This is the perfect ‘away from it all’ destination. You can expect to find sleepy towns with colourful little houses, hilly landscapes, limestone valleys, acacia forests and coconut palms and tranquility in abundance. There are long stretches of perfect white sandy beaches, warm clear waters with very little commercialism and the friendliest locals anywhere in Cape Verde. Despite its isolation Maio is a beautiful island to visit and the perfect place to enjoy long uninterrupted walks along the deserted beaches. If you want to get away from it all this is the place for you…
There is no international airport on the island of Maio, but the island can be reached by either plane or ferry from the capital of Cape Verde, Praia. The 15 min flight from Praia is operated by the local airlines, Binter CV and TACV. Please note the flights do not go every day. Flight times can be checked and booked on their website.
Note: It has been announced that TACV will cease internal flights on 1 August 2017. Binter CV will then be the only airline operating between the Cape Verde islands.
The ferry from Praia to Maio does not operate every day and the crossing takes about three hours. The ferry is operated by Polar Lda. The ferry can be booked by going to the office (Polar Lda, Rua Andrade Corvo nr 6, Plateau, Praia, Santiago) or by buying a ticket at the jetty in either Maio or Praia.
The waters around the Cape Verde islands are teeming with sea life. There are two marine reserves around Maio where it is possible to see a large variety of fish within a protected ecosystem. At the reserve at Ponta Preta there are caves and walls available to divers.
There are a number of attractive villages, acacia forests, Morrinho sand dunes, which is a protected wildlife area and the Centro Ceramico Pottery which is in Morro. Organised tours can be undertaken by truck, or it is possible to hire a car. Another site to visit is the Salinas where salt is collected and you can see the piles of salt. An organised tour will be more informative, giving you background and history.
Visit Vila do Maio
The capital of Maio is also known as Porto Inglês. It is the main centre of habitation on the island and it is where the ferry jetty and the airport are located. Built on the side of a hill the little cobbled streets provide lovely glimpses of the sea as you explore this pretty little town. The Town Square has recently been reconstructed and provides a lovely sitting area in front of the small church. At the lovely beach you can see the fishermen landing the fresh fish.
Night time trips
The lack of street lighting means that it is possible to view a large number of stars from the island. At the right time of year (June to September) it is possible to see the turtles laying eggs and also to watch the babies going into the sea. Some people may wish to take a tent and sleep on the sand dunes under the night skies. It is only when you come to Maio that you realise how much light pollution spoils the night sky at home.
There are good opportunities for fishing from the island of Maio. The variety of fish that can be found from boats include wahoo, dorado, tuna, blue marlin and grouper. Other fish can also be caught from the beach such as bream and red mullet. Fishing can also be done from the rocks and there are also organised fishing trips by boat for deep sea fishing.
Morrinho Sand Dunes
The sand dunes of Morrinho are worth a visit. This area of the island is now a protected zone thanks to the the efforts of Tamas Szekely who started the Maio Biodiversity Foundation. There is no development allowed in this area as it contains a number of rare and interesting species. These beaches have very few people (usually none) all you will see is the sand, ocean and wild life.
Salt pans (Salinas)
In the south-west of the island there is a large salt flat. The Salina in Vila do Maio and the surrounding sand dunes and semi-desert areas are the home to many birds including migratory shorebirds and wading birds. It provides nesting grounds for marine turtles, geckos and skinks, larks, an endemic sub-species of the cream-coloured courser and the largest breeding Kentish plover population in the Atlantic Oceanic Islands.
The islanders are very talented with their hands; they have to be because it is not possible to buy everything as it is in Europe. Most things have to be made. This tour will take you to some of the arts and crafts of Maio. Souvenir items made by local craftsmen are also on sale.
Take some of the latest mountain bikes up into the mountains or along deserted beach tracks. If you hire the bicycles for a few days it is possible to visit some of the lovely little fishing villages and deserted beaches. If you are fit enough we highly recommend cycling north west to the village of Ribeira Dom João ‘Don John’s Creek’. You will find a little oasis of palm trees where you can take a shady break. Its an ideal spot for bird watching where beautiful species come to nest.
Therapies for wellness and well-being
If you have done enough physical activities or simply want to have some more restful, relaxing time for yourself there are a selection of therapies for wellness and well-being available. These include massage (Including, relaxing, sporting, californian, lymphadrainage, tui na) reflexology and reiki.
We are currently looking for an activity provider for this space
Three Bedroom Detached Villa Ocean Views (Sleeps 6)
This attractive villa will accommodate six people. The property has two ground floor bedrooms, one with double bed and one with two single beds and then a mezzanine bedroom with two single beds. The double room has attractive sea views and also views of the shared infinity pool. The kitchen is fully equipped for self-catering needs and the comfortable living room has views of the garden and the sea.
The beautiful tropical garden provides two terraces – one offering shade and the other sun. The gardens are well maintained and attractively laid out. The shade terrace provides an excellent location for outside dining, with a table and chairs where you can enjoy your meal while looking at the garden and the sea. Two cushioned sun loungers are provided in the garden and there are two hammocks for use in the shade.
Maio can windy, but the villa is ideally located and provides shelter from the north east winds, so it is always warm and pleasant. Close to the villa (20m) there is a shared salt-water infinity pool, which is the perfect place to cool off on a hot sunny day. The garden and the pool face west and benefit from views of the sunset over the next island of Santiago. There is also a small private beach with access down steps from the infinity pool.
The villa is within a gated compound and this gives an added sense of privacy and seclusion. The main town of Vila do Maio is only a few minutes walk away, and there are two small supermarkets close by. Stella Maris is located between two lovely beaches. Through the town you reach the main beach (Bitxe Rotxa) and in the opposite direction a short walk takes you to Ponta Preta Beach. Both are beautiful sandy beaches and very often almost deserted.
Photos of Maio island