The magical island of Santo Antao probably is Cape Verde's most beautiful island. It's at least 4 times larger compared to neighbor São Vicente. Only the island of Santiago is larger. This, and the fact that there is so much to see, makes Santo Antão a perfect place to get a rental car. You can hire a car in harbour city Porto Novo, and discover nearly the entire island from there.
Most people travel to the island for some serious hiking. Santo Antão has many hiking trails, where you can spend days going from village to village. But the incredible nature of the island is not only for people looking for hikes and trekkings. Santo Antão is also a must for those that do not want to hike that much, don't have the time or those who are not capable.
Limited time to explore the island
Having a rental car gives you much more freedom. You'll be able to see more in less time. Many hikes on the island take up the entire day. This also has to do with the fact that transportation sometimes is needed to and from the starting and end point.
As mentioned earlier, Santo Antão is Cape Verde's second biggest island. Having a rental car gives you the option to visit a very special part of the island. The west coast of the island has, compared to the other side, a small population. The drive from Porto Novo to Tarrafal de Monte Trigo is not only a beautiful one, but it also shows the reality. The drive takes more than one hour, with only the village of Lajedos in between.
After the ferry from Mindelo, and the drive from Porto Novo it might be a good idea to spend the night in Tarrafal de Monte Trigo. Doing this also creates time to head to Monte Trigo, which is an even more secluded village. You can only reach Monte Trigo by foot, or by fisherman boat.
Going around the island with a car rental is also a very good option for people doing a day tour of Santo Antão. If you take the 07:00 ferry from Mindelo to Porto Novo, you can be on your way in your rental car before 09:00 to see as much of the island as possible. The last ferry to Mindelo usually departs at 17:00.
Driving instead of Hiking
By hiking across the island you'll encounter some of the most beautiful places of Santo Antão and even the entire country. Fortunately, you can also see incredible places of Santo Antão without hours of hiking. Next to the road to Tarrafal de Monte Trigo, you can easily drive up to places such as Alto Mira, Corda and Ponta do Sol.
Ponta do Sol is a very charming town located at the end of the new coastal route from Porto Novo. This drive takes about 45 minutes, but you'll want to make some stops along the way. Also, before reaching Ponta do Sol make sure to head into at least one of the amazing valleys: Paúl, Ribeira da Torre and Ribeira de Janela.
The Paúl valley is the longest and most well known of the three. Many people do the hike from the Cova crater down into the valley. You can drive all the way up to Cabo de Ribeira, where the trail from Cova comes to an end. In the valley you can make a stop at different places such as Eito and Passagem.
Another must for your island drive is the old mountain road. This fantastic route takes you all the way from Porto Novo to Ribeira Grande. It's fascinating to see the landscape slowly change once you start driving up the mountain. During this drive you'll have a chance to stop at the Cova crater, Delgadim and Corda before driving back down to the coast.
Hi, my name is Freddy, and I'm the creator of the MindeloCaboVerde.com blog. Thank you so much for reading. Please feel free to message me with questions, reservations and bookings.