Fortunately for the natives of Cabo Verde, tourism to the West African cluster of islands has seen a boom in the past 5 years, obviously improving their economic situation. When we first visited the desert island of Boa Vista in 2014, aside from the number of active volcanoes present, one of the only erected establishment was Riu Touareg. Standing alone at the other end of the island to the airport (which favours a sandcastle), the 5* hotel built their own highway to shuttle tourists from one side of the island to the other, as the only previous option was riding the sand dunes.
Aside from enjoying the luxury hotels and tranquil beaches on Boa Vista, the island has so much more to offer, and here are my top picks, most of which can be organised directly from your hotel:
Cabo Santa Maria shipwreck
Washed up on Praia Esperança on the north coast of Boa Vista in 1968, the Spanish cargo ship carrying goods was a godsend for the Cape Verdean people and has since continued to bring wealth to the island in the form of a popular tourist attraction. Now inhabited by sea life and a familiar place for sea turtles to lay their eggs, a morning spent watching the ferocious waves from the North Atlantic Ocean attempt to budge the wreckage is very entertaining. A blend of Spanish and African history in one!
Curralinho beach (a.k.a Santa Monica beach)
Previously voted one of the top beaches in the world, the cove of Curralinho hosts the calmest waters on the island, and more importantly the best sand. We approached Santa Monica beach as part of another tour, but with the entire island covering only 620km², nothing is ever “too far” and conveniently, the beach shares the north coast with Cabo Santa Maria.
Experience the sand dunesThere’s something thrilling about driving an uncontrolable quad bike down slacks of endless sand dunes, especially ones that have been formed from the Sahara Desert (it’s crazy to think how powerful wind can be)! With multiple stop-offs around the island, we were lucky enough to spot a hammerhead shark with their pups, so who knows what you might see.
Visit the locals in Rabil
An eye-opening opportunity to visit the local people of Rabil gave us a chance to experience untouched Cape Verdean culture. With local bars selling Super Bock drawing in any tourists who cross paths with Rabil and an overcrowded street of stores selling merchandise and Cape Verdean fashion, be sure to take some spare escudo to splash out on memorabilia to take back home with you.