São Vicente – ilha mítica


São Vicente,  Son Sent in Cape Verdean Creole, is one of the Barlavento islands.  It is located between the islands of Santo Antão and Santa Luzia, with the Canal de São Vicente separating it from Santo Antão.

It’s an island of contrasts where you can breathe a vey unusual and unique atmosphere.  The streets of the capital Mindelo are happily adorned with colonial and European architecture as well as by the cosmopolitanism that hovers in the air.


The island is also the site of beautiful beaches of clear warm water, namely Salamansa, Baia das Gatas, Praia Grande and São Pedro, for lovers of water sports.

With a rich musical tradition, Mindelo is considered the cultural capital of the country, offering the visitors good restaurants where you can enjoy rich cuisine to the sound of beautiful mornas and coladeiras.  Tip: don’t expect too much going on from Mondays till Thursdays; the nightlife happens mainly during the weekends and starts after midnight.


The island is roughly rectangular in shape with a surface area of ca. 227 km2 (88 sq mi).

From east to west it measures 24 km (15 mi) and from north to south no more than 16 km (9.9 mi). The terrain includes mountains in the west, the southwest, the south, the east-central and the north. The urban area of Mindelo is in the northern part.



Although volcanic in origin, the island is quite flat. Its highest point is Monte Verde (Portuguese for green mountain) located in the northeast-central part with an altitude of 725 metres (2,379 ft).




The city Mindelo


Set around a moon-shaped port and ringed by barren mountains, Mindelo is Cape Verde’s answer to the Riviera, complete with cobblestone streets, candy-coloured colonial buildings and yachts bobbing in a peaceful harbour.


Safely around a bend is the country’s deepest industrial port, which in the late 19th century was a key coaling station for British ships and remains the source of the city’s relative prosperity.

Today, its prominence in Cape Verdean culture remains: it produces more than its fair share of the islands’ poets, musicians, stylish bars and modern disco’s.

Mindelo is the party city of Cape Verde with the town square Praça Nova and the labyrinth of side streets as the focal points. Live music is played in many restaurants.

On Sundays the city is absolutely dead and all shops are closed.  Perfect to escape the city and visit the beaches of Baia das Gatas, Calhau, Salamansa or São Pedro!  Because that’s where everybody is on Sundays.


Interested to do a city tour with one of our enthousiastic guides who bring you to the hidden artist ateliers or show you the ‘other’ side of Mindelo?  Visit our Tourist Information office on the Pont d’Agua complex in the city center.  3 hour tours from €18 p.p., some with a typical lunch included.


Mindelo is also the birthplace of the celebrated singer Cesária Évora, Cape Verde’s most famous citizen, who died in december 2011 here in Mindelo.

You find many churches, a post office, a few banks, shops, a hospital named Baptista de Sousa and squares (praças).










Fortim d’El Rei

Fort built in the 19th century, on the highest side of the city of Mindelo, with a fantastic view of the city and the bay.


Praça Nova

Also called Praça Amilcar Cabral, built by the British in 1894. It’s a very lively square in the evenings. On Sunday evenings, live music is played.

On Praça Nova you also find the Museum of Traditional Art.


Torre de Belém

It’s a replica of the Belem Tower, a monument located at the entry of the bedstead of Lisbon. Inside you can visit an art exhibition.


National Arts & Crafts Centre (Centro Nacional de Artesanato)

Dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. It was the first Highschool of São Vicente.


Municipal Market

The 19th century building underwent restauration work and enlargement. You can buy a variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs and other products on this colorful market.










How to get to São Vicente?

Flying to Cape Verde isn’t always expensive.  In low season you can fly from Brussels to the island Sal for €150 one way (www.jetairfly.com).  An additional 1 hour- flight with TACV takes you to  São Vicente (VXE or International Airport Cesaria Evora).

Several German airports have connections to Sal (www.tuifly.com).

Also check www.transavia.com for direct flights to São Vicente.

TACV organises direct flights to São Vicente from Amsterdam – Paris – Lisbon – Boston.

TACV- flights can’t be booked at local prices on the internet yet.

Don’t hesitate to ask for more information about the time schedules and prices: info@cabocontact.com



Where to stay?

São Vicente offers a big choice of B&B’s and hotels, from budget to luxury.  Keep in mind that booking your accomodation is always a good idea, especially in the touristic season from October to April. 


Hotel Gaudi


High class B&B’s:

Casa Colonial




Holiday apartments & studio’s


Luxury hotels:

Pousada Monte Cara


Luxury resort:

Foya Branca resort 



You can find traditional restaurants as well as restaurants who offer a mixture of Italian/French/Spanish – creole cuisine.

Catchupa, a stew of beans, is very popular and healthy and all pubs and restaurants have it.  You can eat marvellous fresh fish (peixe), chicken (frango) and steak (carne de vaca) everywhere on the island.

In the restaurants you will find local wine from the island Fogo as well as French and Italian wines.

Check the topic ‘going out’ to find the best restaurants.

Tips: Restaurant L’Escale and Bistro Sto. André


Hospitals and healthcare centers

Delegaçia de Saúde de São Vicente tel. 232 85 28

Hospital Baptista de Sousa tel. 231 18 79

Medicentro – private clinic



São Vicente was discovered on Saint Vincent‘s Day (January 22) in 1462. Due to its lack of water, the island was initially used only as a cattle pasture by some proprietors of the neighboring island of Santo Antão.

The island remained practically uninhabited until the middle of the 19th century. It was only in 1838, when a coal deposit was established in Porto Grande to supply ships on Atlantic outes, that the population started to grow rapidly.




The majority of the population are young; 66% of the population are under the age of 30, and 8.6% of the population are over the age of 60.  56% of the families live in houses, the other 30% live in poorly-built houses.




The economy of the island was always based almost exclusively on commerce and services. Due to lack of rain, agriculture is at a subsistence level. Fishing has some relevance, but conditions prevent it from being more important, not only for the catch — lobster — but also for the associated industries: conserves, drying and salting of fish, and naval construction.

Porto Grande is the main port of Cape Verde. It has a terminal of containers, silos, and refrigeration units that make handling load overflow possible. There is also a modern seawater desalination plant, which provides water for public consumption and for naval shipyards.

In recent years, the National Center of Workmanship of Mindelo supports local craftsmen in the production and commercialization of ceramic parts, articles made of coconut rinds, and necklaces of shells and rocks.




São Vicente has a great tradition in sports. From here many sports have spread to the remaining islands. Surfing, for example, relies on the excellent conditions here. The beach of São Pedro is considered one of the best for windsurfing, as shown by the many world-class champions of the sport. Kitesurfing is popular as well in São Vicente.  Cycling, walking trails and horseback riding are good ways to explore the island. The English influence on the island is still recognizable today in the golf: São Vicente has an 18-hole golf course.

For these reasons, tourism has excellent growth potential on São Vicente and in the rest of the Cape Verde archipelago.

Watersports specialist in São Vicente: Sabura Adventures



Other than Portuguese which is the primary language, Cape Verdean Creole is mainly spoken by the majority of the population. The São Vicente variant is known as Crioulo de São Vicente (in Portuguese) or Kriol d Sonsent (in Creole).



The island is connected with four major roads:

  • Mindelo – São Pedro

  • Mindelo – Calhau

  • Mindelo – Baia das Gatas

  • Calhau – Baia das Gatas



São Vicente is the cultural island of Cape Verde.  You find live music everywhere.  You should also visit the little ateliers of local artist, where souvenirs and other beautiful objects are manufactured.