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São Vicente

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Earth : Africa : West Africa : Cape Verde : São Vicente
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Sao Vicente is an island of Cape Verde. Activity on the island is centered around the city of Mindelo, which is the cultural capital of the Cape Verde islands. There are few tourist attractions and hence is not as popular a destination as other islands, however the looming mountains, sandy beaches and little fishing towns give Sao Vicente a certain charm.


The island is largely desertified and what few plants there are are either farmed or at high altitude. All major towns are connected by cobbled roads and are no more than ~30 mins drive from the capitol, Mindelo. Money has been spent on tourist projects, with the aim of attracting people to the island, however several of these sit empty, waiting for travelers to arrive.

Most of the bars, restaurants and hotels on the island are located in Mindelo (see separate page for details).

Get in[edit]

Flights with TACV or Halcyon go from São Pedro airport to Sal and Praia.

A line of taxis wait outside the airport ready to take you to Mindelo for 800$ during the day and 1000$ in the evening. You can also walk the 100m from the airport up to the main road. From there it is probably possible to flag down an aluguer.

Get around[edit]

Buses around the island are limited and start in Mindelo.

Taxis are common around Mindelo and will travel to any town connected to the city by road. Off-road travel costs more, even for short distances. A typical fair to Calhau from Mindelo is around 1500$.

Aluguers are easy to find around the market places in Mindelo and at the main road junctions/roundabouts on the island, and are cheaper than taxis. They can often be flagged down.

Cars and off-road vehicles can be rented from the centre of Mindelo. A small 4x4 can cost ~4000$ a day (~40€). A lot of people who live on the island cannot afford cars and choose to walk between villages on foot. They can often be seen trying to flag down any passing car, and this can be a way of travelling the island for free. If you are driving, hitch-hikers are friendly and grateful for the transport.

See[edit][add listing]

Abandoned farm on top of Monte Verde, looking towards Baia Das Gatas
  • Monte Verde. The highest point on Sao Vicente at 725 metres (2,379 ft). Climb the precarious mountain road (cobbled) by foot or by car and visit the islands only nature reserve. The top of the mountain hosts several communications towers and is the only place on the island you will find a variety of wild green plants. There are some abandoned farm buildings which people apparently use in the wetter months of the year to grow some vegetables on the island. The views of Mindelo and the surrounding area are beautiful and well worth a look. Aluguers and taxis can drop you at the bottom of the track up to the mountain as it is just off the main road between Mindelo and Baia Das Gatas.  edit


  • Sao Pedro. Long sandy beach just behind the airport. Planes flying overhead can be disconcerting, but the beach is often empty. There is the town of Sao Pedro at one end where locals land fish daily and enjoy to play footsal, and a resort at the other. The beach is sheltered from the prevailing winds typical of Sao Vicente. There is a popular surf spot (point break) at the Sao Pedro end of the beach.  edit
  • Praia Grande. Beach around the headland from Calhau. Popular with locals at the weekends. The beach is accessible from the main road over sand. The beach is sandy and has long rolling waves. Visitors should be careful as the sea currents can be strong here.  edit
  • Baia das Gatas. Amazingly sheltered bay ~15 minutes from Mindelo. The shallow, calm waters make the area perfect for bathing. Very popular with locals who often stay the whole weekend, drinking and listening to music. There are a few bars/restaurants close to the beach and plenty of parking space. Aluguers travel to and from here fairly regularly.  edit

The island of Sao Vicente belongs to a group of wind farms known as Barlavento. It lies between the islands of Santo Antao and Santa Lucia. Because the island is an extinct crater, its surface is reminiscent of the lunar landscape. The highest point of the island is Monte Verde, with an altitude of 774 meters.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Mornas. Try and hear some mornas in the bars and restaurants on the islands. There is live music in Mindelo every weekend.  edit
  • Hiking. There are several extent volcanoes on the island that can be explored on foot and hiking maps showing routes can be bought from tourist information kiosks in Mindelo. However, the sun, heat and lack of shade and sights can make walking unbearable on Sao Vicente. Hence, people prefer the more lush Santo Antão and Fogo islands for hiking  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Goa Residencial, [1]. Modern hotel just around the bay from Calhau in Goa. The cobbled road stops in Calhau, and the apartments are only accessible by dirt track. Excellent views of the bay and surrounding volcanoes.  edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • Restaurante Serenata, Calhau. Excellent restaurant out near Calhau.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • Simpatico, Baia das Gatas, [2]. Extension of the bar in Mindelo with extensive outside seating to enjoy the beaches nearby.  edit
  • Hamburg Bar, Calhau.  edit


Get out[edit]

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