Curral Velho beach is a beautiful, unspoilt white sand beach on the southern coast of Boa Vista island.
It enjoys a rather remote location at the moment, but this could change in the coming years with ongoing development at the nearby Lacacao beach. In May 2011, a new tarmac road was opened that links the south of the island with the airport at Rabil and the capital at Sal Rei. A large hotel, the Riu Touareg, was also opened in the same month.
There are no hotels, restaurants or any kinds of facilities on Curral Velho beach itself. I believe that the beach is protected so any further developments at Lacacao beach shouldn't spread to Curral Velho.
We visited Curral Velho beach from the Riu Touareg hotel. It can be reached from there in around 10 minutes in an off-road pick-up truck, slightly longer on a quad bike (available for hire on the beach outside the Riu Touareg) or, for the more energetic, could be reached on foot in an hour or two.
It is a rather exotic looking beach, backed by a handful of tall palm trees, a large salt flat and the abandoned village of Curral Velho (a small settlement of brick buildings in various states of disrepair).
The beach was empty when we visited and the sand looked almost untouched (just a few footprints were visible). A pleasant breeze was blowing across the beach and strong waves were breaking on the shore. We didn't have time to swim in the sea as were were on an island tour and our guide had earmarked a swimming stop at the Santa Maria shipwreck later in the day.
A small rocky islet, Ilheu do Curral Velho, is located just off the coast at Curral Velho beach; it is a bird sanctuary and a breeding ground for Magnificent Frigatebirds.
A lovely unspoilt beach on the southern coast of Boa Vista island – go there soon and the chances are you'll have the whole beach to yourself!
Curral Velho is an abandoned village close to the south coast of Boa Vista island, located a few kilometres to the east of Lacacao beach.
It was the first stop on an island tour that we undertook in May 2011. We left from the Riu Touareg hotel in an off-road pick-up truck and arrived at Curral Velho after a short but bumpy ride over sand dunes. You can also visit Curral Velho on quad bikes that can be hired outside the Riu Touareg hotel; it forms part of a 1 hour guided quad bike tour, although the prices of such tours are fairly expensive (more than we paid for a full tour of the island in a pick-up truck!).
Today, Curral Velho consists of a handful of unoccupied houses in various states of disrepair, standing behind a large area of salt pans and a beautiful unspoilt stretch of sandy beach. As we parked up in the pick-up truck, the location felt rather exotic – there were tall palm trees, glorious white sand and clear blue seas.
Our guide said that the village was previously occupied by a handful of fishermen and their families, but the last of them moved out around 25 years ago heading to other parts of the island, notably Sal Rei, where they would be closer to the market and the island's population centres. Apparently they still own the buildings but lack the funds to repair them.
As the south of the island continues to develop (for example with the opening of the nearby Riu Touareg hotel in May 2011, the new tarmac road connecting the south of the island with the airport at Rabil and the proposed development of Lacacao Golf Resort close by), maybe it will become economically viable to live there once more and the villagers, or their descendants, will settle the village again?
It seems unlikely that such an idyllic location will remain abandoned and unpopulated for too long, especially with the continued improvements to the island's infrastructure.