Landscapes The Magic of Cape Verde's Boa Vista
The third-largest island in the Cape Verde archipelago, increasing numbers of visitors are marveling at its sand dunes and rocky foothills, unique cuisine, inviting waters and colonial history. With temperatures rarely dipping below the 70s, it´s no surprise the Boa Vista is on many an adventurer´s radar. Here are some highlights that are making Boa Vista an intriguing destination in growing demand.
The architecture of Boa Vista is a window into the days of the bustling salt trade and Cape Verde´s colonial past. The lonely ruins of the old Our Lady of Fatima church still stand, Roman Catholic remnants slowly crumbling in the elements. In the northwest of the island, the Duke of Bragança Fort, built in the early 1800s, is a fine representation of Boa Vista´s military legacy, a defense against piracy and coastal raids. But probably the most emblematic structure remains the Santa Isabel Church in Sal Rei, with its gorgeous white washed walls and blue brickwork.
A famous shipwreck
In 1968, the cargo ship MS Cabo Santa Maria ran aground on its way to Brazil, carrying medicine, expensive china, clothes, food, and even sports cars. Lodged in the shallows off the coast of Boa Vista, there was so much to unload after the wreck that it took residents from Sal Rei almost a year to carry off the contents by hand and on mules. Today, the wreck sits, within plain view of the shore, and enjoys a status as one of the most photographed shipwrecks in the world.
Praia de Chaves Beach
On Praia de Chaves Beach, miles of immense rolling sand dunes meet the sea, creating phenomenal photographic opportunities and a one-of-a-kind beach experience. And for those looking for a quiet relaxing time without the crowds, over 5 miles of sandy space await here, with plenty of undisturbed real estate to lay your beach towel on. Take advantage of the exclusive accommodation at Iberostar´s Club Boa Vista, where you can wake up to the sound of the waves and take a long tranquil stroll on the sand.
With almost every day of the year filled with perfect sea breezes and warm desert air, wind-powered sports are a major draw in Boa Vista. Whether you strap on a kite and ride the coastal waters on a kiteboard, or glide across the ocean as a windsurfer, opportunities abound to feel the thrill of the latest in watersports. Boa Vista Surf Center holds lessons for experts and beginners and rents kiteboards and windsurfing equipment, as well as good old-fashioned surf boards.
Shop like a local
In Sal Rei´s emblematic terra-cotta colored building, the morning market Mercado Municipal is a community institution and a go-to for fresh produce, meats and some artisan crafts. The bustling center is a great locale for souvenir buying and for meeting and mingling with locals. Be on the lookout for Cape Verde´s traditional liquor, called grogue, a fine example of artisan food craft. For the best selection, locals suggest going on Monday, Wednesday or Saturday.
A Quad Tour
What more adventurous way to explore the island than on a 4-wheeler? Four-hour, guided self-drive tours provide a complete journey through the diverse landscapes and also test your quad driving skills, negotiating cobblestone roads, rolling dunes, smooth beach sand and even a bit of rocky terrain. End the rigorous day at a beach bar and take a dip in the crystal-clear ocean with fellow off-road sojourners.
The capital of Boa Vista, Cape Verde’s island gem. Loosely meaning “royal salt” in Portuguese, the town is a living monument to its trading history and industries of the past, which included cotton, lime, cattle and ceramics. Beyond the gorgeous beach of Praia de Estoril, the sea is dotted with fishing boats, and there lies the lslet of Sal Rei, a protected natural monument where the Duke of Bragança Fort stands, a fortification that was once seized by pirates. In Sal Rei, scuba divers find exciting destinations for exploring shipwrecks and exotic local wildlife. And just off the beaches near the islet, the sublime coastal winds are perfect grounds for windsurfers and kite surfers.
The Viana desert
After thousands of years of constant sandy winds from Western Africa, Boa Vista can claim its own 5-kilometer-long Sahara desert. Rolling dunes, slowly crawling across the horizon at the hands of the wind, fill a corner of the northwest of Boa Vista, creating one of the most unique natural phenomena in the world. Take a half-day excursion to the moon-like landscape, and explore first-hand the sugar white sand amongst black volcanic rock and oasis-like vegetation.
A Sailing Excursion
The waters that surround the island of Boa Vista hold a wealth of sea life, and the coasts of the island show a different beauty from the perspective of a mariner. A chartered sailing trip around the island can be a rare opportunity to glimpse dolphins, sea turtles, flying fish, and even Humpback whales. Chill on the comfortable deck of a sailboat with a cold drink and local acoustic music, all the while taking in spectacular panoramas of Boa Vista´s beaches and villages from a new vantage point or arriving to outstanding surrounding islands as Sal (on the image).
SHAWN MOKSVOLD I 16/11/2017
Photography by Cordon Press