What to do in Cape Verde? 8 activity ideas

Julia, Travel journalist
Julia, Travel journalist

There are plenty of activities on Boa Vista, and there is something for everyone: I strongly recommend experiencing the famous quad ride to discover the island’s most incredible site: the Viana desert. Accompanied by an experienced guide, thrill seekers will crisscross the roads of the island. For those looking for a little more comfort, opt for a ride in a pick-up trip, an ideal alternative for visiting the four corners of the island and admiring its splendid landscapes. Boa Vista is also famous for its underwater wildlife. At certain times of the year, it’s possible to experience two marvellous phenomena: Caretta turtles laying their eggs on the beaches and the majestic ballet of humpback whales out at sea. To recover from these emotional experiences, what better than to enjoy a delicious dish of lobster in one of Sal Rei’s restaurants. There are so many things to do that a visit to Boa Vista will leave you with everlasting memories.

  • Quad biking
    Quad in the sand dunes

    Quad biking

    One of the must-do activities in Boa Vista is, of course, quad biking. The climate and island’s terrain make it perfect for these small motorised cars, which will make easy work of the Viana desert’s sand dunes and the long beach of Santa Monica. Many of the island’s hotel providers and companies in Sal Rei offer half-day quad experiences, so it’s not difficult to book the activity before leaving, or on the spot.
    For a quad outing, it's up to you: most visitors book guides who know the island like the back of their hand. The more adventurous can rent a quad by the day, and will be able to travel around the island independently.

  • Pick-up tours
    Pick-up in Boa Vista

    Pick-up tours

    If quad biking really isn’t your cup of tea, you can opt for a pick-up tour, more comfortable and equally as good for discovering the island’s sand dunes. Sitting in the back, hair blowing in the wind, you can admire the arid beauty of the desert, and imagine you’re in the Paris-Dakar rally! Fed up with the desert? Ask your guide to drive along the long beach of Santa Monica and make a stop at Povoaçao Velha, the oldest village on the island; or explore the abandoned villages in the eastern part of the island. A pick-up tour experience is your best bet for discovering all Boa Vista has to offer.

  • Coastal walks
    Walk along the beach

    Coastal walks

    While Boa Vista may not be the first-choice island for hiking (the islands of Santo Antao, Sao Vicente, and Fogo, with the ascent of its volcano, are better suited), there are still some beautiful sandy walks between dunes and beaches. From Sal Rei, it takes about 2 hours to walk along the beautiful 5km-long Chaves beach. Seasoned hikers can choose to explore the island on foot. Routes dotted with bivouacs and stops at the locals, the Viana desert in the North, or the rocky main stretches at the centre of the island which lead to the beautiful unspoilt beach of Santa Monica.

  • Indulge in the joys of water sports

    Indulge in the joys of water sports

    While Boa Vista boasts some of the most beautiful sandy beaches in the country, it’s also an ideal destination for various water sports. Due to the almost constant wind, the impressive rolling waves make it a great playground for surfers. Along the Praia de Chaves beach, on the west coast, the only difficulty is choosing from the host of providers offering kitesurfing and windsurfing experiences. Back in Sal Rei, on Estoril beach, you can go snorkelling to admire the reefs, or even try stand-up paddle.

  • Turtle-watching
    Turtle Conservation Camp of Ervatão


    If you are planning a stay in Cape Verde, and more specifically on Boa Vista Island, be mindful when choosing you travel period: if you come between June and October, you may have the opportunity to observe sea turtles, who come ashore to lay their eggs on the Cape Verdean beaches. A rare and privileged night time experience, and one that will leave you with unforgettable memories. Cape Verde is, indeed, the third most important world nesting site for Caretta-Caretta sea turtles (after Oman and Florida). The young hatch after three months. For the few lucky ones who will reach adulthood, they will return to nest on these same beaches 20 years later. One of nature’s little miracles.

  • Whale-watching
    Whales off the coasts


    In addition to turtles, another mammal species also comes to swim off the coast of Boa Vista: humpback whales. Between March and May, they arrive to give birth and feed. There are many guided trips in motor boats or catamarans which allow you to marvel at these wonderful creatures During these trips, whale experts are on hand to explain the intricate lives of these whales and the importance of preserving their environment. But the best show is obviously in the water when their fins appear at the ocean’s surface. Rubbing shoulders with these giants of the sea will leave you with unforgettable memories and stars in your eyes!

  • Discover the local gastronomy
    Cachupa, traditional dish

    Discover the local gastronomy

    Cape Verdean gastronomy is a reflection of its history and its population: mixed race. A combination of European and African influences, the local cuisine is tasty and full of flavour. Among the must-try specialties is cachupa, a stew cooked with pork, vegetables, beans and corn. A Cape Verdean delight often enjoyed at breakfast time! Seafood is another must and can be enjoyed in the island’s restaurants. The national celebrity: the lobster! And to help it all go down, don’t forget to try grogue, the country’s specialty rum. Be careful and consume in moderation!

  • School visits
    A school in Povoacao Velha

    School visits

    In Boa Vista, it is possible to combine beach holidays and humanitarian efforts. In most of the island’s villages, such as Povoaçao Velha or Sal Rei, it’s possible to visit the island’s primary schools and distribute notebooks, markers, pens, and other school materials. The children will thank you with their beautiful smiles! Some guides on the island also offer visits to the Sal Rei slum, where most of the population lives in unsanitary conditions. All donations, such as soap, shower gel, and other hygiene products, are gratefully received! It’s best to enquire once you arrive.