About São Vicente
São Vicente (Portuguese for “Saint Vincent”) is one of the Barlavento islands. It is roughly rectangular in shape with a surface area of ca. 227 km2 (88 sq mi). From east to west it measures 24 km (15 mi) and from north to south no more than 16 km (9.9 mi). Mountains and lovely beaches that are a magnet for windsurfers are a feature of this island.
São Vicente is in the west of the Cape Verde islands and is a stepping-stone to the most westerly of the islands, Santo Antão. It is an arid island with the vast majority of the island’s population living in its main town of Mindelo. The main mountain is called Monte Verde and rises to 750m; it affords great views of the island and beyond. Although Mindelo is an attraction for visitors, there are other small towns and villages, such as São Pedro on the west of the island, which is very popular with windsurfers, kite surfers and boards
The Terrain is dominated by Monte Verde and the mountain ranges of Madeiral and Fateixa. From these it is possible to see Santo Antão and even the deserted islands of Santa Lucia, Branca and Raso on a clear day. There are interesting discoveries to be made if you don’t stick to the towns. Plants that have adapted to desert conditions will be found, together with palm trees and vegetable plots along with groves of acacia trees. There are small villages, such as Calhau, with its colourful houses.
The main town of Mindelo is a tourist and cultural magnet. Although discovered in 1462, it was only in the 19th Century that the potential of the deep harbour was appreciated by the British when it became a refuelling stop for ships. It is now a prosperous town, with restored squares and refurbished facades of its historic buildings. It is easily explored on foot and there are arts and crafts exhibitions and workshops, a cultural centre (Centro Cultural do Mindelo) an arts museum (Museu de Arte Tradicional), a lively fish market, and fruit and vegetable markets.
Culture is a feature of São Vicente. Whilst Mindelo is the hub, cultural events can be found throughout the island. The cosmopolitan atmosphere in Mindelo has spawned many musicians, writers, artists and thinkers. The Centro Cultural do Mindelo has exhibition space, a bookshop, a gift shop and a programme of films and talks, mostly in Portuguese or Creole. The Museu de Arte Tradicional houses exhibitions of ceramics, pano weaving, tapestries and musical instruments. Mindelo is proud of its rich tradition of music and art and has a vibrant nightlife.
Eating Out in Mindelo makes for difficult decisions, because there are many good restaurants. The choice includes Italian, French, European, Greek, Cajun and Creole. Although the main concentration is in Mindelo, there are good places to eat in other towns. Fresh fish is available in most places, garoupa being one of the local fish caught locally, along with tuna and wahoo. The Cape Verdean speciality is cachupa, a stew of hominy corn, beans, vegetables, spices and marinated pork or tuna and there are may other wonderful dishes to be tried.
The beaches, as with the other islands in the archipelago, are plentiful. The beach at São Pedro is a windsurfers paradise and one of the best for speed windsurfing (best conditions Nov-Apr) and to the southeast of São Pedro there are beautiful, deserted beaches of fine white coral, surrounded by the reddish brown scree on the mountains. Osprays can be seen gliding above the water.
In the centre of Mindelo you will find Copacabana beach, this is a great spot to relax and enjoy the views across Mindelo bay. The beach near the small town of Baía das Gatas (The bay of cats) on the northeast of the island is considered safe for children, being protected from the winds. It is also where the biggest festival takes place on the beach. The Baia das Gatas Music Festival occurs each year over the August full moon. Usually a long weekend. Full of artists and bands, this festival is a real party and should not be missed by any party goer.
The Climate is tropical and dry, and it rarely rains on São Vicente. The dry season in Cape Verde is generally November to June with temperature and humidity rising between July and October. Any rain is normally confined to October. The temperature varies very little and is normally in the range of 21°C and 28°C. It can be cooler at night. Wind is at its strongest between January and April, but calm to moderate for the remainder of the year. The climate provides an all-year destination for those seeking sun and warmth.
International flights: Cape Verde has four international airports with over 40 flights a week to the islands of; Sal, Boa Vista, São Vicente and Praia. You can fly to any of them and still use the local flights to connect however it’s better to go direct to the island of São Vicente (unless you want to go island hopping). All the airlines on this page fly to Cesária Évora airport in the city of Mindelo on the island of São Vicente. If you need any help with your flights please contact us with your preferred city of departure and we will try to find the best route for you. A visa is required, this can be bought on arrival for €25.
Sao Vicente International Airport (Cesária Évora) Live Arrivals and Departures
Latest News: For the latest travel news see the travel category of the news page
Airlines that fly to São Vicente International Airport
Culture is one of the main features of São Vicente. In addition to Carnival and a music festival there are other celebrations on various Saints Days. In Mindelo there is an arts museum and a cultural centre. The island is home to artists, musicians, writers and philosophers and as such, has become the arts centre of Cape Verde. Mindelo enjoys a lively nightlife with nightclubs and with many of the restaurants and bars staging live music.
São Vicente is considered by some to be the best of the Cape Verdean islands for diving. The waters around the island are home to manta rays, nurse sharks, whale sharks and turtles. There are opportunities for diving in various locations on the island. There are also boat tours that include sleeping cabins and from which dives can be made.
Big Game Fishing
There are several boats in the marina in Mindelo that offer the chance to go big game fishing for a day. The waters around São Vicente are home to a variety of fish of all sizes. The waters between São Vicente and Santo Antão attract the Blue Marlin and the catching of these large fish has given Cape Verde a reputation as one of the most rewarding fishing areas in the world.
Surfing and Boarding
The year-round good climate and strong Atlantic currents and winds provide excellent conditions for kite surfing, wind surfing and board surfing. Baía de Salamansa is considered to be one of the best places in the world for kite surfing. Equipment can be hired. São Pedro is well known for windsurfing, because of its excellent conditions.
Walking up Monte Verde will offer great views of the island and beyond, and the neighbouring island of Santo Antão is easily reached by ferry and offers a very different environment with excellent opportunities for hiking and trekking. This is considered to be the best hike on the island. Monte Verde (Green Mountain) is covered with vegetation, hence its name. To get there take a taxi or Aluguer and they will take you to the road to Salamanca. It is a relatively easy hike and will take approximately 2 hours.
The roads on São Vicente are poor or even non-existent in places, and so it is ideally explored in a four-wheel drive vehicle with a guide; most of the journey will be off-road. This way you will see a lot of the island, much of it unpopulated, and the guide will be able to tell you about the environment.
Quad bikes can be a fun way to explore parts of the island. Bikes are available to hire with or without a guide and for a four-hour or full day rental. It is important to avoid restricted areas, which may be restricted for reasons of turtle nesting or other ecological reasons.
Mindelo provides great opportunities for souvenir shopping. There are shops selling traditional locally made products including locally made jewellery made from raw materials such as banana leaves, pods and mussels. There is a large fruit and veg market full of locally grown produce, mostly from Santo Antao. Local art is also on sale, alongside artworks from artists visiting from other countries including Germany.
Accommodation in Mindelo
Modern 2 bed apartment in Mindelo (Sleeps 4)
Apartment Apê Regala is located in the centre of Mindelo, the historic capital of São Vicente. Within a short walk there are shops, restaurants and bars. The apartment is on the top floor of a small, four-storey apartment block, which has a lift. The building is in Praça Dr. Regala Square, which is lively during the day, but quiet at night. The ferry to Santo Antão is a 10-minute walk away and Laginha beach is a 15- minute walk.
The apartment can accommodate up to four people and includes one double bedroom and one twin bedded room; there is a living room, with a balcony, bathroom, separate toilet and an open-plan kitchen. The apartment is well equipped with air-conditioning in the living room and master bedroom, and Wi-Fi available.
On the ground floor of the apartment building there is a pastelaria (bakery), which is normally open from 6:00 till 23:00 and sells freshly baked bread, cakes, pastries and drinks. It is also possible to deliver a Cape Verdean lunch to the apartment for a modest price. Some basic items are also provided within the apartment, such as sugar and detergents.
Accommodation in Sao Pedro
Modern guest house in São Pedro with sea views (two guest rooms and two studios)
The small village of San Pedro is just a few minutes from the São Vicente airport and about 15 minutes from the capital of São Vicente, Mindelo. BB Le Gourmet is in the centre of the village and provides guests with excellent, well designed and equipped accommodation, with comfort being our priority. They can book airport transfers for you if you so wish. They speak English, French and Dutch.
There are two guest rooms and two studios with small kitchen, bathroom, shower television, fan, WiFi and an external balcony or terrace. The facilities have been carefully designed for people with disabilities, including a lift. There is also a swimming pool on the rooftop sun terrace.
The prices vary according to the room and the season, but currently range between 30€ and 60€ per night including breakfast. Other meals can be provided on request, and comprise European food. If you wish to visit the beautiful islands of Santo Antão and São Nicolau, they can book the ferry tickets, hotels and trekking guides for you. They can also book tours of São Vicente.
The lovely white beach of San Pedro is just a few minutes away and there are views of the sea and beach from the house. This beach is ideal for those who enjoy sunbathing, swimming, scuba diving, fishing and surfing, or simply enjoying a nice walk. There are three restaurants in the village. From San Pedro it is easy to visit Mindelo. Other attractions on the island can be visited from Mindelo and include the beaches at Baía das Gatas, Calhau and Salamansa. The ferries to Santo Antão and São Nicolau go from the port in Mindelo. The climate in Cape Verde is lovely the whole year round with very pleasant sea temperatures.
Photos of São Vicente island