Boa Vista – The Cosy Island
The easternmost and third-largest island of Cape Verde definitely does justice to its name – Boa Vista: beautiful view. While mass tourism has already reached the smaller neighbouring island of Sal, life on Boa Vista is a bit more authentic. However, the international airport was opened in 2007, and Italian and Spanish investors have discovered the island and are building hotels. People familiar with Cape Verde assume that Boa Vista will be serious competition for the island of Sal with regard to tourism in a few years. The landscape here is also characterised by deserts of sand and scree. Yet, there are also a few low mountain ranges – and, of course, many beaches (55 kilometres), much sun, the sea and excellent conditions for water athletes.
The capital of the island of Boa Vista, Sal Rei, looks quite cosy and almost sleepy, even though more than half of the island’s 12,000 inhabitants live here. On the main plaza, the Praça de Santa Isabel with its many colourful flowers and pavilions, you can admire goods sold by the African traders. Colourful batiks and carved wood figures, as well as fruit and vegetables, are sold here. Sal Rei also has a travel agency, a health centre, a bank and a post office.
The Igreja da Santa Isabel, which stands directly next to Praça de Santa Isabel, was built in the colonial style and decorated by a Baroque facade in shades of sand and light blue.
Along the ocean, on the Avenida dos Pescadores, you can tour the old harbour quay and a boatyard. Directly across from it, you can see the little island of Ilheu de Sal Rei in the open sea. Further to the north, Avenida dos Pescadores is lined with trees and dreamy colourful little houses in every possible colour stand at the edge of the street.
The salines, in which the royal salt (Sal Rei) of best quality was once produced, are located to the northeast of the city. If you drive a bit further, you will recognise the ruins of the Nossa Senhora de Fátima chapel above the rocky coast.
The bays of Sal Rei are perfect for swimming because they are protected against the wind by the island of Ilheu de Sal Rei, which is located offshore from it. We highly recommend the kilometre-long sandy beach of Praia do Estoril to the south of the town. In addition, the Praia de Carlota and the Praia da Chave are in the south and the Praia de Cabral is in the north.
In Rabil in the southwest of the island, you can visit a little pottery workshop and the São Roque church. Otherwise, the village makes a rather deserted impression. In the direction of Estância de Baixo, a small oasis with coconut and date palms is located in the valley.
The oldest settlement of Boa Vista, which was built about 500 years ago, is also in the southwest: Povoação Velha. The little plaza Praceta de Santo António with its flowers and benches to rest on is at the heart of the town. The playful little Igreja Nossa Senhora da Conceição church, which was built in 1828, is on the outskirts of town. Its interior is decorated with a colourfully painted chancel that has numerous little images of saints.
The Praia de Santa Monica in the south of Boa Vista is considered the most beautiful beach of Cape Verde. You can also see Maio and São Nicolau from the Rocha Estância (354 metres) observation point.
The east of the island is so solitary and deserted that you won’t see anyone at all in some areas of it. The Fundo Figueiras district in the hamlet of Norte has a pretty little church, Igreja São João Baptista, with white and pastel facades. The little houses are very colourful.
The lonely beaches in this part of the island are more suited for long, quiet walks than swimming. Unfortunately, the number of robberies on the island has increased together with the rapid development of tourism. You should never take long walks on secluded beaches by yourself. It’s always better to go in a group.
As on Maio and Sal, you can observe sea turtles laying their eggs on the beaches. Many species are already threatened by extinction, so the Turtle Foundation has set the goal of protecting these valuable animals from being slaughtered despite the ban and defending their nest of eggs against human robbers. They have also been strongly supported for some years now by the government institutions (INDP) of Cape Verde. This has also resulted in growing success for their efforts on behalf of these increasingly rare sea creatures. Yet, there is still much to do in order to also anchor the need to protect the sea turtles in the minds of the residents. Public awareness programmes are also being offered in this respect.