Idyllic beaches, white sand dunes and small oases. That is the island of Boavista. The Cape Verde island has the ideal conditions for a wonderfully relaxing beach and water sports holiday. Take amazin walks on the endless beaches, dunes and desert oases of Boavista. Or go wind or kite surfing on the azure blue sea. Take a dive to one of the shipwrecks or go see turtles and whales. Or just enjoy the sun on the white beach and the luxury at the hotel resort.
Want to know more about Boavista?
On this page you can read everything about Boavista. Get the most out of your holiday with this information.
- Interesting sights Boavista
- Other places on Boavista
- Food & drinks
- Where to stay on Boavista?
- Best travel time
- Transportation and getting around
- Frequently asked questions
Boavista or Boa Vista (meaning: beautiful view) is the Cape Verde island closest to the African mainland. Senegal is about 450 kilometers from Boavista. Boavista is the third largest island in Cape Verde and is located about 50 kilometers from the island Sal. It was discovered by the Portuguese in 1460 and its capital is Sal Rei.
The almost flat island has no less than 55 kilometers of white sandy beaches and is known for its white beaches with small oases with palm trees such as in the Sahara. There is not much greenery on the island. There are no real tourist resorts (yet). To get an idea of what Boavista looks like, you can watch the video on the page ‘Boavista at a glance‘. Great to get into a holiday mood.
Interesting sights Boavista
Boavista is famous for its beautiful wide beaches. Miles of white sandy beach, mostly unspoilt. The beaches are public and you can enjoy the sun and the clear blue sea water. There is a very good chance that you will also spot a turtle. Or in the season, for example, see a whale swimming in the distance.
A well-known beach is Praia de Santa Monica. It is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It is about 16 kilometers long. The amenities at Praia de Santa Monica are very minimal. There may be some higher waves. This beach continues on into Praia de Lacacao, another beautiful beach. If you want to surf, it is best to go to the beach of Curral Velho.
Most accommodations are located along the beach of Chaves. Praia de Chaves is a beautiful beach about 10 kilometers long, but be careful when swimming here when the waves are high. If conditions prohibit swimming here, luckily there are plenty of other options on the island where you can. Beaches with some shade can be found in the southwest of Boavista, for example. At Praia Verdandinha you have a beautiful sandy beach with some rocks and nice small caves. If you are near Sal Rei and want to take a refreshing dip, go to Praia da Cruz.
You can experience the feeling of the Sahara desert on Boavista. The trade winds take sand from the Sahara and some of it ends up on Boavista, which is how the Viana desert was formed on Boavista. The desert encompasses a large part of the island and consists of hills of fine and white sand. These form a chain as far as you can see. It is of pristine beauty. The Viana desert is special and therefore also belongs to the seven natural wonders of the Cape Verde Islands. It is a place to see and it gives you a unique experience.
Shipwreck Cabo de Santa Maria
A shipwreck off the enchanting coast near Praia de Atlanta. And that only 25 meters from the shoreline. The shipwreck Cabo Santa Maria was a Spanish cargo ship that has been off the coast for over 50 years now. The rusting ship is a symbol for Boavista and it looks impressive. The very close location to the beach and the white sand dunes behind it makes for a great photo opportunity.
With the drought and many sand dunes, it is unique to have one of the largest wetlands of Macaronesia (all volcanic islands immediately west of Africa). This unique ecosystem is home to many special birds that come from Europe or West Africa. A beautiful wetland area is around the ruins of Curral Velho located on the southern coast of Boavista. Another beautiful wetland area is at the Rabil lagoon. Especially in winter these are very good places to spot many special birds.
Boavista is a very good place for whale watching and to see dolphins. One of the best places to see whales is at Santa Monica Beach or Sal Rei Bay. The giant mammal regularly selects these locations to give birth to their young. The Humpback whale arrives in the sea off Boavista in December. However, the best time to see a whale is March through June, when the native Humpback whales reside in shallower waters. There are excursions/tours to see these giant giants up close swimming and playing in the water with a small group of people. All according to strict rules so as not to disturb the whales.
Boavista is one of the most important places in the world where the Caretta Caretta turtles lay their eggs. Thousands of turtles nest on Boavista mainly on the east coast of the island. From mid-June to the end of October, the turtles come onto the beach to lay eggs. Between the end of August and December the young turtles are born and they return to the sea. Seeing a turtle is almost guaranteed with over 20,000 nests.
The main breeding areas are around the northwest coast of Boavista. On the beach of Praia de Ervatao and Sal Ral, many sea turtles come onto the beach to lay their eggs.
Diving and snorkeling
Diving is possible in one of the many reefs. What is special is that during the dive you can view the calm and harmless nurse shark. These can be up to 2 meters long. In addition to the many fish, turtles also swim by. For snorkelers, the coral reef at Praia das Gatas is a great spot. In the summer it is even possible that you also encounter the nurse shark and sometimes dolphins swim here too.
Surfing and kiting
The conditions are perfect for surfing on Boavista. The experienced (kite) surfer can go almost anywhere on Boavista. With different conditions, the island offers sufficient challenge for the experienced surfer. Beginning surfers should stay near Sal Rei. The surf spots we like are: Baia Varandinha, Sal Rei, Cabral, Chaves, Curral Velho and the east coast of the island (out of turtle season only). Equipment for surfing and kite surfing is easily available through various rental companies. In the east near the lighthouse you can also relax in a natural pool.
Other places on Boavista
On Boavista there are many small ancient villages / hamlets that have maintained their bright and colourful character, often located in the north and east of the island. Some of these offer total tranquility, deserted areas and beaches. Some other interesting places on Boavista are:
The charming capital of Boavista where the locals enjoy life. They have a drink in the shade at the beach, children play in the sand, the fishermen paint their colourful boats. Sal Rei has not been overrun by tourists and has retained its authentic atmosphere with coloured houses. It is not big, but nice to see. You will find a pleasant square, cozy streets with shops, a buzzing market with fruit and vegetables, an old Portuguese fortress and a pier on the coast with some beaches for a picnic.
Dunas de Chaves
A series of accommodations are located around the beach of Chaves. Previously, this beach was only surrounded by white sand dunes and the blue water of the sea. From the highest sand dunes you have a magnificent view over the area. The dunes can be found south of Praia de Chaves.
Salt extraction has brought Boavista some prosperity in the past. You can still partly admire the colourful salt pans a few kilometers north of Sal Rei.
Excursions to other islands
The Boavista International Airport makes that a (day) excursion to another island from Cape Verde is fine to do.
Food & drinks
There is always something to do around the large squares in Sal Rei. From live music outside or in a cafe, to fun parties on the beach. Do not forget to visit one of the nice bustling beach bars. Enjoy a drink with your feet in the sand and a beautiful view over the sea. A nice beach bar is for example Morabeza (Praia da Estoril) where you can also have a bite to eat. If you want to dance the night away, take a look at the Boavista Social Club. Nice restaurants can be found everywhere. Local specialties are the fresh fish and botchada (goat/sheep stomach).
Where to stay on Boavista?
With the exception of the all-inclusive hotels, most accommodations can be found in and around the town of Sal Rei. Here you can also find most amenities within walking distance. We can recommend, among others, hotel – Appartment Estoril. Larger resorts are Royal Horizon Boavista, Riu Karamboa and Riu Touareg. Excellent hotels to celebrate your holiday.
Best travel time
The subtropical climate ensures a pleasant weather with lots of sunshine and in late summer there is only a small amount of precipitation on the island. The wind generally comes from the north or east, the coasts on this side are less suitable for a day on the beach because of the drifting sand. You will therefore mainly find accommodations on the west side of the island. In January and February, the wind often changes and takes sand from the Sahara through the air. The temperature on Boavista is between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius. In the winter months the wind is strongest, ideal if you want to go surfing or kiting. If you want to know more about the weather and climate in Cape Verde, view the extensive overview with the weather in Cape Verde.
Transportation and getting around
There are flights from several international airports to Boavista. Some airlines sometimes make a stopover on the islands Sal or Santiago. Boavista International Airport (BVC) is located in the town of Rabil. The airport has a bank, ATM, some shops and catering facilities. There are plenty of taxis available and the journey to Sal Rei or Praia de Chaves is only about 6 kilometers, so a short ride. A taxi to Sal Rei costs approximately 7 – 10 euros. You can travel even cheaper with an aluguer (local bus), but there is a longer waiting time. Some domestic flights also depart from Boavista. For all current flight information, view the page with airline tickets.
For transport on the island you can use the aluguer. These are very frequent between Sal Rei and Rabil. Would you rather be less dependent, there are plenty of options to rent a car or else take a taxi.
Some frequently asked questions
The weather forecasts are almost always good, making the island easy to travel all year round. The average temperature is between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius and the chance of rain is very small. In summer the water temperature can reach up to 30 degrees Celsius.
Yes, for sure! There are places where there can be high waves and currents. In the areas where most tourists come, lifeguards and signal flags are present. There are also a number of places where the sea is almost always very calm. This is at Estoril Beach (near Sal Rei). Here the waves are stopped by a small island. Ideal! Another option is Praia da Cruz, for example.
There are no fewer than 30 beaches on Boavista. In total there is about 55 kilometers of pristine fine sandy beach on the island. The most famous beach is that of Santa Monica. Boavista has the widest beaches of all the islands of the Cape Verde archipelago.