Well there are things to do on Boa Vista, we looked at the available trips, into the desert, round the island, to see the shipwreck, into the town of sal rei, the prices for the trips were extortionate and if I had been on the island longer would have got bored and went on some trips. I believe you can do trips through locals a lot cheaper than through tour organisers and that would be the route to take. We were also there at the wrong time of year for deep sea fishing which my husband would have liked.
If you are on Boa Viste in July, August or September you have to do the Turtle Tour at night. You will watch Turtles nesting at the beach at night, guided by experts who are doing research while you are watching and who ensure that this trip is not interfering with the turtles nesting.
Expect to pay roundabout 50 Eur for the trip which takes a few hours.
We watched a 85cm turtle doing 90 eggs in her nest and crawling back into the ocean.
The only drawback: Ensure you book a tour in your language. We asked for a tour in either Portugues, English or German and have been booked on a French tour ;-( (see my tourist trap comments for this)
During a tour of Boa Vista island in May 2011, we visited the cluster of three villages in the north east of the island:
Cabeça dos Tarafes
Fundo das Figueiras
Our guidebook stated that these villages were located in the greenest part of the island, in an area known as "The Garden of Boa Vista". They didn't appear to be particularly green, but compared to the rest of the island (which consists of sandy beaches and a rocky, dusty interior) there was certainly more plant life here than elsewhere. There were trees lining some of the streets and bright pink and red bougainvillea on the front of many of the homes.
We first arrived at Cabeça dos Tarafes having travelled up the east side of the island over rough tracks in a 4 wheel drive pick-up truck. Compared to the road that we had travelled along up until this point, the road into Cabeça dos Tarafes and onto the other two villages was of a much better standard. It wasn't a tarmac road, but at least it was a clearly defined, if somewhat cobbled, road. You could easily drive between the villages in a standard car (i.e. not an off-road vehicle) and that is more than can be said for much of the rest of the island!
Cabeça dos Tarafes was almost deserted as we passed through; we saw only one solitary lady walking along one of the streets and into what appeared to be a bar/grocery store. We didn't stop here, we just drove through slowly and snapped a few photos from the back of the truck. There were a few dozen pretty little houses, all low rise and some painted in bright colours and boasting small gardens outside. There didn't appear to be much here to attract a visitor's attention for too long; in fact a satellite map of the village on www.boavistaexperience.com marks only two buildings out for a mention and both of those are bars/grocery stores.
A few minutes after passing through Cabeça dos Tarafes we arrived at Fundo das Figueiras, the largest and most active of the three villages. I believe that the village also goes by the name of "Norte" (or maybe this is a collective term for all 3 villages), as this name appears on some maps of Boa Vista island.
We stopped in Fundo das Figueiras and had a walk around the village. The main street was lined with a handful of trees and a lady was sitting under the shade of one of them selling fruit and vegetables. We passed a school, a couple of bars/restaurants and rows of pretty houses painted in pastel colours and boasting colourful flowers outside. Dogs and chickens roamed the cobbled side streets and a few locals could be seen sitting in the shaded areas at the side of the road. We ended our visit with a brief look inside the village's impressive church.
The village was far from busy, but was clearly the centre of activity as far as these three villages are concerned. The satellite map on www.boavistaexperience.com highlights several of the buildings, including a handful of bars/restaurants, two schools, the church, a post office and a clinic.
Shortly after leaving Fundos das Figueiras we passed through João Galego. The village consisted mainly of one straight road, lined on both sides with mostly low rise buildings. There were more colourful homes and red bougainvillea. We spotted a small church and a grocery store. The map on www.boavistaexperience.com shows that the village also has a school, a cultural centre, a bar and even a disco. Like Cabeça dos Tarafes that we had passed through previously, João Galego appeared to be deserted as we drove through; we saw only one gentleman and even he appeared to be walking away from the village!
Boa Vista doesn't have many settlements, so these three northern villages form one of the island's main urban areas outside the capital Sal Rei and the town of Rabil. They are well worth a visit!
Ervatao beach is a secluded and unspoilt beach located on the east coast of Boa Vista island.
There are no settlements close to the beach and it can only be reached, over rough, rocky terrain, in an off road vehicle. We visited the beach in a pick-up truck during a tour of the island in May 2011.
The beach was empty when we visited. A refreshing breeze blew across the beach (as it does on much of Boa Vista's coast) and a constant succession of waves broke on the shore. There was a solitary thatched roof shelter on the sand, offering a little shade from the strong sun.
In the distance, at the far end of the beach, we could see a Land Rover parked up and a makeshift camp being constructed. Our guide informed us that the camp would house students and researchers during the forthcoming turtle nesting season. Ervatao beach is one of the world's most important nesting grounds for loggerhead turtles (the third biggest such site in the world according to various websites) and a great deal of research and conservation work takes place there each year.
We were a little too early to see the turtles come ashore. The nesting season begins in June and we were there in late May. In fact, I saw on the Boa Vista Facebook page that the first turtles began nesting just one week after we had returned home.
Santa Maria shipwreck is one of the main must-see sights on a visit to Boa Vista island. We were therefore keen to ensure that we saw it during our visit to the island in May 2011.
The problem is that it isn't particularly easy to get to. We had hoped to see it during a minibus trip to Sal Rei, but our driver informed us that the vehicle wasn't suitable for such a trip; a dedicated off road vehicle would be required. Although it is located only 6km from Sal Rei, just off the island's north coast, there is no paved road leading to Santa Maria beach – just a rocky track and sand dunes.
Two days later, on a tour of the island in an off road pick-up truck, we were able to visit the shipwreck. It soon became obvious why we couldn't have visited in the minibus; only an off road vehicle could handle the requisite journey over the rough terrain.
Our driver parked the truck up on sand dunes overlooking the beach and we made a short walk downhill to the sea shore.
On first sight, the shipwreck has a really eerie appearance. It is broken in two and heavily rusted. Any paintwork has long since been stripped off by the elements and none of the windows have any glass remaining in them. It looks like a "ghostship"!
Our guide explained that the ship belonged to a wealthy trader from Spain and that it ran aground in 1968 while transporting cargo between Spain and Brazil. Apparently, local people collected the valuable cargo as it was washed ashore.
Santa Maria beach itself is a long stretch of fine sand. Although the waves were constant, the fact that they broke much further out at sea than they did at Lacacao beach where we were staying meant that swimming close to the shore was safe. We enjoyed a brief swim in the warm waters, but never ventured too close to the shipwreck. Our guide indicated that it would be dangerous to swim into the shipwreck itself and we could see the waves breaking against the wreck with quite a ferocity, so we heeded his advice and stayed well clear.
Santa Maria beach is also a protected nesting site for loggerhead turtles. Unfortunately, we were just a little too early to see the turtles on the beach as the nesting season runs from June to October and we were there the last week in May.
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