São Nicolau is an authentic Cape Verdean island. Four different landscapes make it unique for tourists who like walking on the beautiful tracks in the various parts of the island.
Walking from the road to Praia Branca to Carberinho on the west takes you to an incredible rock wall at the coast. Many people think it is created by the sea and waves, however, the main formation happened thanks to the rain, perhaps many thousand years ago, after the creation of this volcanic island. It is considered by some to be the most impressive sight in the whole of Cape Verde.
In the north west of the island there is a beautiful walk to Ribeira da Prata. Then onward on a beautiful walk a few kilometers further south you reach the Monte Gordo. This is the 1300m mountain, the highest on São Nicolau. There is a small, but beautiful wood around Monte Gordo comprising several hundred dragon trees (Dracaena draco). This is a special place and popular with many visitors. You can walk to 1000m, alternatively you can carry on to the top. If you reach the road to Vila da Ribeira Brava and Tarrafal to the other side (Pico Agudo), you will always find a lift after a short wait. The total walking time for this expedition is about 5 hours.
Another beautiful walk (of 2-3 hours) is from Cabeçalinho to Calejão and Vila da Ribeiro Brava. The tourist map gives more options from Cabeçalinho to Ribeira Brava, the main village on the island.
Juncalinho is a pure Cape Verdean village, free from tourism and a nice to visit. The road on the northern coast is beautiful, however, it is better to take an aluguer from the main village, or alternatively rent a car. You can then visit the simple fishing village of Carrecal.
Walking on the east of the island is not recommended. It is a rough rocky landscape, and also saharan-like, with many kilometers of sand in the far east. To do this by car and visiting a beautiful big oasis is recommended.
Fajã in the centre of the island is the most green and fertile part of São Nicolau. You can leave your aluguer,(public car) and to take a beautiful walk to Queimadas de Baixo and back to the main street (2-3hours), or to Queimadas de Cima and down to the main Village (4 hours). Queimadas de Baixo can also be visited by car.
The quietness together with the Cape Verdean character of São Nicolau is important. Most Cape Verdean guesthouses only offer bed and breakfast. There are plenty of small restaurants with Cape Verdean meals including rice, sweet potatoes, fried fish, but few or no green vegetables. In Tarrafal Casa Aquario is now well known as the best international restaurant. A very good plate service restaurant is Ancora; and also an excellent Cape Verdean restaurant is Felicidade. Good fish dinners are often available in small bars.
Public transport is good, inexpensive and reliable and it can take you to the start of a beautiful view of the island. Renting a four wheel drive will cost 60 euros for 24 hours, and also a driver can be provided if preferred. There is an airport on São Nicolau with flights from Praia (Santiago) and São Vicente. Also the island is also served by ferries from several other islands.
São Nicolau is a relatively unknown island within the Cape Verdean archipelago, but one that should not be missed.