Boa Vista: 9 must-see attractions
Boa Vista, meaning "beautiful view" in Portugese, is first and foremost renowned for the quality of its beaches, its sunny climate, and its sand dunes. With nearly all resorts located on the Praia de Chaves, near the airport, the place attracts holidaymakers looking for rest, relaxation and vitamin D. But relaxation is not the only motivation for a trip to Boa Vista. The island is home to some of the most beautiful natural sites, including Santa Monica Beach, an 18 km long sandy beach which is known as the most beautiful beach on the island. In the south, head for some of the small and typically Cape Verdean villages, such as Povoaçao Velha, the oldest village on the island, or the Varandinha caves, an ideal spot for photography enthusiasts. To the north, one of the seven wonders of Cape Verde awaits you: the Viana desert. A mini Sahara, where the dazzling white sand dunes are perfect for a crazy quad ride. Every place on the island offers the opportunity to discover not only an array of natural sites but also the cultural heritage of the island; its history, people, gastronomy, and famous national motto, which reflects the island’s well-known mindset: NO STRESS!
Places to visit in Boa Vista
Praia de Chaves
On the west coast of the island, Praia de Chaves is one of Boa Vista’s most beautiful beaches. About 5 km long, it is lined with beautiful sand dunes. Although still relatively unspoilt in the southern part, there are some resorts further north. While this large stretch of sand is perfect for sunbathing, the red flag is often displayed because of the strong currents which make swimming dangerous. However, it’s an ideal spot for water sport enthusiasts, especially fans of kitesurfing and windsurfing. In the evening, you can enjoy the sunset. The colours of the sky are beautiful! Walking northwards along the Praia de Chavez beach, you arrive in Sal Rei, the capital of the island. Along the way you’ll come across a large red brick chimney, a remnant of an old ceramic factory and now a symbolic landmark on Boa Vista.
Beach | Sea | Water sports
Fundo de Figueiras
If you decide to explore the eastern part of Boa Vista, a stop in the village of Fundo de Figueiras is a must. It’s one of the most beautiful villages on the island. Strolling along the flowery alleys, lined with colourful houses, is just delightful. The atmosphere is like everywhere else on the island: No stress! But what makes this village extra special is its gastronomic know-how. It’s famous for its goat cheese, the Queije, which is found everywhere in Cape Verde!
Nice village | Heritage | Gastronomy
To the north-west lies the capital of Boa Vista, Sal Rei, whose name comes from the former exploitation of "royal" salt from the island’s salt marshes. While the city is not very big, it deserves a day trip to soak up the local culture, the "no stress" atmosphere, and to meet the locals. The island’s central square is home to various souvenir shops, but also the catholic church and the post office. There’s no need to follow a particular route. Stroll along the cobblestone streets and admire the pastel-coloured houses and colonial architecture. Also make sure you visit the small harbour and fish market in the mornings. Here, the men go fishing while the women sell freshly caught catch. Easily accessible by road, it’s also possible to walk to Sal Rei along the Praia de Chaves.
Nice village | Heritage | Architecture | Market
Cabo Santa Maria
In the north of the island, on Atalanta beach, is one of Boa Vista’s curiosities: a mysterious wreck of a Spanish freighter, stranded on the Cape Verdean coast on 1st September 1968. The boat, which left from Spain, was crossing the Atlantic to Brazil, but unfortunately never made it. While the wreck is now just an old rusty relic beaten by the waves, you can’t help but feel that a ghostly presence has been haunting the beach for decades…
Nature | Beach | Heritage
South-west of Boa Vista, just a few miles from Santa Monica Beach, is the oldest village on the island, Povoaçao Velha. It certainly deserves a detour, if only to stroll around the cobbled streets littered with traditional restaurants and souvenir shops, whose storefronts are stamped with the national motto: No stress. And here there is no stress! Take the time to walk around, say hello to the locals and look around the souvenir shops ... you can also visit the village primary school, where the teachers and children in uniform will greet you with their beautiful smiles.
To finish the tour of the village, climb the hill leading to the blue and white chapel overlooking the houses. From here you can enjoy a beautiful view of the village’s colourful houses.
Nice village | Viewpoint | Heritage
Praia de Santa Monica
Located in the southern part of Boa Vista, Santa Monica Beach (Praia in Portuguese) is known as the most beautiful beach on the island. With its 18 km of white sand bordering turquoise blue waters, one can only marvel at the beauty of the place. Hidden behind sand dunes, the beach is simply huge, and the icing on the cake is that it remains relatively unspoilt. It’s not difficult to find yourself alone on this large stretch of sand. Lovers of relaxation will certainly not find a better place to put out their towels and catch some rays, although be careful you don’t burn!
Nature | Beach
As an extension of Santa Monica Beach, Varandinha Beach, in the south-west of the island, is home to beautiful natural caves and rugged rocks. Walking along the beach, one enters what looks like a cave sheltered from the wind. Here, all kinds of stories come to the fore: imagine a crew coming here to cast anchor on the Boa Vista coast, warming themselves around a glowing fire ... If you are equipped with good shoes, why not climb the cliffs and admire the sea view and the long sandy beach. Utterly breathtaking!
Nature | Beach | Nature wonders | Viewpoint
Just behind the airport is the small village of Rabil. Wherever you go in Boa Vista, Rabil is a point of passage, a crossroads for all the island’s roads. While there may not be much to do, it is worth stopping to see the craft pottery factory. You can see the workshop where handmade pottery is made and then visit the shop where you can find some typical souvenirs to take back home.
Craftmanship | Heritage
In the morning, before the heat of the day becomes overwhelming, take a trip to discover one of the seven natural wonders of Cape Verde: the Viana desert. From Sal Rei, the capital, you need to travel northwards. The path goes through the village of Rabil, as well as along rocky and dusty outcrops, before the towering white silhouettes of the Viana dunes come into view.
Once you arrive at the entrance to the desert, you will see the magnificent landscapes stretching out in front of you: hot, dazzling sand dunes shaped over the years by the winds coming from the African continent, and extending as far as the eye can see. Nicknamed "the crumb of the Sahara" by locals, it almost feels like you are lost in the heart of a vast desert, despite the fact that it is actually relatively small: only 1km wide and 5 km long.
Nature | Natural wonders
Why choose Boa Vista as your next holiday destination? First and foremost, for its weather conditions and all-year-round hot and dry climate. In need of some winter sun? The island is ideal for finding some sun without having to embark on a long flight (5 to 6 hours from France). And for lazy days, there is clearly no better place to be: I don’t think I have ever seen such large beaches, and to my surprise, they are still quite unspoilt in places. Fine white sand as far as the eye can see, with a backdrop of beautiful sand dunes and lapping turquoise waters. The only downside is the waves. Those who like to swim in the sea may be a little disappointed as the red flag is often on display. On the other hand, surf and other water sports enthusiasts will be in their element. But it would be a shame to only spend time on the beaches. What makes Cape Verde so rich is, above all, its historical past and culture, which can be discovered by mingling with the local population. For this, you need to go to the small Cape Verdean villages, and spend at least one day in Sal Rei, the capital. My favourite thing about this trip: the Viana desert, beautiful, and relatively unknown. And while this desert is relatively tiny, you feel like you’re getting lost in the middle of the Saharan dunes. A natural wonder that must feature near the top of your itinerary!