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Boa Vista: beaches, dunes and turtles

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Boa Vista is the easternmost island of the Cape Verde archipelago. This means that it is the closest to Africa, it is in fact about 570 km from the African continent. Vaguely rounded in shape, it covers an area of about 620 sq km, and is therefore the third largest island in the archipelago, after the islands of Santo Antão and Santiago. The island is characterized by a largely flat and deserted landscape, with white sand dunes and expanses of volcanic lava. The highest point of the island is Monte Estancia which reaches 387 meters high, it is located near the coast in the south-eastern part of the island.

Boa Vista International Airport (Aeroporto Internacional Aristides Pereira) connects the island with numerous European countries. The airport is located near Rabil, south of the main center of the island, the town of Sal Rei. Sal Rei is located along the northwestern coast of Boa Vista and is also the port where ferries from other islands of the archipelago dock. In the past, the inhabitants of the island devoted themselves almost exclusively to agriculture and salt harvesting, but today both of these activities are in decline.


Tourism is instead the main activity to which the island population is dedicated today. Boa Vista is known for its white sand beaches and the sand dunes that occupy part of the island. The best known dunes are the dunes of the Viana Desert, which are located north-east of the village of Rabil a short distance from the international airport. The dunes extend over an area 1 km wide and 5 km long. Another tourist attraction is fishing, an activity practiced by the Cape Verdeans for subsistence and which attracts tourists who are passionate about this sport.

The oldest inhabited center of the island is Povoação Velha which is located in the interior of the southwestern part of the island. Povoação Velha was founded in the late 16th century and was the most important inhabited center of the island until 1810. Many of the island’s streets still retain the ancient stone pavement. Much of the island is a succession of sandy beaches. In particular, along the southern coast there are some very long and wild beaches such as Praia da Varandinha, Praia Curral Velho and Praia do Curralinho, also called Praia de Santa Mónica which extends for about 20 kilometers. Along the central-western coast is the best equipped Praia de Chaves.


Humpback whales frequent the waters of the island between February and May. In the period between June and October it is also possible to meet sea turtles who come to lay their eggs on the beaches of the island. Boa Vista is one of the most important nesting areas of sea turtles in the world, among the beaches where sea turtles lay their eggs there are those of Porto Ferreira, Boa Esperança, Varandinha, Norte, Canto, Curral Velho, Curralinho and Lacação. The Turtle Foundation actively protects the turtle nesting sites on the island.

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