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Island hopping in Cape Verde is on many people’s bucket lists. Cape Verde consists of ten different islands, and each island offers something unique and interesting to experience and see.
The most of the tourism here is distributed to Sal and Boa Vista because of the wonderful sandy beaches and good services, but did you know that in Cape Verde you can also climb to the top of a volcano, hike in green and rugged mountain landscapes, take a dip in nature’s own swimming pools in the middle of banana trees and snorkel with turtles?
SUNSHINE AND WHITE SANDY BEACHES
The holiday islands of Sal and Boa Vista offer sun and white sandy beaches as far as the eye can see. Large travel agencies make trips only to these islands and that is why a large part of Cape Verde’s tourism is also focused on these islands. I myself live with my new husband and our two dogs on Sal, enjoying the sun every day, and having traveled to other islands, I wouldn’t change my island for anything. I still think that when you travel all the way here, it’s definitely worth checking out the other islands as well, because Cape Verde has so much more to experience than these flat sandy terrains!
CULTURE, HISTORY, CARNIVAL VIBES AND TURTLES
Culture, history, city life and a carnival vibes like in Rio in Brazil can be found on the island of Sao Vicente. Sao Vicente is a local, cozy, lively and beautiful island where you can shop and live cheaply, enjoy a wide range of restaurants and the island’s annual carnivals attract people from all over the world. These carnivals are the second most popular right after the Rio carnival. Many people also combine Sao Vicente with the nearby island of Santo Antao or the island of Sao Nicolau, which is a few hours away by ferry, which also combines beautiful green natural landscapes and city life.
On Sao Vicente, you can also snorkel with turtles when you head from the capital Mindelo to the idyllic fishing village of Sao Pedro and jump aboard one of the local wooden fishing boats, which ever happens to be available. A few eager youngsters playing on the beach might also jump in the boat with you to swim among the turtles and keep you company.
GREEN NATURE AND TROPICAL NATURAL SWIMMING POOLS
Santo Antao is the number one favorite of many hikers and is a great counterbalance to Sal’s sandy terrain. Santo Antao can be easily reached with a ferry ride lasting less than an hour from the nearby island of Sao Vicente. Santo Antao is full of traditional atmosphere, history, small mountain villages and a magnificent rugged mountain landscape. Santo Antao is green and its nature is full of hills, rivers and great mountains as far as eye can see. On this island, my absolute recommendation is to take a dip in one of the many tropical natural swimming pools, which can be found on hikes in the middle of fruit trees as well as in local small restaurants!
BLACK LAVA SAND AND VOLCANO VIEWS
Fogo is a ruggedly beautiful, black-sand volcanic island in Cape Verde. Here you can climb to the top of the volcano and run in the black sand along the mountainside, as well as take a day trip to the neighboring small island of Brava by ferry.
THE MAIN ISLAND HAS IT ALL
The main island of Santiago combines a little bit of everything, from beautiful beaches to lively city life, as well as the green mountainous nature on the north side of the island. In the capital, Praia, it is also recommended to take more caution in terms of pocket thieves, because there is more crime here than in the rest of Cape Verde. Despite this, the island offers a lot of beautiful things to experience and see, so you shouldn’t miss this.
HOW TO DO ISLAND HOPPING IN CAPE VERDE?
Island hopping in Cape Verde can be done like any other island hopping, moving from one island to another either by ferry or by plane. Airplanes are a good and significantly faster option, but also really in demand because of this. There are no daily flights, so you should get your own plane tickets well in advance, and since there are no daily flights, I might not recommend island hopping for a vacation of less than two weeks. Air travel is also a more expensive option, which is why a large number of people opt for the ferry. Flights cost between €80-€150 per person depending on the destination, while the ferry costs between €8-€30 per person depending on the destination.
CHECK OUT MORE INFO ABOUT THE FLIGHTS HERE: BESTFLY CABO VERDE
Ferry trips are a cheap and good option. Ferry trips are also long-lasting and in some places a really tough experience, because the sea can get rough and this can result in a rocking inferno of several hours, even for those who do not generally suffer from motion sickness.
Our own ferry ride from Sao Vicente back to Sal (with a short stop in between at Sao Nicolau) took a total of closer to ten hours and we both took no fewer than three nausea meds instead of the recommended dose of one. I think we were the only ones on the whole ferry who didn’t vomit their whole souls out during the whole ferry ride. A woman also told in the port of Sal that she constantly felt so sick and miserable that she couldn’t even go to the bathroom to do her business, but instead urinated under herself without any other option. She still had another trip ahead of her to Santiago, so we really felt bad for her.
On the other hand, the ferry ride from Sao Vicente to Santo Antao only takes less than an hour and is very comfortable and peaceful, and during this trip we relaxed and sipped our morning coffee in the sun on the deck of the ship. The ferries are also in good condition and also serve small food and drinks along the way.
CHECK OUT THE FERRIES AND GET YOUR TICKETS HERE: CV INTERILHAS
Trips can also be purchased from all local travel agencies here on the islands, if tickets are still available. However, small travel agency fees may apply to these prices.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR ISLAND HOPPING IN CAPE VERDE?
You should prepare for island hopping with an open mind and a patient attitude, because in Cape Verde everything is slow and not everything always runs so smoothly. You should also reserve a little extra time in the travel calendar for changes, because you never know if your ferry trip will be delayed or moved, or the flight will be canceled and you will have to find an alternative way of travel. So don’t make your schedule too tight! Also reserve a little extra in your travel fund specifically for these possible unfortunate changes, so you can avoid any troublesome situations.
When traveling between islands, you don’t need to do anything else special or do any paperwork, because all the islands are within the same country. A valid passport and your own travel tickets are therefore sufficient.
You should think carefully about your luggage and clothing based on your own island destination, because for example for Sal you should reserve a lot of summer clothes, as for Santo Antao you need more equipment suitable for hiking and slightly cooler moments.
CHECK OUT THE BEST ACTIVITIES AND BOOK THE BEST GUIDED TOURS FOR YOUR ISLAND HOPPING TRIP IN CAPE VERDE:
WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO ISLAND HOPPING IN CAPE VERDE? HAVE YOU ALREADY HOPPED ISLANDS HERE? SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS, EXPERIENCES AND QUESTIONS BELOW IN COMMENTS! 🙂
<3: Tiina Johanna
*Photos: Tiina Johanna, blogger
*Photo editing: Loov.fi “Tropical blues” presets – check it out!
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If you are looking for something different and exotic, local and culturally satisfying on your Cape Verde vacation, then São Vicente is your choice. In São Vicente, you are at the heart of Cape Verde’s culture and local vibes, as its capital, Mindelo, offers cafes, restaurants, bars and nightclubs for every taste, as well as a genuine buzz of history, diverse cultural offerings, colorful buildings and the most popular carnivals and festivals in the Cape Verde islands. The world-famous singer Cesária Èvora is also from São Vicente.
THE CULTURE CAPITAL OF CAPE VERDE
São Vicente, or as the locals say Soncent, is one of the ten islands of Cape Verde and its capital, Mindelo, is called the cultural capital of the Cape Verde Islands. São Vicente is not full of tourists, as tourism is mainly concentrated in Sal and Boa Vista. Tourists in São Vicente are mostly adventurous backpackers and island hoppers and those who want to get to the heart of the local way of life.
Mindelo has in its time been an important port city and a stopover for merchant ships. Here the sailors rested in the bars drinking and fooling around in the brothels, until they continued their journey again with the storages full towards their destination. As times developed, the need for services decreased and a large part of the locals left for food and work to other countries, and today only about one third of Cape Verdeans live in Cape Verde. The largest community of Cape Verdeans can currently be found in Boston, the United States, and Portugal, Belgium, Holland and Germany also contain several Cape Verdeans. When I lived in Portugal for a year, most of the people I met happened to be either from Cape Verde or Brazil.
We traveled to São Vicente in October 2022, as my boyfriend is from the island originally. We took a local small plane from Sal and after about an hour we landed in the mountainous landscape of São Vicente, accompanied by cloudy weathers. The sun was totally left behind. To pick us up was my boyfriend’s brother, and in addition to getting to know the island, there was a lot of family bonding, because my boyfriend hadn’t visited his hometown in several years.
We conveniently stayed in a well-equipped, nice apartment near the city center booked through Booking.com, and the price was really not too high. São Vicente is cheaper compared to Sal, and you can find a variety of accommodations from hotels to apartments at a nice price level.
BEACH, FOOD & DRINKS
We spent time with relatives and we did a lot of eating in different restaurants and a also little bit of shopping. I was taken on a tour around the city and to see all the sceneries and sights, and I even got to the beautiful beach of Praia de Laginha to refresh a bit during the day.
Those looking for good food and drink should definitely head to the local market hall Mercado Municipal, where you can find both fresh fruit and nice atmospheric lunch restaurants. I recommend tasting the local dishes, Cachupa and Feijoada.
For an evening out, you can find excellent bars all around Mindelo, but my favorites are definitely the shot bar Pub Art on the central square Praca Nova, and Metalo, which serves good food and tasty cocktails, and of course the beach restaurant Caravela. The night clubbers can of course head to the Crystal nightclub, or Akon, a teepee-style nightclub in the middle of the harbor, or my favorite, the beautiful Martini Sunset, built on the mountainside a short taxi ride away, where you can enjoy not only cocktails, but also the infinity pool and wonderful views towards Mindelo at night and of course the open sea.
São Pedro and the turtles
A visit to São Vicente should definitely include a moment in the fishing village of São Pedro, where you can snorkel with turtles in the turquoise sea water on a local wooden boat. This is definitely the best must-do activity in São Vicente, so grab your own trip right now!
CHECK OUT ALL THE BEST ACTIVITIES IN São Vicente:
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HAVE YOU TRAVELLED THROUGH DIFFERENT ISLANDS ON CAPE VERDE AND HAVE YOU VISITED SAO VICENTE? THE BEST TIPS FOR ISLAND HOPPING IN CAPE VERDE COMING SOON! 🙂
<3: Tiina Johanna
*Photos: Tiina Johanna, blogger
*Photo editing: Loov.fi “Tropical blues” presets – check it out!