Santo Antão is the second largest of Cape Verde's ten islands. While most people choose to visit the country's sandy beaches on the islands of Sal and Boa Vista, skipping this green jewel is an absolute mistake. Here are eight facts about Santo Antão that will make you reconsider that beach holiday.
1. It's one of the greenest of all Cape Verde's islands
The northern section of the island is ripe with greenery and agriculture, making for a beautiful visit. Steam rises from the Paul Valley, lifting up from among the sugarcane, mango, and papaya trees. This tropical oasis reaches all the way down to the Atlantic, making for beautiful panoramas of the landscape.
2. It has some of the best hiking in West Africa
No matter where you are on the island, you're sure to find some beautiful views. The hike from the coastal city of Ponta do Sol to Cruzinha in the northeastern part of Santo Antão takes about four hours and isn't for the faint of heart, but the vistas along the trail are breathtaking. A quick one-hour hike from Ponta do Sol, the village of Fontainhas is perched high above the coast, and the dizzying slopes running down to the Atlantic will make even the most experienced hiker's head spin.
3. There's one fixed price for tourists and locals alike
The legal price in Cape Verde is respected by both locals and tourists. In market stalls you're likely to find some light haggling, but on the whole prices are fixed here. This can make all of Cape Verde's islands a bit more expensive, but it also means your trip will be hassle-free when it comes to how much you should pay.
4. There are two sides to the island
The main port city of Porto Novo on the south side of the island is the easiest way to get in and out of Santo Antão, with a ferry running several times a day to and from neighboring São Vicente. The view from the ferry reveals a dry, grassy landscape, but the second you pass the mountains at the center of the island you're surrounded by the lush greenery of the island's northern side. This diversity of character is what makes Santo Antao a favorite for most visitors.
5. The locals are open and friendly
As mentioned before, prices for most things in Cape Verde are fixed, making it relatively easy to get around. This culture of fairness permeates the entire culture as well, and most locals are open to meeting tourists with very few exceptions. People are more than willing to help out visitors who are lost or looking for help getting around.