The main points of interest in Mindelo are within walking
distance from the residence. If needed a map of the town is available
within the "Directions" tab of this website to help for
Passing through the famous Praça Nova
take a stroll towards the Palácio do Governador and check
its architecture. Also check other buildings in the Pracinha de Igreja
Get a taste of the typical atmospheres of the famous Café Lisboa
in the street with the same name, of the covered market just nearby
and of the fish market further south. In so doing cross the Praça
Estrela and discover artists' workshops and studios that often open
their doors to the public.
Walk up the Avenida Marginal all the way to the Porto Grande
harbor, then follow the road till you reach the Laginha beach.
If you have a vehicle, visit the villages of Baía
das Gatas, Norte Baía, Calhau and São
Pedro. Climb on top of the Monte Verde from where you will
get a fantastic view of the Mindelo bay.
Live music in Mindelo is not as widespread as some advertising
companies or tour operators would like potential tourists to believe.
This said, many talented Capverdean artists (and there are plenty, especially
when including emigrants!) regularly give performances. With a little
luck you could attend fantastic concerts in convivial ambiances, sometimes
intimate (the reason being that the fare are hardly affordable for the
local population ) Places to check on week-ends include:
- Café Musique, rua de Lisboa;
- Mindel hotel, praça Nova (or praça Amilcar Cabral), bay side;
- Porto Grande hotel, praça Nova (or praça Amilcar Cabral), hill
Some restaurants (ask us upon arrival because the addresses change according to the day of the week) regularly have live bands to accompany your meals.
Also, small and improvised concerts sometimes take place in one or the
other open air restaurants located along the Laginhabeach.
Finally, the Baía das Gatasfestival
occurs every year in August during a full moon week-end (dear to Vasco
Martins, one of the funding members.) Internationally known, this festival
attracts numerous artists from the Capverdean scene, but also from the
African, Caribbean, Brazilian and European horizons.
Mindelo has a lot of restaurants, some so discretely signaled that they
are difficult to spot, but you shouldn't have too much problem for finding
one to your taste. To date (July 2006) "big tables" do not exist
but excellent "cuisine" can still be found. Prices range from
5 €uros for a traditional "cachupa" (meat stew with corn
and black beans) to 30 €uros for a more complete and elaborated meal
(grilled lobsters, wine and dessert.)
Here are a short list of our favorite addresses sorted
from the lowest to the highest price:
- La Bodeguita, in the Alto Miramar neighborhood, less than 5 minutes away from our residence walking down towards the city.
Bruno, a native of the French Antilles, cooks delicious Caribbean and African dishes in this little restaurant-tapas-bar. Very friendly, excellent value.
- Pica Pau, 42 rua Santo Antonio, a small street (a bit shabby
at night) in the continuation of the avenida 5 de Julho going towards
the Praça Estrala. Excellent sea-food rice and grilled lobsters
(when available.) Leave a personal message on the wall before leaving
:-) Very reasonable prices.
- Archotte, Alto São Nicolau (area located behind the praça
nova that you pass when walking towards the harbor) near the Cave night
club, excellent sea food and wines with live music every nights.
The water temperature varies between 21 and 24 °C
depending on the season.
Swimming can be hazardous at some beaches due to strong currents and undertows.
Unless you are an excellent and skillful swimmer please select watched
Other beaches are perfectly safe, even for young age children, but these
are the busiest. On these beaches in particular you need to be aware of
the presence of (a few) pickpockets. Thus keep your personal belongings
in your field of view or leave them to someone when you go bathing to
prevent from unpleasant surprises. But don't get paranoid, you are very
far from Copacabana
When going to desert beaches (it still exists!) try to get information
from locals before jumping into the water to know the hazards associated
to the spot, if any. Usually these are always about currents and undertows;
we never heard a bad story about animals with sharp teeth or poisonous
- Laginha : located in the city of Mindelo just beyond the Porto
Grande harbor. This beach is not magnificent but still nice and very conveniently
located. It is also the busiest. Watched during the day it is very safe
for all ages. Perfect for an improvised and quick bathing.
- Salamansa : on the road to Baía turn off left 2 kilometers
before the village towards Salamansa. Long and beautiful white-sand beach,
some parts dangerous with strong currents. This beach is not watched so
use caution if you decide to swim!
- Baía das Gatas : this is a natural swimming
pool, big and roughly circular, with white sand. Quite nice off-season,
it is less attractive in summer and worse after the festival when it is
almost insalubrious During high-season (July-August) it is recommended
to go on week-days as it can get crowded on week-ends: it is one of the
favorite destinations of the "Mindelenses". No particular hazards
if you stay within the limits of the swimming pool, suitable to all ages.
- Norte Baía : on the road to Baía
turn off right to a little dirt track some 500 meters before entering
the village. Very beautiful white sand beach, with the arch dreamed up
and designed by Vasco Martins that dominates the area (check pictures
on this website.) There is current and this beach is not watched, so please
use caution if you decide to swim!
- Praia Grande : on the road to Calhau turn off
left to a dirt track a few hundred meters before the village entrance.
You will end up in a beautiful long and white-sand beach. It is watched,
but the shore break can be quite impressive at times. For experienced
and skillful swimmers only.
- Praia Palha Carga (a.k.a. Topona) :
on the road to Calhau you will need to find "the" dirt track
to your right that will lead you to this beautiful black-sand beach, which
is not watched.
- Flamengos : drive towards the airport and turn
left about five kilometers before reaching it towards the windmills. Drive
another kilometer then turn right and follow up to the end. Beautiful
white-sand beach, with rocks. It is not watched, remote and fairly dangerous,
for sunbathing only.
- São Pedro : superb long and white-sand
beach close to the airport. It is watched on one side (North end only)
but fairly dangerous with well known currents. Use caution if you decide
There are other beaches to discover. Most notably a
thread on a Forum mentions Flamenguinhos that would be located
on the South coast, difficult to access, with pebbles but also fantastic
natural swimming pools To your 4WD!
São Vicente offers good waves and excellent wind
suitable to a public ranging from beginners to experts. If we had to justify
our investment in this Hotel kitesurfing would be a significant one
Trade winds blow from November till June and it is very rare to have 7
consecutive days without good conditions to go on the water. The predominating
wind is the Nordeste, which strength usually ranges between 14
and 25 knots and which is regular (very few gusts.)
Wave conditions vary depending on the spots. Water temperature ranges
between 21 et 24 °C depending on the season and a short-sleeves suit
is recommended (we use "shorty".)
The spots are :
- Salamansa : starboard side-shore wind, perfectly parallel to
the shore. Over one kilometer of white-sand beach, very rare swimmers.
Waves are small and reach a maximum height of 1m50 except exceptional
sea conditions. A few rocks, some currents, but the place is safe and
unless you happen to loose your board far away from the shore hardly anything
bad could happen. This beach is not watched. For advanced riders.
- Natural swimming pool of Baía das
Gatas : port side-on-shore wind. Practicable in winter only (from
October till June) and preferably on week-days as it is likely to be too
crowded with swimmers in summer and on week-ends. For beginners.
- Fishing harbor of Baía das Gatas
: port side-on-shore wind. It is really a shame that there are so many
rocks lying underwater, otherwise this spot would be just perfect for
beginners. No particular hazards beside for your feet and ankles, and
make sure to land your kite on the sand when you come back to the shore
as it is fairly rocky. For intermediate riders.
- Norte Baía : wind port side-on-shore. The beach is smaller
than Salamansa and has occasional swimmers. It is actually better than
Salamansa when the wind is North and strong, the sea can be stronger (stronger
currents and waves) and there are a few rocks. This beach is not watched,
so use caution. For advanced riders only.
- Praia Grande : side-on-shore wind, more "on"
than "side". Wide beach where you may meet occasional swimmers
in summer. A few big rocks easy to locate. The waves and shore break can
be really strong, so use caution, even if that beach is watched. For motivated
and expert riders.
- Calhau : port side-off-shore wind, rocks, very
few patches of sand. Occasionally beautiful waves that finish their run
on the rocks. This beach is watched. For motivated experts!
- Sandy Beach, Topim, Praia de Palha
Carga (or Topona) and all the South-Est coast : off-shore wind,
for the waves' addicts. Those beaches are not watched and remote. Don't
go out in the water alone! For motivated and expert riders !
- Baía São Pedro : close to the
airport. Straight off-shore, the wind is accelerated by an additional
5 to 15 knots thanks to a venturi effect resulting on the passing through
a natural mountain corridor. There is also the presence of strong currents.
Safety boat mandatory for riders or you will end up drifting somewhere
in between Africa and America in no time in case of problems For
the speed freaks. All the others please don't ride there.
Our residence is equipped with batidas (200 liters barrels) to
rinse the gear and has space for it to dry.
The Salamansa, Baía das Gatas and Calhau spots
are fairly easily reachable by public transportation. Alugers (very
cheap minibus) leave from the Praça Estrela (square of the
stars) located 15 minutes walking away from the residence. There is a
start as soon as the minibus is full!
The Norte Baía and Praia Grande spots are also reachable
by the same mean but you will need an additional half-an-hour walk after
the minibus stop to get to the beach
To get to the spots located to the South/Southd-Est coast (mainly
surf) there are no other means that car rental or taxi or walking
(but be aware that the nearest, Sandy Beach, is 4 kilometers away
from the road.) You can try to negotiate the fare of the taxi. A two-ways
trip will cost you 30 €uros at the cheapest. Agree of a return pick-up
time with the driver on the way in so that he can drive you back to town
later in the day.
São Vicente offers nice waves for beginners to advanced surfers.
The spots are :
- Norte Baía : waves are not far from the sandy beach thus
easily accessible. The biggest I ever saw was two meters, but it is rare.
Usually waves are just less than 1 meter. There is a little current, a
few rocks, but unless losing your board there is no serious dangers.
This beach is not watched. For beginners to intermediate.
- Praia Grande : waves a little similar to Norte
Baía but bigger. The beach is large, mostly sandy and you might
meet swimmers. A few rocks, easy to locate. This beach is watched. For
intermediate to advanced.
- Calhau : reef wave, sometimes quite nice but
finishing on the reefs This beach is watched. For advanced and motivated
- Sandy Beach, Topim, Praia de Palha
Carga (or Topona) and all the South-Est coast : the
most beautiful waves of the island, mostly reef but also sandy. Spots
are to be explored all along the coastline (4WD mandatory!) Those beaches
are not watched. For advanced surfers.
To find out how to get to the spots please refer to
the end Kite/Windsurf section above.
Here is a (non exhaustive) list of possible hikes :
- Monte Verde,
- Santa Luzia de Terra,
- Mato Inglès,
- Palha Carga,
- Joao d'Evora,
- Monte Cara,
- Calheta Grande,
- Praia Grande-Norte Baia.
Those treks can be rated "General Public". Nevertheless keep
in mind the usual risks and hazards associated with wilderness trekking.
In particular appropriate precautions shall be taken to protect from the
heat. Plan to bring sufficient quantity of water, solar cream and to wear
hats and proper trekking shoes.
Don't miss an opportunity to visit this island! Of course,
there is the Estrada Corda, the winding road that links the Porto
Novo harbor to the North part of the island. It winds up and down through
the mountain, passing in the middle of quite impressive precipices during
the one hour that lasts the trip. But unless you suffer from vertigo you
won't regret it as you will drive through breathtaking scenery! In addition
the inhabitants are for the most part charming and genuine.
The Armas boat proposes two rotations a day during week days, only
one on Sundays. The Porto Grande harbor in Mindelo is a mere 10
minutes' walk from our residence. Once you crossed the channel and arrived
at the Porto Novo harbor, don't be impressed by the stir made by
all the people and vehicles there. Pick a comfortable Aluguer (minibus)
without worrying about the price as there is no need to compare or haggle:
they are all at the exact same rate and none will accept to put its price
The most beautiful hiking trails are located in the
Northern part of the island. The best locations to spend a night for hikers
are the cities of Ponta do Sol and Paúl. Ribeira
Grande, the administrative capital, is another alternative but the
town is not as pleasant as the two others.
In Santo Antão treks are rated from "average" to "expert"
levels. A good guide is the "Guia dos Circuitos Turisticos Santo
Antão" published by the Luxembourg Cooperation. You can find
this book in Ribeira Grande, ask around
Here are two classical hikes, both beautiful, awesome and for which you
don't necessarily need a guide:
- Cova crater (on the Corda road) -> Paúl :10
kilometers, 4 hours average, fairly easy, "average" level;
- Cruzinha -> Ponta do Sol : 11 kilometers, 4 ½
hours average, follows the coastline, a bit more difficult than the previous
one, especially towards the end. If you decide to go alone make sure to
inform somebody of your planned arrival time beforehand as you may not
meet many souls.
Need a guide? You won't have any problems to
find "tour guides" who will offer their services. All are not
professional guides, far from it but some of them are, most working
with European agencies that you can therefore contact before your departure.
If you haven't contacted anybody and still want to go off the beaten tracks
to discover unknown landscapes in complete safety, we recommend you to contact
the No Bai agency http://www.cap-vert-trekking.com.
A diving center, Dive Tribe, is located at the Foya Branca hotel, in São Pedro on the island of São Vicente.
Their contact: +238 958 8233.
They also have an office at the Sport Fishing Club in Mindelo (close from the ferry departure). Their contact: +238 982 9498.
They can oganize dives on the island of Santo Antão too.
Their website: http://www.dive-tribe.com.
On board of his powerful "Nha Crêtcheu"
boat, Didier Jeanne and his team will offer you unforgettable fishing
trips or more simple cruises to discover nearby islands or islets. All
information available on his website http://www.pechesportivecapvert.com.
The small tourist office in Punt d'Agua (just nearby the marina of Mindelo) provides traditional and electric bikes. Hourly
or daily rental.
Contact: Djambai Tours - firstname.lastname@example.org - +238 588 0624.
In Santo Antão, Alain, from Casa Espongeiro (located at the village of the same name), rents mountain bikes.
Expect 2,500 Escudos (about 23 €uros) per day including equipment. Contact Alain at +238 981 15 26.
The Club Hipico Mindelo, small equestrian center located at the exit of Mindelo on the road to the airport, offers excursions
on the island of São Vicente (including beaches). Price is 18 euros for the first hour (2,000 escudos) / 13.50 euros (1,500 escudos) for
children (from 5 years old), then 9 euros (1,000 escudos) per additional hour.
Contact: ask for "Cleutson" at +238 978 9601.