São Vicente Cape Verde is one of the more westerly of the Cape Verde islands. The main town of Mindelo is a tourist and cultural centre with a lively cosmopolitan atmosphere. Although discovered in 1462, it was only in the 19th Century that the potential of the deep harbour was appreciated by the British once it became a refuelling stop for shipping. Mindelo is now a prosperous town, with restored squares and the refurbished façades of its historic buildings. The airport is located at São Pedro and has direct flights from Lisbon. Cruise liners sometimes call into Mindelo. There are daily ferries from Mindelo to Santo Antão.
In addition to the cultural places and events of Mindelo, there is the Laginha Beach with its attractive bar/restaurant. At São Pedro the beach is great for windsurfers and one of the best beaches for speed windsurfing (best conditions Nov-Apr). São Pedro is about 10km from Mindelo. To the southeast of São Pedro there are beautiful, deserted beaches of fine white coral, surrounded by the reddish brown scree on the mountains. Osprays can often be seen gliding above the water.
In Mindelo there are arts & crafts exhibitions and workshops, a cultural centre (Centro Cultural do Mindelo), an arts museum (Museu de Arte Tradicional), a lively fish market, and fruit and vegetable markets. Restaurants are plentiful and varied. You will find live music in many of the bars. Whilst Mindelo is the island’s hub, cultural events can be found throughout the island. The Baía das Gatas (The Bay of Cats) festival is held in August. Also one of the very few Gay Pride celebrations to be held in Africa takes place in Mindelo.
Places to visit
Mindelo is an attractive town. It is not a large city and so it is easy to explore on foot. There are also interesting discoveries to be made if you venture out of the towns. Plants that have adapted to desert conditions will be found, together with palm trees and vegetable plots along with acacia groves. There are small villages to explore, such as Calhau, with its colourful houses. Island tours are available. São Vicente is also the stepping stone to the island of Santo Antão, with its mountains and hiking trails.
São Vicente is in the northern Barlavento islands. Monte Verde dominates the island together with the mountain ranges of Madeiral and Fateixa. On a clear day, from the mountains, it is possible to see Santo Antão, together with the deserted islands of Santa Luzia, Branca and Raso. The water between São Vicente and Santo Antão is in fact within a submerged volcano crater. The Climate is tropical and dry, and it rarely rains on São Vicente, providing an all-year destination for those seeking warm weather and sunshine.