If you are looking for the perfect sandy beach, warm sea water en hardly any souls around you, Boa Vista is the place for you. This large empty neighbouring island to Sal is quietly becoming Cape Verde’s most popular tourist destination, with beaches that have been named Africa’s best. The island itself appears wildly romantic to the visitor, with a desert like scenery and high sandy dunes. It is dotted with palm trees and oases and uniquely in this dry country, Boa Vista boasts a real water filled stream or ribeira.
Boa Vista has it all for a lazy holiday. An amazingly laidback lifestyle that inspires you to slip on your flip flops right away upon leaving your plane and stroll through the warm surf in any direction from island’s capital Sal Rei. A picturesque and sleepy fishermen’s town once, the place is now growing into a major tourist resort, while maintaining it’s tranquillity.
Italian investors started developing tourism on the island over a decade ago and several international groups have now followed and opened up resorts. Many more large hotels are still in the pipeline or under construction. But don’t worry, there is still plenty of space. By now the largest group of tourists are British. The expansion of the small airport at Rabil some years ago has already been overtaken by events. Another expansion is needed for this still intimate airport to cater to the growing number of charter and regular flights to the island. Passengers now disembark all day from Germany, Spain, Portugal, UK, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands. TACV Cape Verde Airlines has just added regular weekly flights from the island to both Lisbon and Porto. There are daily domestic flights to Sal Island and Cape Verde’s capital Praia.
This island though caters mainly to group tourism and all inclusive package holidays. Infrastructure for the independent traveller is not as freely available as on Sal Island. But it is well worth it to explore the island by yourself. One of the most interesting places to stay is the Guesthouse Orquideia, run by a Belgian-Capeverdean couple. This intimate place feels like a Brazilian-style pousada and offers one of the island’s nicest gardens, with flowers, coconut trees, oranges, lime, parrots and turtles. The guesthouses is conveniently and quietly located on Estoril beach on the south side of Sal Rei town.
Sal Rei itself is an interesting place where old fishermen cottages stand side by side with more modern projects. In town there are some good options for dinner. There are several large eateries on the waterfront, like the Serenata (with live music). One of best appears to be the Porton de nos Ilha, a seafood restaurant run by a sympathetic Portuguese family on the roof of a large building. You will not be bored by the fabulous views over the sea and beaches.
Strolling south from the town on Estoril Beach with its calm waters (protected from the elements by the Islet of Sal Rei) you will meet a couple of beach clubs, like the Boa Vista Social Club (offering a great buffet lunch on Sunday’s), the Tortuga (Italian spoken here) and Aloisius. After climbing some small dunes, some of Africa’s finest beaches stretch out in front of you: Carlota Beach and Chaves Beach. North of the town lies Cabral Beach, with its almost fully developed waterfront. But Cabral is still a huge and virtually empty beach. But this island, with its year-round hot weather, has an incredible number of unbelievably nice and quiet beaches!
Boa Vista also offers great options for touring around in 4×4 vehicles and this is an absolute must. You can visit the scenic interior of the island as well as the southern beaches, like Santa Monica, where new developments are springing to life and another range of fine beaches await the visitor.