Boa Vista Island
Boa Vista – The “Sahara in the Atlantic”
Overview of the island
620 km² (Third largest island in Cape Verde)
Sal Rei (Approx. 10,000 inhabitants)
Monte Estancia, 387 m
The easternmost and the third largest island of Cape Verde lives up to its name – Boa Vista: Beautiful View. On its smaller neighbouring island Sal, mass tourism has already taken hold, whereas Boavista is only on its way there – where things are even more unspoilt. In 2007, the international airport was opened, big hotel chains like Riu and Iberostar have already built some hotels. Despite this, there are still many dreamlike beaches that are often completely deserted. The “Sahara in the Atlantic”, as Boa Vista is also called, has beaches with a total length of 55 km. Besides that, the landscape is characterised by sand and scree desert, but there are also some (low) mountain ranges.
There is an almost sleepy, cosy feel to the island’s capital Sal Rei, in spite of the fact that more than half of the island’s 20,000 inhabitants live here. With its colourful flowers and pavilions, the main square, Praça de Santa Isabel, is the centre of this friendly town. African traders offer their wares, the Esplanada Silves invites you to take a break with a cool drink. Some old merchants’ houses line the square, and to the north is the Catholic Church of Santa Isabel, a simple but pretty building with a baroque façade.
There is a view of the small offshore island of Ilheu de Sal Rei from the waterfront promenade Avenida dos Pescadores. You can see the old harbour quay and also visit a small boatyard.
In the south, the first beautiful beaches border on the main town. You can enjoy 10 km of picture-book atmosphere by taking a walk along the beach and swimming in the sea. There is also a beautiful beach north of Sal Rei called Praia de Cabral, but it is smaller.
Rabil is the second largest town on the desert island and is located southwest of Sal Rei. It used to be the capital and offers a great view of the oases of the Rabil valley with its coconut and date palms. In the town itself is the oldest church on the island called São Roque and a pottery. There is another highlight not far away to the east of Sal Rei and Rabil: the Viana Desert (Deserto Viana). Here, one high sand dune follows the next and one has the feeling of being in the middle of the Sahara.
In the southwest of Boavista lies Povoação Velha, the first settlement on the island, which was founded over 500 years ago. With its pastel-coloured houses, the village is worth a visit even without any sights worth mentioning. From the viewpoint Rocha Estância (354 m) you have a good view of the island and as far as São Nicolau. However, Povoação Velha is primarily a transit station on the way to the dream beaches of Santa Monica and Varandinha.
Located in the east of Boa Vista is Norte, an amalgamation of three small villages. If you still want to experience the original Cape Verde, this is the place to be, because here the houses still look like they did 20 or 30 years ago. The hustle and bustle of mass tourism is far away.
Such as on Maio and Sal, sea turtles lay their eggs on the beaches and they can be observed doing so. Since many species are already threatened with extinction, the organisation “Turtle Foundation” has set itself the goal of protecting these animals from being slaughtered despite the ban. For several years now, they have also been actively supported by the Cape Verdean government institutions (INDP). Meanwhile, their efforts to save these rare sea creatures are proving increasingly successful. However, there is still a lot to do.