Are you going to Boa Vista in Cape Verde? You probably wonder what you can do during your stay at the tropical island Boa Vista. We made this list of best things to do in Boa Vista so you can prepare for your next trip effortlessly.
Things To Do In Boa Vista
- Kite & Windsurfing
- Sea Turtle Spotting
- Whale Watching
- Scuba Diving
- Quad or Buggy Driving – Island Tour
- Guided Island Tour
- Barraca Guided Village Tour
- Visit Sal Rei (Main Village)
- Viana Desert
- Oasis of Rabil
- Praia de Atlanta (Shipwreck)
- Sailing Tour around the island
- Morro Negro Lighthouse
It’s a long list of great activities on Boa Vista. We spend 2,5 months traveling around the Cape Verde Islands, and also visited Boa Vista on our roundtrip. During our time at the island, I missed a complete guide with activities, the best places to go, and other useful information.
This article fills in that gap. It is a complete list of the best activities on the island, and how to book them. We’ll also tell you about the best places to stay, and the best time to visit Boa Vista. Let’s find out more!
Things To Do In Boa Vista
We selected 20 interesting activities on Boa Vista. The island is quite small, so you can easily combine different activities on the same day. It’s not like you’ll need at least 20 days for 20 activities. Seven to ten days would be a perfect length for a great holiday at Boa Vista.
Most activities have something to do with the beach, the sea, and life on the island. The largest ‘city’ at Boa Vista is Sal Rei, but that honestly feels more like a village and is a starting point for many activities.
1. Kite & Windsurfing
It is always windy in Boa Vista. The trade winds, mostly coming from the African mainland, create perfect conditions on the island for watersports. The best period for Kite & windsurfing is between October and June. These months are known as ‘the windy season.’
Between July and September, it is less windy. This period is better for normal surfing (big wave surf) and learning the basics of Kite or windsurfing.
Boa Vista has the longest coastline in Cape Verde, and you’ll find many surf spots along this coastline. Each surf spot has different qualities, and depending on your skill level, you can decide where to go. When you travel around the island to go to a surf spot, you probably better off using a quad bike or 4×4 car. Most roads on the island are unpaved roads, so its easier to get around that way. I’ll tell you later more on how to get around the island.
The best surf spots in Boa Vista are:
- Ponta Antonia
- Santa Maria
- Praia do Estoril
- Bahia Beach (Praia Carlota)
- Hotel Ria Karamboa (Praia das Dunas)
- Praia das Chaves (Irebostar Hotels)
- Praia de Santa Monica (longest beach in Cape Verde)
In our article Best Surf Spots in Boa Vista Cape Verde, you’ll find more detailed information about these surf spots.
2. Sea Turtle Spotting
Boa Vista is one of the crucial locations in the world for the Caretta caretta turtles to nest. Florida and Oman are other places that complete the ‘top-3’.
The turtles come to the beach during night time to lay their eggs. Between July and October is the nesting season for the turtles. Most turtles spotted during August. So turtle spotting at Boa Vista is a seasonal activity.
It is a unique experience to see these beautiful creatures searching for a place to nest and lay their eggs — a delicate process. With the slightest disturbance, they can decide not to lay their eggs. Just a noise, too much wind or light can have them choose to go back into the sea and search for a different place.
A turtle watching tour takes up to 4 to 5 hours. Often you’ll be picked up at your hotel between 7 and 8 p.m.
Depending on how quickly you’ll spot the turtles, the expected return is around 1 a.m.
The best way to spot the turtles is by a guided tour. There are many tour guides available in Boa Vista. You can easily ask around at your hotel or in the village Sal Rei. We recommend booking your tours in Boa Vista via our Dutch friends from SolaCyber. They are independent tour guides on the island. They use the most significant part of their revenue to help the local community on the island.
3. Whale Watching at Boa Vista
Humpback whales are one of the biggest mammals alive. They come to the shallow waters around Boa Vista to mate and have their young. The shallow bay and warm water temperatures are the ideal environments for these mammals. A grown humpback whale can be up to 15 meters long!
Annually as early as December, the first whales are spotted around the island. However, most whales coming to the waters around Boa Vista between March and May.
There are a few guided tours you can book on the island to go whale watching. Most companies work with a marine biologist on their ship who can explain more about the mating period, where the whales are coming from, and how they survive in these relatively shallow waters.
You can easily book a tour via your hotel or accommodation on the island. Most tours depart in the morning or around noon and take up to 4 hours.
Did you know Cape Verde is in the top 10 list of most beautiful coral in the world? Many ‘reefs’ are artificial, but still, you can find stunning places with beautiful colors underwater. And the best thing, there’s a lot of marine life going on! It is also possible to encounter the occasional shark while snorkeling. But don’t worry, sharks around the islands of Boa Vista and Sal are not dangerous for humans. Most sharks are ‘lemon sharks,’ and are like the vegetarian version of a shark!
The best snorkeling beach at Boa Vista is Praia das Gatas, located on the north-east side of the island. A beautiful spot with lots of coral and marine life. Snorkeling in this bay is only possible during high-tide. When it’s low-tide, the water is to shallow to go snorkeling.
It’s not allowed to use fins while snorkeling in Praia Das Gatas, to prevent damaging the coral. The sea and currents can be a bit rough at certain times in this bay. Depending on the weather conditions and time of the year. I would recommend going snorkeling at Praia Das Gatas with a guided tour. You can easily book a tour at your hotel, including transport and equipment.
When you have experience in snorkeling, we still recommend going to Praia Das Gatas, with a guided tour, or at least with a buddy. It is a safe place to go, but because of the secluded location and often changing sea conditions, it is better to go with a guided tour.
Did you know the island SAL is also great for snorkeling and Scuba Diving? You can find out more in our article Best Things to Do in Sal
5. Scuba Diving
An activity that you’ll always do with a buddy is scuba diving. Knowing that Boa Vista has one of the best corals and underwater life there is, making the island perfect for scuba diving.
Scuba Diving in Boa Vista is not possible year-round. The best time to go is between April and November. Between December and March, the water conditions are changing a lot, and the sea is too rough for safe scuba diving.
However, during the scuba diving seasons, you’ll have the chance at excellent scuba diving experiences. It is the season when humpback whales coming to the waters around the island to mate and have their young. So don’t be surprised when you encounter a curious humpback whale during your diving session!
When you’re an inexperienced diver or want to learn scuba diving, you can book a course via your hotel. The most recommended company that also works with the largest hotels is ScubaCaribe. It is possible to get a PADI certified diving certificate in Boa Vista.
6. Quad or Buggy Driving – Island Tour
Boa Vista has basically one main asphalt road and a few cobblestone roads. All the other roads on the island are dirt roads. You can only drive around these roads with a quad or four-wheel drive.
Driving a quad or buggy at Boa Vista is easy and safe. You’ll find many companies renting quad bikes, and you can also easily rent a quad bike via your hotel or accommodation. Almost all the quadbikes and buggies have an automatic transmission, so you don’t need to be an experienced driver to go on a tour. You can only rent a quad when your at least 18 years old and have a valid driver’s license.
There are several guided quad tours available, which you can easily book via your hotel. You can also just rent a quad bike and go on an island exploring adventure for yourself. Either way, I would advise bringing enough sunscreen, water, and a bandana or something you can use as protection when you’re driving through dusty roads.
We experienced that this activity is one of the most popular activities on the island, so its best to book this a day in advance via your hotel. This way, you’ll secure your spot at a guided tour and/or a rental quad bike!
The several guided tours that are most common are a Full Island Tour, Viana Desert Tour, or Santa Monica Beach Tour.
7. Guided Island Tour
You probably already know that Boa Vista is not only a perfect sunny holiday destination but also the island with several natural wonders. It has a unique landscape, and you can, of course, explore the island on your own. But it is even more fun while exploring with a guided island tour.
You’ll learn about the island’s history. How the Viana Desert was created (a completely natural extension of the Sahara Desert!), details about the Oasis of Rabil, Santa Monica Beach, and much more!
Many island tours depart from the different large hotels on the island and take up to a half-day of exploring. Most trips are by a four-wheel-drive jeep and including a local lunch (depending on the tour company). Ask at your hotel about the possibilities for a guided island tour.
Did you know that Cape Verde consists out of 10 different islands, from which 9 are inhabited? And that for a long time, the archipelago was a Portuguese colony? That’s why the original spoken language on the islands is Portuguese. You can find out more interesting facts about Cape Verde in our article What is Cape Verde Famous For.
8. Barraca Guided Village Tour
This tour is a must-do when you’re in Boa Vista. The local community is poor and completely dependent on tourism. The large tourism companies are providing jobs and a steady income for the locals, but it is slightly enough to live a normal life.
Barraca is like the largest village on the island where the locals live. It’s kind of African Township. People live in small houses, often with no electricity or other things we find ‘standard.’ It is an entirely different world then the luxury hotels you’ll find at the other side of the island. However, the vibe is unique. People are friendly. Live in Barraca is a close community where people look out after each other. We went on a tour with SolaCyber. Our Dutch friends we told you earlier about.
When you go on a Baracca tour, make sure booking your trip with SolaCyber. Their revenue is used to help the local community. You can also help them by asking if they need specific things like clothes or school supplies.
9. Visit Sal Rei (Main Village)
Sal Rei is the main village of Boa Vista. Some people even call it a city, but with only a few streets, it feels much more like a village. It is the central point of the island, where you’ll find the most shops, restaurants, and rental companies (quad rentals etcetera). The estimated population in Sal Rei is a bit over 5000 people. But that’s including the people living in the Barraca neighborhood.
Visiting Sal Rei is great for a day where you can explore the local market and enjoy some of the local restaurants and bars.
10. Viana Desert
There is a real desert on the island of Boa Vista. It is only 5 kilometers long and 1 kilometer wide. But still, it’s a real desert.
The trade winds from the African mainland, bringing a lot of Sahara sand with them. This sand is partly dropped on the island, and over the years, it created the Viana Desert.
The Viana Desert is a protected area. A Cape Verdean ‘national park’. Which means that it’s not allowed to drive motorized vehicles through the desert. There are a few designated areas where it is allowed to drive with a quad bike or buggy.
It’s a lunar landscape, with unique stonewalls, sand dunes, and black volcanic stones.
Visiting the Viana Desert is probably the easiest way to visit a desert in your life!
11. Oasis of Rabil
Just close to the Viana Desert, you’ll find a strip of green vegetation. Palm Trees, grasslands, and even a freshwater river! The Oasis of Rabil is even more unique than the Viana Desert if you know that it’s rarely raining at the island.
A unique visit that is easy to combine with a visit to the Viana Desert.
We visited both Viana Desert and Oasis of Rabil on our own. Which is easy to do. If you like, you can also visit both via a guided tour. When you decide to go alone or with a guided tour, make sure to bring water, sunscreen, and sunglasses.
If you go by yourself, you can jump on an aluguer, which is a local taxi, and ask if they drop you off at the beginning of the Viana Desert. From there, you can walk around the desert strip. If you want to go back, just walk towards the green oasis (which is the Oasis of Rabil). It is like a 1-hour walk to the small village of Rabil. When you’ve reached the town, you can take an aluguer back to your hotel or accommodation.
12. Praia de Atalanta – Shipwreck
The most famous tourist attraction in Boa Vista is the shipwreck, Praia de Atalanta. It is an old Spanish cargo ship that got stuck on September 1st, 1968.
You can just go up there and watch the shipwreck for yourself. It is completely rusted, and officially you’re not allowed to go in the water close to the ship. Which is probably not recommended either way, because it can be a bit tricky.
The shipwreck is one of the most photographed places in Boa Vista. Many island tours, quad tours stop at this place for people to take pictures.
13. Morro Negro Lighthouse
One of the most famous lighthouses in Cape Verde is Morro Negro Lighthouse, built-in 1930. The lighthouse is not in use today, and its a deserted place. However, the view from the top of the hill where the lighthouse is located is magnificent!
Did you know that Boa Vista means Beautiful View? It got this name after the Portuguese navigator Diogo Gomes got to the island and walked on top of a hill. So in a way, you can experience the same view as the old navigator did in the 15th century!
14. Stargazing in The Viana Desert
Because of the location of Boa Vista, and the fact that there isn’t much artificial light, it is a perfect place for stargazing.
A stargazing experience is best to do in the Viana Desert. The African nights will surprise you, and you can learn much more about how the navigators could find their way at sea by following the stars. During this tour, there are several telescopes and other useful equipment available to make the stargazing as convenient as possible.
The experience will be extra unique when it is a full moon because you’ll be able to see the moon up close using one of the telescopes!
You can easily book stargazing guided tour at your hotel. Most tours taking place on Wednesday and Saturday and are included a dinner in the desert!
15. Sailing Tour in the bay of Boa Vista
A perfect half-day trip is going on a sailing tour in the bay. Relaxing on a boat. Visiting Ilheu de Sal Rei, the small deserted island close to the shore. Spotting whales when it’s the whale season. And swimming in the crystal blue waters.
It is a perfect trip if you want to do something else than staying at the beach or driving around on a quadbike.
You’ll need to book a boat trip in advance, which you can easily do at your hotel or in the town Sal Rei. Salina Sails is one of the companies that offer sail trips around Boa Vista. All boat trips include finger food, drinks (prosecco), and local music. Transport from and to the hotel is also included in most tours.
Other Activities Boa Vista
There are many more things to do while in Boa Vista. You can just go and relax at one of the beaches for the whole day. Or visit the longest beach in Cape Verde, which is located in the southern point of Boa Vista.
Santa Monica is the longest beach and 22 kilometers long. Thinking of a relaxing day at the beach? You probably find the perfect spot at this beach!
The island is perfect for hiking. Boa Vista is relatively flat, and while going around the island, you’ll probably crossing many of the highlights like the Viana Desert and the famous lighthouse.
Best Time To Visit Boa Vista
Boa Vista is year-round, a great destination to go. All the islands of Cape Verde have a perfect year-round climate. The temperature in Boa Vista rarely gets below 68 Fahrenheit / 20 degrees Celsius (only at night time it can be a bit cooler sometimes). Somehow, sea temperatures are almost the same as the outside temperatures. So there’s almost no difference.
Between December and February, it can feel a bit cold, and you’ll probably walk around in a sweater on windy days.
The best time to visit Boa Vista would be between March and October.
These months are the best months with most sun hours and practically no rain. During the other months, it can rain sometimes, but that’s also rare.
Deciding on the best time for booking your trip to Boa Vista also depends on the activities you want to do when on the island.
If you want to go whale watching, I would recommend booking a trip during the whales season between March and May. When you’re eager to see the sea turtles lay their eggs, you’ll probably want to go in August.
Either way, you’ll have a great tropical holiday every time of the year in Boa Vista!
Cape Verde Travel Planning Guide
🚑 Should I buy travel insurance for Cape Verde?
100% YES! — With basic coverage averaging just $2 USD per day, enjoy peace of mind with a plan from Safety Wing, one of the biggest names in travel insurance.
💧Can you drink tap water in Cape Verde?
No — It is generally recommended to drink bottled water in Cape Verde. While tap water is generally safe for showering and brushing teeth, it may not be suitable for drinking. Bottled water is readily available and affordable throughout the country. Or you can buy a Water-To-Go Bottle, which filters your drinking water.
🚗 Is it safe to rent a car in Cape Verde?
Yes — Renting a car in Cape Verde is one of the best ways to see the islands. I always rent with Rentalcars, which checks international and local Cape Verdean companies, so you get the best rates.
🏩 What’s the best way to book places to stay in Cape Verde?
🛫 What’s the best site to buy Cape Verde flights?
⛵️ Where to book the best tours in Cape Verde?
For the best tours in Cape Verde, I highly recommend booking your trips at Get Your Guide.
🛂 Do I need a visa for Cape Verde?
Likely Not — U.S. and most European Passport holders don’t need a visa for Cape Verde. Most travelers will receive a 30-day tourist visa upon arrival.
😃 Which is the safest island of Cape Verde?
Santo Antão – Although all islands are safe to travel to, Santo Antão is the safest island of Cape Verde. It is known for “Morabeza,” a Creole word meaning very friendly Cape Verdean hospitality. In the capital Praia on the island of Santiago, you must be somewhat careful but not need paranoia.
🗣 Do they speak English in Cape Verde?
Yes – Most staff speak English, and some are multi-lingual. The official language of Cape Verde is Portuguese. The mother tongue of virtually all Cape Verdeans is Cape Verdean Creole. (Read more)
⭐️ What is the best time to visit Cape Verde?
The best time to visit Cape Verde is between November and June. The average day temperature is around 24°C (75°F), the sea temperature is 25°C, and there is almost no rain. Perfect for a white-sandy beach holiday. However, Cape Verde has many attractions and activities throughout the year:
- The best time to visit Cape Verde for Hiking: November & December
- The best time to visit Cape Verde for Snorkeling and Diving: July – December
- The best time to visit Cape Verde for Kitesurfing: December – March
- The best time to visit Cape Verde for Whale Watching: March-May
- The best time to visit Cape Verde for Turtle Spotting: Mid-July – October
- The best time to visit Cape Verde for Carnival: February/ March
Recommended Articles Cape Verde
You might be interested in reading some of our other articles about Cape Verde, so you can prepare more for your next tropical holiday!
After spending 10 weeks in the archipelago, we love to share our experiences about the different islands, the best places to go, and practical tips about the country. You can find a list of all articles about Cape Verde on the Cape Verde category page.
This article is a must-read for everyone who is going to visit Cape Verde. Even if you have been to the islands already this article can be interesting. I’ll share different historical facts about the republic Cabo Verde, which is the official name of the archipelago. Explain the meaning of Morabeza, the Cape Verdean way of life, and many other interesting facts about the islands!
I explained in this article that sometimes the sea and current can be rough or suddenly changing around Boa Vista. It’s why you always want to go to quiet places with a buddy. On some islands is not even possible to go swimming in the sea, because it is too dangerous. In this article, I’ll tell you about the places where you can and can’t go swimming in the sea in Cape Verde.
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