This island is very much like the Island of Sal, with its contrasted landscapes as you make your way inland. Upon arrival, there is a desert of ochre-coloured mountains that never fails to enthrall visitors and that gradually gives way to barren land with unfinished buildings. Then, an amazing sight awaits the visitor. In the distance, you can makes out the stunning bay of Mindelo. It is a port and an incredibly authentic town. Nestled at the foot of two extinct volcanoes, Mindelo is far from dormant and is quite a bustling place. At night and during the day, Mindelo is full of life and full of youths who come here to party and meet up on the main square, Amilcar Cabral, which is also the place where tourists congregate before heading to one of the many bars and restaurants. Music is part of everyone's daily life here; in fact, you won't be able to get it out of your head. Mindelo is the perfect place to clear your head and have a good time. Speaking of which, the carnival, held every year in February, is a real institution. The locals wouldn't miss it for anything in the world. Everyone comes together for the occasion and some people even come from the other islands to take part in this event that everyone looks forward to. Tourists mingle with the locals to form a single massive crowd.
A half-day trip around the island that will take you to the highest point of the island and through varied landscapes, such as that of Baia das Gatas, Calhau and Mindelo. When you're staying in Saõ Vicente, don't forget to visit the island of Santo Antaõ, the impressive hills of which can be seen in the distance. You will hear a lot of talk about this island and its green mountains and deep valleys; if you're in the region for the beauty of the landscapes and your love of nature, this is the place to go and enjoy many wonderful excursions. You used to be able to get there by plane, but now the only access is provided by two ferry services: the Armas and the Ribeira Grande. The crossing takes approximately three quarters of an hour.
Wherever you are, don't drink the tap water. It is also wise not to go out with valuables, passports or large amounts of cash. Cape Verde is not really a dangerous place, but a couple of cases of bag-snatching have been reported. Be especially careful at night-time, never go out alone and avoid badly lit areas.
In Cape Verde, fish is the staple diet and you will find it on all the menus, be it grouper, tuna, mackerel, whiting, etc. It is often served with rice, veggies and potatoes and there is also a fair deal of seafood (the grilled shrimp and prawns are out of this world). The local dish is the cachupa and is based on corn, beans, pork, manioc and potatoes, and there are slight differences in its preparation, depending on where you are.
There are three places that you should absolutely go to:
- The 'Café Mindelo' serves the best squid.
- The 'Chez Loutcha' restaurant has a very friendly atmosphere and serves food from all over the world, as well as local dishes.
- The 'Association maritime' with its fantastic owner, James, and his hilarious stories and home-made cooking that is simply delicious.