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The Cape Verdean island of Boa Vista is served by the small, laid back Rabil International Airport.
The airport, which is shaped like a sandcastle, is located close to the small village of Rabil, about 5km south of the island's capital, Sal Rei.
Many people who arrive at Rabil Airport will be staying in one of the large Riu hotels on the island. The Riu Karamboa hotel is just a 5 minute coach journey from the airport while the new Riu Touareg hotel, located on Lacacao beach on the south coast of the island, is a 30-40 minutes drive away. A new tarmac road will reduce the latter's transfer time eventually, but as at May 2011 it covered less than half of the route with the remainder of the journey being on rough cobbled roads.
Rabil Airport only received its first international flight in late 2007 and has only had a paved runway for a few years.
As at May 2011, the airport was served by Thomson Airways charter flights from a handful of UK airports, TUI charter flights from several German and Scandinavian cities and a few scheduled flights to other northern European cities, as well as Lisbon, Porto and Madrid.
As well as international flights, there are several inter-island flights each day between Rabil and Sal, Praia and Fogo. We landed early on a Saturday afternoon from Manchester and the arrivals screen indicated that only 3 further flights were scheduled to land that day; all arriving from Cape Verde's capital, Praia, on the island of Santiago.
Due to the airport's small size it can only currently handle one international flight at a time. We found ourselves queueing for some time upon arrival to get through passport control and then waiting for quite a while at the airport's solitary luggage carousel for our suitcases to appear. It's certainly not a fast paced airport...but that adds to the charm as far as I'm concerned!
On leaving Boa Vista, we again found ourselves queueing for some time at check-in (there were a handful of check-in desks open), passport control and security, before finally arriving in the open air departure lounge. As departure lounges go, Rabil's must be one of the most laid-back in the world; you can sunbathe while waiting for your flight to board!
There is a small duty free shop (selling wines, spirits, CDs and souvenirs) and a small kiosk selling pizza slices and drinks.
Adding further to the airport's quaint charm are the posters declaring that "This airport loves you and we hope that you did love us too". Imagine that at Heathrow!!
Written May 31, 2011
Clubhotel Riu Karamboa Concelho da Boa Vista