The contrasts of Santiago

 When we started researching our trip to Cabo Verde, something stood out. A beach. I couldn’t let it go. Something was calling me to the far north of Santiago Island.

Not even a delayed ferry could stop me!

The darkness didn’t let us see the spectacular road that we were driving. Or the ubiquitous green! [I don’t know if it’s that green always – we were there in December – but I loved the contrasts that the green was creating…]


Home away from home

Casa Strela (CVE 11400; double room, shared bathroom, breakfast included) was perfectly located, clean, and nicely decorated. It also offered a very interesting self-service bar! Its greatest plus is, however, the team that keeps it running – kind, full of energy and smiles.  


Good eats

My favourite breakfasts from our entire trip were at Casa Strela [and we also chose to have dinner there!]. I was happy to take the recipe for banana jam home with me [I still need to put it to good use, though].  

Breakfast at Casa Strela; Fogo in the background; Tarrafal, Santiago, Cape Verde

On Tarrafal Beach [or on the way to it], you can grab a local doughnut from Padaria Bakery Café, a fresh coconut (CVE 250), or even fish!


To do

Except for the trek to the Poilão, all our activities were concentrated in and around Tarrafal, as we only had less than two full days to spend on Santiago Island. There are so many things to do and I wish to return!

Snorkelling: Ponta d’Atum (or the small beach) offers fantastic snorkelling (good visibility!), worry and current-free. There are also some wonderful underwater caves to explore. Marcel was lucky to meet David, who showed him around. [To get to the water, you can enter King Fisher Village and just go down the steps.]

Walking: Everything is so peaceful that you wouldn’t believe that it was a bit unsafe back in the day (or so we were told). Walking around Tarrafal is relaxing and fun and you get to take in the wonderful scenery!  

Walking around Tarrafal, Santiago, Cape Verde

Kayaking or hydrobiking: Apparently, hydrobikes are more popular than kayaks in Tarrafal, so hydrobiking we did! The waters in the bay were calm that day, so we got pretty far out and relaxed (we paid EUR 10 for an hour of fun).

Tarrafal Beach, Santiago, Cape Verde

Playing beach football: The locals – as proven before! – are so kind that they welcomed Marcel with open arms when he wished to play football. Suddenly, there were so many things to do on Tarrafal Beach that it seemed like time was running out.

Marcel and his new friends; Tarrafal Beach, Santiago, Cape Verde

Watching the sunset: Again, Ponta d’Atum is the place and it was a very pink one!  

The pink sunset at Ponta d'Atum; Tarrafal, Santiago, Cape Verde

Trekking: To find the old baobab tree (it is said to be 500 years old!), you’ll need to search for the Poilão de Boa Entrada.

You are enjoying the perks of tropical climate, after all, and the lushness of it all! It is hard to get to if you wish to hike (because there are no signs to the start of the trail). Just ask around for 'Poilão' you will be surely helped by the friendly locals. If you have the time, go for the hike instead of the drive (there are two ways to get there).

It is a wonderful experience (a bit hard under the merciless sun); the tree and the surroundings are beautiful!

Poilao de Boa Entrada, Santiago, Cape Verde

Know before you go

Taking the ferry to Santiago

We bought the ticket online. They usually list their schedule every Thursday, so be ready to purchase it when the sailings go live. It was CVE 5338 for 2 persons; the trip took more than 7 hours.

Initially scheduled to leave at 11am, it was moved to 2pm but it left later than that from Boavista.

On the ferry from Boavista to Santiago, Cape Verde


Renting a car

Route238 Rent-a-car was more than a lifesaver! When our ferry was late, we were awaited in Praia, taken to buy food at wonderful Natura (we arrived in the nick of time!), and then met again at the airport when we returned the car. Everything cost CVE 10000 for 2 days.


I wasn’t ready to leave because I loved it so much! It had become my favourite Cape Verdean island.

On the other hand, it’s always better to leave in glory than let the buzz fade away.

The city of Cesária Évora/the place of the Carnival/the cultural capital of Cabo Verde was next. We had chosen this route even though there were several options around… and we wouldn’t reach it on water.  

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