Cape Verde has an abundance of lovely beaches. Some are white sand and some are black from the volcanic action in the past. This picture was taken on the island of São Vicente. Cape Verde beaches are often deserted, except on the more touristy islands.
Salt has been produced in the Cape Verde islands since the 18th Century. Pedra de Lume on the island of Sal (Salt in English) was one of the main areas for production. In 1985 the operations at Pedra de Lume ceased, but the site has become an interesting place for visitors. You can see the remains of the conveyor system, that could transport 25 tons an hour. A bathe in the water, which is only about 600mm deep is an interesting experience. The salt water makes it easy to float, and the experience is similar to bathing in the Dead Sea. So, if you are visiting Sal, include Pedra de Lume on your itinerary and take a dip in the water. Take some suitable shoes to use in the pool because of the sharp salt crystals.
We are now in the carnival season. Cape Verdeans know how to celebrate and there is fun to be had. In Mindelo on São Vicente the main Carnival celebration will be on the 13th of February, but the festivities will have commenced last night (Friday). It is worth visiting and joining in the party. Celebrations also take place on other islands in Cape Verde.
You will find a fruit and vegetable market in many towns in Cape Verde. They are colourful places and this one on the island of Santiago is no exception. The various sellers will actively try to persuade you to buy their produce. Even if you are staying in a hotel, they are worth a visit. The availability of fruit and vegetables can be variable, especially on some of the smaller islands.
The parliament in Cape Verde has passed a act of parliament that will enable the granting of permanent residency permits to foreign owners of homes in the country. These permits will mean that owners will be given priority at the offices of the Foreign and Borders Service. Such priorities will also include a spouse and children aged under 14.
These Residency Permits will apply to properties costing over €80,000 in towns where the Gross Domestic Product is below the national average. In towns where the GDP is higher than the national average, it will apply to properties costing over €120,000.
The same bill also gives some exemptions from the Single Property Tax on the relevant properties. Retired people living in Cape Verde, but with income from elsewhere, will also receive some tax exemptions.
In winter, winds known as the Harmatten blow west over the Sahara Desert. In the process the winds pick up sand and dust from the Sahara and blow it over the Atlantic. This year, at the end of January, NASA’s satellites picked up images of the Saharan sand over the ocean and over the Cape Verde islands.
The mountainous islands, such as Santiago, São Nicolau and Santo Antão block some of the sand. As a result there is less dust on the west side of the archipelago. The sand blows across the Atlantic to the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. The sand fertilises the sea with nutrients, which can promote the growth of plankton, but can also bring about damage to coral reefs, because of micro-organisms it contains.
Cape Verde has become a popular holiday destination in recent years. The majority of visitors by far travel to the islands of Sal and Boa Vista, mainly because of the beautiful beaches. The beauty of Cape Verde as a tourist destination lies in the fact that all the islands have something special to offer, including their diversity.
The city of Mindelo is located on the island of São Vicente, and is known as ‘the cultural capital’ of Cape Verde. About 90% of the island’s population lives in what is the second largest city of the country, after the capital Praia. Here are 5 reasons why you should travel to Mindelo:
The Biggest & Best Events of the Country
Mindelo is very proud of it’s status as the cultural capital of Cape Verde. The city has earned this status because of the many events that it hosts all year long. Mindelo hosts the biggest Carnival celebration in the country, and also the biggest music festival.
The 2018 Carnival celebration will be on the 13th of February, when the 4 official Carnival groups of the island battle for the title of ‘Carnival Champion’. The official kick-off will be on the Friday night with a big music truck parading down the streets of Mindelo. Thousands of people join in over a few days of fun and dancing.
Baía das Gatas:
This music festival, organised in the village of Baía, has been around for more than 30 years. Usually held on the second weekend of August, from Friday to Sunday, with international and local artists performing for a huge crowd.
New Year’s Eve:
The celebration of New Year in Mindelo happens in two famous places in the city centre: main street Rua de Lisboa, and on the boulevard along the Avenida Marginal. People gather to watch the fireworks down at the boulevard. A small group also honours the tradition of going into the water at midnight. Rua de Lisboa is where the party continues until the early morning, with big international artists performing for a huge crowd.
Mindelo also hosts an annual Gay Pride event, which is one of the very few in Africa. This is a relatively new development, but to be welcomed. Cape Verde is following Europe and leading the way in Africa on matters of equality and human rights.
The beaches might not be the no.1 reason why people travel to the island of São Vicente, but it has a few lovely beaches that deserve a visit. Laginha Beach is located just a few minutes outside Mindelo’s city centre. It’s a lovely beach with an amazing view of the iconic Monte Cara (Face Mountain) and the island of Santo Antão. The beach has a brand new beach lounge, where you can hang out all day long.
The villages outside the city have great beaches as well. The beaches of Salamansa and São Pedro (close to the airport) for example, which are known for the watersports activities like kitesurfing. In addition to Laginha and the beaches of the villages, São Vicente also has a few ‘secret’ beaches, such as Jon D’Ebra and Palha Carga.
Mindelo is not only popular for the bigger events that it hosts. It is also well known for the many bars and restaurants. The Mindelenses (people from Mindelo) love going out, and have many options. A lot of places in the city have nights with live music, especially at the weekends. Visitors travel to Mindelo to hear the music that Cesária Évora, ‘the Queen of Cape Verde’, brought to the rest of the world.
The bars and restaurants offer a nice mix of traditional music, such as morna and coladeira, and other more international sounds like reggae. Eating Out in Mindelo gives the visitor a lot of choice, because there are many good restaurants. The choice includes Italian, French, European, Greek, Cajun and Creole. Dancing the night away in clubs Caravela or Syrius is an option from Thursdays to Saturdays, where DJ’s play all types of music all night long.
The Bay of Porto of Grande
The bay of Porto Grande has often been named one of the world’s most beautiful bays. Mindelo is a harbour city, and it’s harbour is one of the most important in this part of the Atlantic. The island of São Vicente was actually the last of the Cape Verdean islands to be permanently populated. This only happened after an English coal factory was opened in the harbour of Porto Grande.
Much has happened since then, but the bay is as beautiful as it’s always been. Picture the sun shining on the ocean, the many fishing boats on the shore and in the water, the view of the famous Monte Cara (Face Mountain) across the bay. One of the perfect places to see the sunset is along Avenida Marginal, close to the Fish Market, on what the locals call ‘Boat Beach’.
Mindelo is a city of creatives, artists and musicians. The Street Art scene is not a very big one, but that is starting to change. In a neighbourhood called Ribeira Bote a team of residents are using the power of Street Art to create new opportunities. This is a part of the city that used to made headlines for negative reasons. It is now an example that other initiatives look at to get the same results.
Together with a Community Tourism Project in the neighbourhood, Sonvela Arte is transforming one of Cape Verde’s most notorious places, and it’s getting ready to do much more. The team is planning projects on other islands, and is working on the first ever Cape Verde Street Art Festival. This should take place towards the end of the year.
The government of Cape Verde is planning to remove the requirement to purchase a visa for visitors from the USA, Canada and the non-Schengen counties of Europe (which includes the UK). The relaxation of visa requirements for visitors from the European Union, which was agreed last year, comes into force in May of this year. The aim of this extension to the visa waiver is intended to encourage more investment, more employment opportunities and more visitors from further afield.
Cars in the streets of Maio are probably less common than livestock! It is not uncommon to see chickens, goats, cows and even pigs in the streets. This all adds to the charm of this lovely island. Animals can also sometimes be found enjoying the beaches.