About São Vicente
São Vicente Cape Verde (Portuguese for “Saint Vincent”) is one of the Barlavento islands. It 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). Mountains and lovely beaches that are a magnet for windsurfers are a feature of this island.
São Vicente is in the west of the Cape Verde islands and is a stepping-stone to the most westerly of the islands, Santo Antão. It is an arid island with the vast majority of the island’s population living in its main town of Mindelo. The main mountain is called Monte Verde and rises to 750m; it affords great views of the island and beyond. Although Mindelo is an attraction for visitors, there are other small towns and villages, such as São Pedro on the west of the island, which is very popular with windsurfers, kite surfers and boarders.
The Terrain is dominated by Monte Verde and the mountain ranges of Madeiral and Fateixa. From these it is possible to see Santo Antão and even the deserted islands of Santa Lucia, Branca and Raso on a clear day. There are interesting discoveries to be made if you don’t stick to the towns. Plants that have adapted to desert conditions will be found, together with palm trees and vegetable plots along with groves of acacia trees. There are small villages, such as Calhau, with its colourful houses.
The main town of Mindelo is a tourist and cultural magnet. Although discovered in 1462, it was only in the 19th Century that the potential of the deep harbour was appreciated by the British when it became a refuelling stop for ships. It is now a prosperous town, with restored squares and refurbished facades of its historic buildings. It is easily explored on foot and there are arts and crafts exhibitions and workshops, a cultural centre (Centro Cultural do Mindelo) an arts museum (Museu de Arte Tradicional), a lively fish market, and fruit and vegetable markets.
Culture is a feature of São Vicente. Whilst Mindelo is the hub, cultural events can be found throughout the island. The cosmopolitan atmosphere in Mindelo has spawned many musicians, writers, artists and thinkers. The Centro Cultural do Mindelo has exhibition space, a bookshop, a gift shop and a programme of films and talks, mostly in Portuguese or Creole. The Museu de Arte Tradicional houses exhibitions of ceramics, pano weaving, tapestries and musical instruments. Mindelo is proud of its rich tradition of music and art and has a vibrant nightlife.
Eating Out in Mindelo makes for difficult decisions, because there are many good restaurants. The choice includes Italian, French, European, Greek, Cajun and Creole. Although the main concentration is in Mindelo, there are good places to eat in other towns. Fresh fish is available in most places, garoupa being one of the fish caught locally, along with tuna and wahoo. The Cape Verdean speciality is cachupa, a stew of hominy corn, beans, vegetables, spices and marinated pork or tuna and there are many other wonderful dishes to be tried.
The beaches, as with the other islands in the archipelago, are plentiful. The beach at São Pedro is a windsurfers paradise and one of the best for speed windsurfing (best conditions Nov-Apr) and to the southeast of São Pedro there are beautiful, deserted beaches of fine white coral, surrounded by the reddish brown scree on the mountains. Osprays can be seen gliding above the water.
In the centre of Mindelo you will find Laginha Beach, this is a great spot to relax and enjoy the views across Mindelo bay. The beach near the small town of Baía das Gatas (The bay of cats) on the northeast of the island is considered safe for children, being protected from the winds. It is also where the biggest festival takes place on the beach. The Baia das Gatas Music Festival occurs each year over the August full moon. Usually a long weekend. Full of artists and bands, this festival is a real party and should not be missed by any party goer.
The Climate is tropical and dry, and it rarely rains on São Vicente. The dry season in Cape Verde is generally November to June with temperature and humidity rising between July and October. Any rain is normally confined to October. The temperature varies very little and is normally in the range of 21°C and 28°C. It can be cooler at night. Wind is at its strongest between January and April, but calm to moderate for the remainder of the year. The climate provides an all-year destination for those seeking sun and warmth.