Most travellers we meet love the combination of two very different islands like São Vicente and Santo Antão. São Vicente, with it's vibrant city of Mindelo is a very cultural place. Santo Antão is the spot for people who enjoy hiking/trekking and amazing mountain views.
Truth be told, many people choose to spend more time on the island of Santo Antão. The island is about four times as big as São Vicente and is a place where you can really get away from your modern and often stressful daily life.
In case you choose the island of São Vicente as your vacation destination, I can highly recommend a quick day trip (maybe with a sleepover) to get to know a part of Santo Antão. To give you an idea of how you can make the most out of a day on the island, here are a few tips:
Take the early ferry
The ferry from São Vicente to Santo Antão departs from the Porto Grand harbour, located just a few minutes outside of Mindelo's city centre. At the moment the ferries from Mindelo depart to Porto Novo three times a day. This is the current schedule:
Mindelo, São Vicente – Porto Novo, Santo Antão:
Porto Novo, Santo Antão – Mindelo, São Vicente:
If you're going for a day trip you need to catch the 07:00 ferry in Mindelo. Make sure to buy your tickets a day before, to save some time. You can buy tickets on the day of departure, but this means you'll have to be at the harbour at 06:00 if you don't want to risk missing the ferry.
Choose your route
The next question is what you want to see. Santo Antão is Cape Verde's second largest island, which makes it impossible to see everything in a day. The good news is that there is a simple route, but it allows you to see a few of the most incredible parts of the island. It's the route that leads from Porto Novo to what we call the old mountain road, and then down again and back to Porto Novo along the coastal (new) road. A few of the highlights of the old mountain road:
Both Cova and Delgadim are stops with incredible view points where you should really take some time to take it all in. From Porto Novo the drive up the mountains takes you to an altitude of about 1200 meters!
There is also time to drive to Ponta do Sol and/or the valley of Paúl. Either can serve as the place for a delicious lunch, with local specialities. Next to this route, another way to go is to see the other side of the island. From Porto Novo, you can go towards Alto Mira and from there in the direction of Tarrafal de Monte Trigo.
I normally recommend people to go with one of my favorite drivers on the island, called Branco. You can also pick your own driver when you arrive in Porto Novo, or go with a tour guide. Going with a good tour guide has the benifit of receiving both fun and interesting information regarding all aspects of Santo Antão.
Not looking for a driver or tour guide? Go alone, and use the public transportation on the island to your advantage in a smart route that takes you right back to Porto Novo at the end of the day.
A rental car is also a great option. You can either rent a car in Mindelo, and do a day tour there before taking it on the ferry, or you can choose to rent a car in Porto Novo upon arrival.
A day trip should serve to see as much as possible in a short time, and it needs to be tailor made if desired. If you have places you would really like to see, of things you want to do, talk to your driver and/or guide to get it done. Of course you can always ask me for tips about your day trip as well.
Request info for a day tour:
Hi, I'm Freddy, the creator of the MindeloCaboVerde.com blog. Thank you so much for reading! Please feel free to message me for more info on the day tours around Santo Antão. See you soon!