by Alice Mariscotti-Wyatt
For those unfamiliar with the Portuguese language, allow me to translate; “Boa Vista” means “good view”. Alright, you probably could have worked it out for yourself.
And for those unfamiliar with where and what Boa Vista is, allow me to introduce you to the most eastern of the Cape Verde islands. This small, volcanic island nation is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, 400-odd miles west of Senegal. Sometimes described as the Sahara in miniature, it certainly does have the same dry climate and year-round warmth.
I’m sure you’ll not be surprised to learn it also has some rather good views. Here are the best of them and how to find them!
Cabo Santa Maria Shipwreck
The most famous view of the island must be this hulking shipwreck, resting amid the turbulent surf of the north of the island. It ran aground on the 1st of September 1968, and thanks to the relentless Atlantic waves, it’s now down to a russet skeleton.
The path to reach the wreck is long and bumpy. We took a 4×4 taxi from Sal Rei, across cobbled paths and rock-strewn sand tracks. Buttery sand dunes line the shore, and although it’s easy to scramble down for a closer look at the ship remains, there’s no ignoring the debris also washed up here – time to recycle, people!
Santa Monica Beach
I’m trying not to boast here, but I have seen a lot of nice beaches. And yet I never expected to stand on one as beautiful as Praia de Santa Monica and have the whole place to myself.
All we knew upon setting off on a 45-minute cross-island drive was that Praia de Santa Monica was considered the best beach on the island. I didn’t get to see them all, but I can testify that it would take some beating.
On the day we were there, the waves were barely lapping the shore, the cream sands were completely unspoilt, and the water was shimmering in more shades of turquoise than I can name. And best of all, there wasn’t another soul in sight as far as we could see along the 35-mile stretch.
Boa Vista Interior (AKA Mars)
We were told it rained maybe once or twice a year on Boa Vista, and crossing the interior it’s easy to believe it. Mile upon mile of dusty plain, littered with red rocks, are broken in the distance by isolated craggy mountains.
As so little of the island has paved roads, a journey to just about anywhere on Boa Vista means a foray into this alien landscape. The occasional goat is often the only reminder to bring you back to earth.
We visited Boa Vista in March, the final month of the windsurfing season, and the sight of colourful kites marking where the land meets water is synonymous with the island for me.
If you’ll allow me to come over all poetic for a second; Boa Vista may have a muted colour palette of bleached sands and earthy rock, all shrouded behind a dusty veil. But that gives way at the ocean, where marbled green seas support the flitting technicolour kites. They move like chaotic shoals of tropical fish. Until they catch a gust of wind that is, dashing off as if in a choreographed formation.
On Boa Vista there are wind and kite surfing schools dotted along the west coast, where most of the hotels and towns are too.
For an island only 29 kilometres across, Boa Vista has a surprising amount of desert. Which is great if you’re looking for an adventureland of rolling sand dunes.
The best way to get a good look at them is on a quad tour, racing across the sandy shapes. The dunes of Deserto de Viana are one of the best opportunities to jump on a quad bike, just east of Sal Rei. But you’ll find plenty more stacks of sand backing onto the beaches. Top tip: the dunes also offer protection from the elements if you’re finding the wind particularly incessant.
Can’t get enough of beautiful beachy views? Follow @rockskippers on Instagram.