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São Nicolau

The  untouched   pearl  of Cape Verde

Welcome to the enchanting island of Cape Verde - São Nicolau, a hidden jewel in the heart of the Atlantic. This quiet island, lesser-known than its siblings, is a perfect place for those who seek peace, authenticity, and a touch of adventure. Dive deep into the spirit of Cape Verdean simplicity, known as Morabeza, as you discover the traditional settlements of Ribeira Brava and Tarrafal. The unhurried pace, combined with stunning tropical valleys and hiking tracks, promises a mind opening experience.

Ribeira Brava The heartbeat of São Nicolau lies in its capital, Ribeira Brava. Housing nearly 20,000 souls, this city pulsates with local traditions, colonial architecture, and the melodic rhythms of Funaná and Batuku. The musical legacy of São Nicolau is deeply rooted, often echoing stories of love, longing, and island life. As you traverse this charismatic town, let the age-old tales of sailors and fishermen, narrated in the harmonious tunes of local performers, envelop you.


The stunning rock formations by Carbeirinho beach are considered on of the top highlights in the archipel. The lava rocks, carved out by the ocean and wind form a moonlike landscape with particular shapes. The caves are connected to black sand beaches and spots to relax. Dare jumping of the cliffs with the locals on your next trip to Sao Nicolau!



A tapestry of rugged mountains, verdant valleys, and secluded beaches, São Nicolau is a nature lover's paradise. The island's volcanic origins have sculpted dramatic landscapes such as Monte Gordo, reaching 1,312 meters, which casts its protective shadow over verdant plantations below. The Carberinho rock formations, sculpted by time and the ocean, offer a surreal panorama against the azure backdrop.

While São Nicolau's beaches, like Praia Branca, may not beckon swimmers due to strong undertows, they provide an unspoiled haven for contemplation, picnics, and beachcombing.


Rugged mountain landscapes - viewpoint on Ribeira Brava

Highlights of São Nicolau 

• Ribeira Brava: The capital village is the place to dive into the island's history, explore the local markets and local way of living. Participate in the São João Baptista festival in June or the Carnaval in February that's becoming a bigger spectacle each year. 
• Tarrafal de São Nicolau: This fishing village known for its black sandy beaches and evolving surfing hotspot is the gate to most visitors arriving by ferry. Tourism is slowly finding its ways here and staying here during your stay is definetely recommended. The sunsets here are amazing!
• Monte Gordo National Park: A sanctuary for endemic flora and fauna. Perfect for trekking enthusiasts aiming for the peak at 1,312 metres. Enjoy the views and tranquility at the top of Monte Gorde.
• Carbeirinho: One of the 7 wonders of Cape Verde, marking the landscape with it's special rock formations. 
• Fajã de Cima & Fajã de Baixo: The farmers area on a higher platform filled with tropical vegetation, friendly locals and ocean views. Less known but definitely worth hiking in this area.
• Preguiça : This municipality reminds us about the colonial past of Cape Verde with Portuguese pillars and canons that served as the harbour of Ribeira Brava. 
• Praia de Baixo Rocha: On walking distance of Tarrafal lays this white sandy beach hidden gem. A nice trek in the middle of nowhere that rewards you with a swim in an almost private beach. 

• Juncalinho : This secluded village preserves one of the biggest natural pools on the island.

• Ribeira da Prata : One of the main hiking valleys on the island with waterfalls during the rainy season.  

Where to stay

Exploring the Hidden Gem: Sao Nicolau Island

 Sao Nicolau offers a unique and less crowded experience for travellers seeking the road less travelled. This picturesque island is a well-kept secret, mainly due to limited transportation options, which have preserved its unspoiled charm:


Domestic transport to São Nicolau: 

Getting to Sao Nicolau can be an adventure in itself. The Sao Nicolau Airport (SNE) serves the island, receiving only 2-4 weekly flights from the airline Cabo verde airlines (TACV), from Praia and Sal.  

While flying is the fastest option, travelling by ferry has a regular schedule from the bigger islands Sao Vicente, Santiago and Sal and is therefor the prefered option. Daily connections aren't guaranteed, so purchasing tickets from CV Interilhas in advance is best to secure your journey. 

Travel duration by ferry

Tarrafal, Sao Nicolau - Palmeira, Sal : 7 hours

Tarrafal, Sao Nicolau - Mindelo, Sao Vicente : 4 hours

Tarrafal, Sao Nicolau - Praia, Santiago : 10 hours

Travel duration by plane

Sao Nicolau (SNE) - Sal (SID) : 20 minutes

Sao Nicolau (SNE) - Sao Vicente (VXE) : 20 minutes

Sao Nicolau (SNE) - Praia, Santiago (RAI) : 30 minutes

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