island-hop by ferry to neighbouring Santo Antão

São Nicolau is a delightful, quiet island, with an air of sophistication and excellent walking opportunities.

Home to Cape Verde’s prettiest town Ribeira Brava, it has managed to stay off the tourist path.

From the coast cobbled paths and terraced fields stretch up into the green mountainside transforming the island into a walkers paradise, with amazing views along the way.

If you stay in Riberia Brava (or Vila, as the locals call it), you’ll have easy access to the walks on the northwest of the island, and you can visit the pretty village of Ribeira da Prata and the strange rock formations at Caberinha.

People say that there’s a unique mood on this island and the beaches at Tarrafal are rumoured to have healing powers so don’t be surprised when you see explorers buying sand.

Further to the east lies Juncalinho a small village surrounded by steep valleys and jagged rock formations.

 

The island of Santo Antão in Cape Verde will take your breath away.

A cross between Morocco and the Himalayas it has immense volcanic walls, seemingly inaccessible ravines, and perfectly farmed terraced valleys with banana and mango trees and of course fields of sugar cane.

Explore this stunning island on a guided tour by vehicle or on foot and you’ll soon realise why the locals call it the garden of Eden.

There are many great walking trails, like the Cova Crater down to the Paul Valley or the dramatic coastal walk from Cruzinha to the charming fishing town of Ponta do Sol.

If you have more time, then you should definitely visit the remote western part of the island, climb its highest peak Tope de Coroa (1979m) and then spend some time in charming Tarrafal.

Santiago is a wonderful fusion of all the Cape Verdean islands put together.

The capital Praia is a bustling, vibrant city built over several plateaus. But head off into the interior and you’ll find mountain peaks and fertile valleys of manioc and banana.

If you only have one day on the island, then you should definitely visit the archipelago’s oldest settlement Cidade Velha, which became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2009.

Nowadays a charming village along the coast, the area attracts a lot of people, wanting to visit the fort which overlooks the village, the churches and the pelourinho a 16th-century pillory used to punish slaves.

The island’s second largest city Assomada should also not be missed, especially on a Saturday and Wednesday when the African market attracts a lot of locals and visitors alike. Here you can buy anything from chicken to furniture.

Lovely Tarrafal has sandy beaches and is the ideal base to relax or dive.

There is a lot more to Sal than its popular beautiful beaches and bustling Santa Maria.

On the approach, the island appears below you like a long-forgotten desert island. You can easily spot the Pedra de Lume salt pans on to the west and the half moon bay of Santa Maria to the south.

It is the most barren of the inhabited islands on the archipelago, but don’t let that put you off; there are some lovely sandy beaches and the water sports activities in Santa Maria are excellent with good diving, wind and kite surfing.

Surrounded by black lava rock Buracona looks like an inviting natural swimming pool, but don’t let this fool you, as often waves crash over the rock and care should be taken when you walk on the rocks. The nearby Blue Eye is an underground pool where only experienced divers dare to dive through the underground tunnel that eventually comes out into the sea.

 

Elusive Maio is a beautiful desert island with lovely beaches fringed by turquoise seas.

It is the least visited island of Cape Verde and still relatively unspoiled by tourism. This means that its lovely secluded beaches offer a great counterpoint to those of Sal and Boavista, where the beaches are much busier.

Try a jeep safari around the island and discover the many beaches which are hidden from the road. Salina de Porto Inglês – a large salt lake – is worth a visit if you’re a keen bird watcher or if you’re interested to see how the salt is sorted, ground and packed by local women.

Make sure you take some time to visit the attractive town of Vila do Maio (the main town on the island) with its colourfully painted houses and narrow cobbled streets.

 

The fiery island of Fogo is no doubt the most volcanically active of all the volcanoes in Cape Verde, especially since its last eruption in 2014.

Make sure you’re seated on the right-hand side of the plane when you’re flying in and you can immediately see that the island is dominated by the archipelago’s highest peak.

It consists of a single volcano, which is why the island is almost circle-shaped and about 25 kilometers (16 mi) in diameter. (Read about the last eruption on our blog).

The peak sits within the spectacular Cha das Caldeiras with its black volcanic moonscape and monstrously contorted lava flows that beg to be climbed. After a hard day’s walk in the crater, relax in colourful and peaceful São Filipe, on the coast.

 

If you’re interested in going off the beaten track, then a visit to Brava should be included in your holiday to Cape Verde.

Often shrouded in clouds, giving it a mysterious aura – the smallest island in the Cape Verde archipelago is also the greenest of them all. There is nothing but wild water between the island and the USA, and it comes as no surprise that in the 19th-century American whaling ships ended up on the island and recruited willing Cape Verdeans who started a new life on the other side of the Atlantic.

Blessed with a unique mix of flora and fauna, it’s regularly referred to as ‘The Island of Flowers’, but walkers too will be in their element. At just 10km across at its widest point, the tiny island has some of the best walks in the islands. Base yourself in Vila Nova Sintra, the island’s biggest town and it’s easy to spend at least or four days on this beautiful island and explore the island on foot.

There are no flights to Brava, because of the strong winds, but a reasonable ferry service connects the island with Fogo and Santiago. The seas around the island can be rough and you’ll need to make sure you add an extra day on Fogo as a buffer.

 

 

 

 

The island of Boavista is the hottest and driest of all the islands in Cape Verde.

It’s just a short 20min flight from Sal, making it another attractive island if you like beaches, but prefer to avoid the crowds.

The island is the most affected by the hot harmattan winds from the Sahara, so it perfect for all kinds of great water sports opportunities near the capital Sal Rei. The interior on the other looks like a dry moon landscape with its desert-like landscapes. The white sandy beaches are stunning and are the third most important destination in the world for nesting loggerhead turtles.

Relax in a boutique coastal hideaway, or one of the larger all-inclusive hotels and explore this desert island by jeep. Humpback whales like Boavista too, as they have their young here and nurse them until they are strong enough to brave the Atlantic.

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