Make Cape Verde’s Cultural Island – São Vicente, Your Base
7 Jun 2013
Indulge in a rich tradition of music, art and unwind on golden sand beaches in São Vicente
before embarking on a journey of discovery around the archipelago of Cape Verde
Arriving on the island of São Vicente on the north-west of the archipelago of Cape Verde, visitors are greeted with a dramatic mountainous terrain with distant coastal views of golden sand beaches. Mindelo, the main town on the island is by far the most cultural and picturesque town in Cape Verde. Enclosed between mountains and the ocean, the bay; Porto Grande, has been classified as one of the most beautiful in the world by UNESCO. Outside the bay the small island named the Ilhéu de Pássaros with its old lighthouse rises up from the sea.
Mindelo is a lively, beautiful, cultural town and a perfect holiday destination. Small cobbled streets lead onto wide avenues lined with palm trees and colourful buildings & architecture from the Portuguese and British colonial era. For those with sport in mind, Mindelo has two tennis clubs and one golf course, the first on Cape Verde and many note that this course was host to the first international overseas championship, around 1896 when the St. Vicent Golf Club was founded. Since 1906 the SHIELD championship was played every year here.
Weekends are vibrant and many designate these “Mindelo Is Music” as there is plenty to explore, experience and hear. A typical Saturday could include a stroll around the town centre then onto the markets where the fish market is the most prominent, before trying out a guitar workshop with Luis Baptista (Bau´s Fatter). Then after lunch spend the afternoon relaxing at Laginha (city beach). A typical Sunday could include an island tour; Mindelo – Monte Verde – Baia das Gatas – Praia Grande – Calhau – Mindelo. Enjoy lunch in Calhau at Chez Loutcha where guests can try a selection of excellent dishes from Cape Verde whilst listening to traditional music and watching a several dance performances. A meal here is a must!
Eating, drinking and celebrating are very much on show in Mindelo. Fish, especially is on many menus across the buzzy restaurants. The distinctive and moving Morna music is a trademark of Mindelo and Cape Verde and can be heard from venues across town. For dinner try Cachupa, a typical Cape Verdean dish (slow cooked stew of corn, beans, and fish or meat). Of course the vast options of fishes are also excellent and include Tuna, Serra (wahoo), Garoupa or Octopus. And the goats cheese with fresh papaya is fantastic fusion also and a must try known locally as Romeo & Julieta!
The island of São Vicente has some fantastic stretches of sandy beach, often deserted. The nearest beach to Mindelo is Laginha, a stretch of golden sand with aqua-marine water. This beach is popular with tourists and locals. San Pedro, 10 minutes from Mindelo, has a breath-taking sweep of golden sand and Baia de Salamansa is one of the best places in the world for kite surfing. Baia das Gatas and Calhau are also beautiful beach areas.
São Vicente has a thriving music scene and this is embodied in the vibrant and colourful carnivals that take place throughout the year. The colourful Brazilian-style Mardi Gras carnival in February sees people from all over the world descend on Mindelo for 3-4 days of music, costumes, samba dancing and partying. There is also a large music festival in August on the first weekend of the full moon at Baia das Gatas, and the MindelAct theatre festival in September. New Year is another reason for a carnival. People travel from all over the world to experience these events. Mindelo was home to the famous Cape Verdean singer Cesária Évora, known as the “Barefoot Diva”. Grammy Award winner Évora sang a form of blues called Morna; a beautiful, sad and haunting music which is the national music of the Cape Verde islands.
Villa St. Aubyn is located in the heart of Mindelo’s historic centre and has a Portuguese/British colonial-style feel to it. Split across three storeys, the house includes a roof terrace which offers a sundeck, lounge, dining area and a Jacuzzi. The villa is home to a master bedroom with en-suite, 2 double bedrooms; one en-suite with direct access to the terrace and one with adjoining bathroom and 1 bedroom with bunk beds ideal for children. A lounge has direct access to a balcony, satellite TV, printer & high-speed wireless internet and finally a fully equipped kitchen is also available. Meals can be prepared by a chef from just €15 per person excluding alcohol. The villa also offers a full housekeeping service. Villa St. Aubyn provides a choice of cotton or silk bed sheets along with towels for the bath, beach & gym.
Want to take home a souvenir? A good CD will always take you back to Cape Verde. Why not experience the sounds of Mayra Andrade who has been making international waves for several years now or Bau, Tito Paris, Sara Tavares, Ceuzany or Bius – with music everywhere in Mindelo, someone will surely recommend something to suit your taste. Cape Verdean handicrafts can also be purchased in Centro Cultural at the main square. (Praça Nova)
Priced from €125.00 per person, per night inclusive of breakfast, airport transfers and a massage from a therapist. Exclusive use is priced from €400.00 per day based on six guests sharing inclusive of breakfast.
Direct flights between the UK & Cape Verde are available from London Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham & Glasgow. Non Direct flights are available via Lisbon, Amsterdam & Paris to a wider selection of airports with either TAP Portugal or TACV