On Saturday 9th September 2017 Hamish and I left Gatwick airport to visit Boa Vista for a week. We had both decided that we needed a break, so a relaxing holiday with sun, sea and sand was in order! We had never booked an all-inclusive package or done so little research about a place before. If you’ve never head of Boa Vista it is the third largest island in the Cape Verde archipelago, which sits in the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Senegal. The Cape Verdean Islands are very much developing countries and are set to become the new Caribbean in a few years time. So here are a few postcards from Boa Vista, alongside a little bit of information about the island.
Boa Vista was once a Portuguese island and still to this day has good ties with the country. It used to be an important stop over in the slave trade but made its fame and fortune selling salt. Fun fact – the direct translation of the capital Sal Rei is actually Salt King. Boa Vista no longer produces salt due to the trouble is was causing with flooding and land movement. As I mentioned before, it’s very much a developing country. Many of the villages now have water and electricity, but the roads are unfinished and there’s a long way to go with education on a lot of topics, especially recycling! It is very much a tourist island, though. There were two resorts when we visited with a lot more in the works. I’m hoping that with the increase in tourism the island will still be able to keep its identity and culture.
If you’re heading to any of the Cape Verde islands, you’ll be embarking upon a relaxing holiday. Boa Vista’s unofficial motto is actually ‘no stress’. There’s not an awful lot there, which is perfectly fine if you’re expecting it. We spent days swimming in the pool, reading and wandering on the beach. So instead of my usual daily breakdown of my postcards blogs, I thought I’d share the highlights from the days we were actually doing things!
A view from the ocean
Our first activity was a luxury catamaran cruise around the island. There’s just something so calming and magical about being at sea. We got to see the island from a different perspective and Hamish was able to swim in a calm inlet of the sea. (Normally you can’t get near the water as its way too rough!) We cruised around the capital and could see the colourful houses and fishing boats close to the shore. When we were near the harbour we were surrounded by old boats, some were rusting away in the salty ocean and others we’re proudly being used.
The capital has cobbled streets, colourful houses and a huge harbour. It’s quite possibly the only relaxing city that I’ve been to! It’s small enough so that you can wander around it in a few hours. I loved the sea views peeking out from the sides of the pastel houses. We stopped by a boat yard, where fishing boats were being built and repaired. We also visited a wash-house and learnt that washing machines are a new thing on the island! The fish and fruit markets were interesting experiences. Whilst it was lovely to see the locals going about their daily business, the sheer amount of flies on everything was rather disconcerting.
Whilst in Sal Rei we dropped by Migrante Guest House to sample some local food and drink. The hibiscus flower iced tea was so refreshing, the coffee from Fogo Island was delicious and the grog was interesting! Grog is their local rum, it’s got one hell of a kick and a bit of a burn not too dissimilar to whisky! One of Migrante’s projects is a little shop across the road from their guest house. It only stocked produce created on the Cape Verde islands. The shop was like stepping back in time. It was a wonderful way of trying to keep their heritage and history alive.
Santa Maria Beach
This one of the longest, most famous beaches on the island thanks to the turtles and ship wrecks. The Cape Verdean Islands are home to the third largest colony of leatherback turtles in the world. So conservation of them on the island is high priory. So much so that parts of beaches were not accessible to tourists, or those quad biking. There were even volunteers camping on the beach during hatching season to protect them too.
The shipwreck of the Santa Maria was surprisingly small. The harsh current has had destroyed parts of the ship that ran aground in 1968. In fact, in ten years or so it might not even be there. Locals on the island used to run into the hills on coast and coax ships in using torches. They would then run aground, lose their cargo and the villagers would be in profit. When the insurance companies came knocking they would sell any remaining goods back to them for a profit. How resourceful of them!
You might have noticed the piles of rocks on the beaches. Hamish and I thought that they were something that the locals did. It turns out German tourists think it’s lucky to wish upon a pile of stones, the number high is how many children you will have! Bizzare, yet interesting!
There are so many small villages on Boa Vista. We visited quite a few on a couple of our tours. (I’m terrible at remembering names so I have no idea where they were.) One village only had 150 people living there! One of the things that was overwhelming when visiting the village was the sense of community. Families would look after each other, shop for each other and look after each others children. It was all rather heart warming.
I guess my Boa Vistan adventure was a mixed bag! It wasn’t as good as Amsterdam or Croatia but I did have a really relaxing time. I soaked up a bit of culture and had some much-needed rest. If I’m being completely honest our resort let the holiday down. I didn’t think it was five stars and I struggled to eat because of my dietary requirements. The staff however were fabulous and the rooms perfectly comfortable. You couldn’t fault the view either. Both Hamish and I came to the conclusion that the resort life wasn’t for us. Having never experienced it before we wouldn’t have known beforehand.
Hopefully my postcards from Boa Vista have shown you how beautiful and stress free this little island is! If you’re planning on going, here a 5 things to do!
Have you been before?