My itinerary and travel tips to the islands of Santiago and Maio Cape Verde.
Highs & Lows
The landscapes and the kindness of the cape verdeans
Cape Verde is an African archipelago which has ten islands: Santo Antao, Sao Vicente, Sao Nicolau, Santa Luzia, Sal, Boa Vista, Santiago, Maio, Fogo and Brava. The official language is Portuguese (colonized until 1975) but most of the population speaks a Cape Verdean Creole.
We decided for our Cape Verde vacation, to do only two islands because we had only two weeks on the spot (very short). We chose the island of Santiago (arrival and departure with Praia airport) and a small island with very little tourism, Maio, our favorite. We went to Cape Verde to discover the African culture, the colorful landscapes and the paradisiacal beaches. We spent one week on each island. The island of Santiago is the most famous and the biggest of the islands: lively, colorful and rich of history, especially with the slave trade.
The island of Maio is much smaller, much less touristic and it is this island that will remain engraved in our memories.
Once we arrived at the airport of Praia, we went directly to the north of the island of Santiago, to Tarrafal.
We loved this small fishing town with its heavenly beaches. Clear water, white sand, a real paradise to relax!
The scenery is total, calm, and far from the crowds...the beaches are empty and only fishermen's boats are visible. We were able to do sports early in the morning (before the heat); we went to meet the locals: simple and warm people, happy children despite the poverty, and music in every house. We had a crush on our host, Zeza, who prepared incredible dishes from morning to evening, always with a smile! I never got tired of the chicken and rice and their traditional Cape Verdean dish: cachupa, made with corn and black beans. In this region of fishermen, there is also a lot of fish during the meals, caught locally and freshly!
We visited the sad concentration camp of Chao Bom: a terrible camp of imprisonment for political opponents from Angola, Mozambique, and Cape Verde! A difficult visit but essential to understand the history of the country.
Tarrafal is a quiet, colorful and traditional city with a moving history.
We spent a week on the island of Maio, one of the smallest islands of Cape Verde. We chose this island because it is not at all touristy unlike the others and we wanted to have a total change of scenery. It is an island with white sand of 274 km with only about 8000 people living there. No hotel complex, no tourist. happiness !
Attention, to go there, only one plane per week passes to join the main island.It is possible to take a commercial boat but its schedules and departure days are not really defined.
We rented a 4x4 to be able to make the complete tour of the island. We met warm and welcoming locals. The main activity of the island is the collection of stones for the constructions. Fishing on white sandy beaches all around the island.
The surprise of the week was the hatching of the turtles while we were not in the right season, so we were able to see thousands of baby turtles ! A magical moment that we will never forget.
Q & A
What would you have changed?more time on site to visit another island
Restaurant recommendations?do not eat in tourist places but rather in hidden places or in markets
Tips you would give a friend?Go to non-touristy places to make the most of the beautiful beaches
Packing tips?a backpack, sneakers and a swimsuit
Transportation Tips?look in advance at the schedules and departures for the island of Maio, even if it is not 100% reliable
Any surprises?Very poor country ! It's hard to see children without food
Booking details?Airbnb direct