Island of Boa Vista - Cape Verde
Like the island of Sal and Maio, the Cape Verde island of Boa Vista has vast areas of barren land, but its sandy beaches extend much further than those on Sal.
A trip to Boavista 4th to 6th October 2010
Sal Rei hasn't changed much since my last visit. A number of small development projects remain unfinished and a few that have been completed.
15min or so flight from Sal, special offer with Halcyon Air return flight for 60euros (Thur and Sat). There were a few other offers but this was the most suitable for me on these dates. I must arrive at airport 90mins before flight departure, departure on Thur at 8a.m., up at airport at 6.30a.m. for check in. Issued with my flight ticket seat 4E. Got on the flight and realised the seating was A-D (No.E)...if it had been anywhere else in the world I may have thought I had got on the wrong plane!
Leaving the airport in a taxi, which cost 500cve to take you into Sal Rei, a bit more if you were traveling to Praia Cabral just on the other side of Sal Rei. Sal Rei is only 8-10 mins from the airport.
I had organised a stay at a Pension that had about 6 rooms. My room was on the first floor and the number on the door was 205.........there is logic to it I am told....... anything on the 1st floor is 2nd level and start with the number 2, my room must have been number 05 = 205. The room was quite large, simple with a small en-suite, suitable for my needs for two nights at 2.200 a night with breakfast. Breakfast was banana, yoghurt, bread and jam or a slice of cake, with juice and very strong coffee.
The sounds from outside at night included the normal barking of dogs and on one occasion a lovely looking horse decided to neigh outside the building then take refuge next to the bins just around the corner. The sounds during the day were the general street noise of vehicles and wagons passing by between Praia Cabral and Sal Rei but also as I arrived I was informed that they were working on the two stories above so there was a lot of banging from 8a.m. till 3p.m. The proprietor of the hotel only speaks Creole, she doesn't need to speak any other language and so I was pleased to be able to practice the words I knew of Creole/Portuguese, as on Sal I don't practice it enough.
The first day I spent getting my bearings, which isn't hard. I walked into the square and to the pontao and around to the Port, which is being expanded. The square is still the same, only a few more businesses since the last time I visited there. There is lots of potential for the square but whether businesses will succeed there I do not know. There are quad bikes, car rentals, tours and trips and much more. There are a few Chinese lojas and a few restaurants, one which I visited being the Blue Marlin, a very small and narrow bar and restaurant on the square with only four or five tables. They still didn't have menu's so it was unclear what the prices were, but a small toasted cheese and ham sandwich with tango or bottle water was 200cve, whilst I paid 1050cve for a starter of goats cheese and a main meal of pork, rice, fried potatoes with salad (no drink).
The pork was lovely even though it wasn't pork but I couldn't be bothered telling them that (as I thought they already knew). It was actually goat, having eaten goat many times in the UK as it a popular meal with some Asian cultures, a goat curry is very nice indeed (sorry veggies). The meal was very nice and the meat of the goat is extremely nice.
I looked around for some places I had been told to visit to get information on their services or facilities I was also there to develop the Wedding Services so there was little time to linger. However, that first day I also headed out to Estoril Beach where I came across a bar/restaurant situated on the beach which had some sun beds outside. I bought a drink, went for a kip dip in the ocean, took loads of photos and dried off in the sun on a sun bed for an hour......that was my only relaxation to myself. Having introduced myself to the proprietor and swapping business contact details, I headed back to the square. The night time was spent meeting some people after they had finished work followed by a quick beer on the way back to room. Pics uploaded and some reduced ready for loading onto website.
Next day found a very good internet cafe, open from 9a.m. to 9p.m. charging 240cve an hour, more if downloading and using skype etc. They even let you use your own laptops, just what I needed. They have printing facilities too. If anyone is looking for it, it's in the street opposite Padaria Boavista and the name outside is ICBV, the proprietors are there from about 3.30p.m. and they speak English; the person there in the morning doesn't speak English.
Friday 5th I decided I needed to hire a car as it would have been quite costly using taxis and looking for places I needed to find on foot would be tiresome, hot, time consuming and make my feet hurt more than they already did walking up cobbled streets in flip flops.
If you need to get money out of the bank make sure you have your passport and bank details or card with you. Banks close for 3p.m. on Friday until 8a.m. Monday morning so then you definitely need a bank card for the machine.
I hired a 4 wheel drive for 5.000cve for 24hr use. The Car Hire business I used closes between 12.30 to 4p.m. then re-opens until 7p.m. so you have to pick up and drop off during opening times. They also close for the day from 12.30p.m. on Saturday and re-open Monday morning at 9a.m.
With the help of a friend on the island I managed to find a few more places, soon to be included in a new booklet being produced for Boavista for bars, restaurants, hotels (non AI's) with a Tourist Information centre too. A similar one has already been produced for the island of Sal, an updated version due to be finalised this month.
I had a beer at the Wakan Bar a small cafe/bar positioned in the middle of the road near the port, I had a beef burger with cheese, onion and mayonnaise with a beer for 500cve. The beef burger was very nice, so was the cold beer as I sat and watched the sun setting.
If I go to stay in other accommodation on the islands I must remember: Mosquito lotion, mosquito plug in and mosquito tablets, ear plugs! As well as all the other bumph and English adaptors, and some Tetley tea bags.
Some of the restaurants are not open during the day and one very nice bar A Lua Maluca is only open during the evenings over the weekend. Most of the Cape Verdean/Italian business's close lunch times on Saturday and re-open on Monday so not much to do or see there on the afternoon in Sal Rei.
I didn't have time to do the tour, this was a business trip. The island is a lot bigger than Sal, but has less t do if visiting. However saying that it has some beautiful beaches.
On arriving on the island and exiting the airport building the sight of the Riu Karamboa in the distance is quite stunning, it's only about a klm away, or a five minute drive. The colour of the stone of the hotel mixed in extremely well with the sand dunes. I did manage to obtain some photos of the inside of the Riu Karamboa and was impressed with the layout. It was the busiest place on the island with people arriving/departing on international flights. The reception staff were on standby and well prepared to deal with 300 outgoing and 300 incoming passengers from each flight.
A very busy 3 days and now heading back to Sal.
First trip to Boavista Island
After living and working on Sal for one year I finally made my first from Sal to Boa Vista on 12th April 2007.
The day trip by flight on the Cabo Verde Express day excursion meant that we could take a look around the island just to get a feel for what it was like. Two friends made the trip with me.
Prior to the trip we had all agreed that perhaps the excursion would not meet our requirements, so we booked flight only. Our aim was to carry out a quick and brief reccee on property and developments that were being built on the island. We went armed with some information that we had gathered off the internet, Real Estate Agencies on Sal and some tourist information guides.
Our flight departed Sal at 7.15a.m.The 15min flight took us over the BV coastline of Cabral and Estoril beach areas. On arriving at the airport we hired a taxi to take us into Sal Rei. We were fortunate to have an ex-pat that lived on Boa Vista share the taxi with us and she provided us with more information about the island and also took us to a the cafe Atlantica/o? in Sal Rei where we had some breakfast. Our first appointment to view property was not until 9a.m. From then on, until 3p.m., we had the day to look around.
I must say that on arrival in Sal Rei I was pleasantly surprised. We entered the Square and found that it was probably about 3-4 times larger than the square in Santa Maria on Sal. Even though I had been told there were only a few restaurants shops in Sal Rei, there was a charm about the place that differed to my initial feeling of that when I walked up the main streets of Santa Maria for the first time in 2005. This may be down to the fact that I now have something real to compare.
One of the main streets into the Square was quite wide, so again this gave an additional feeling for space. The roads leading off the square were quite narrow, but they led to the typical back streets of local Cape Verdean houses that looked quaint. These streets reminded us of a mix of other towns and islands we had visited such as Mindelo on Sao Vicente and Praia on Santiago, but on a much smaller scale. Obviously, the further we moved out from the square the more developments or unfinished buildings we came across, but compared to Santa Maria there is less being built at the moment, but this will change. According to one local there is currently one bar and two disco's in the town.
It is quite apparent that the island is further behind Sal as regards infrastructure tourism. The Riu Hotel opened in 2008 and accomadates most of the islands holiday guests. The island doesn't have as many large hotels like those in Santa Maria n Sal Island, nor much of anything else, but it will come in time. It may be 5-10yrs behind Sal, depending on what you are comparing, but I too think that with the right investment and controls for building, that the island of Boa Vista will be a very nice place to visit as well as live or work in the foreseeable future. But it really depends on your vision and what you feel about the place. But like me, you won't know that until you have carried out your research and visited the island!
My initial visit was just for a 6hr trip during which time we managed to see various plots of land and areas approved for planning permission for different developments. We also saw some of the lovely beaches.
I have visited the island since then and it is growing on me.