7 reasons why you should visit the stunning island of São Nicolau

Updated on Sep 13, 2019 by Kathryn Burrington

Blog > 7 reasons why you should visit the stunning island of São Nicolau

The sleepy island of São Nicolau is relatively untouched by tourism, but its spectacular scenery makes it a worthy addition to your island hopping tour.

While first impressions of São Nicolau may be of a barren island, you don’t have to venture far to discover its stunning secrets.

1.Explore Ribeira Prata

Possibly the island's most stunning valley, Ribeira Prata (meaning 'silver stream' in Portuguese), boasts a lush emerald green valley floor and lower slopes which lead up to dramatic cliffs and barren mountains. It can be visited as part of an island tour by car or enjoyed on foot.

2. Discover the island’s capital, Ribeira Brava

This colourful colonial town, the island’s tranquil capital, was built inland to protect it from pirates. It makes a wonderful base from which to explore São Nicolau. Wander its narrow winding streets, admire its striking architecture and walk through its beautiful gardens, before setting off on an adventure in the surrounding mountains and valleys.

3. Enjoy nature’s artistry at Carbeirinho

This beautiful rock formation, carved out over the centuries by Mother Nature, is a must on any island tour.

Image credit: Guido Amrein, Switzerland | Shutterstock 

“We were taken to the amazing rock formation, the Carbeirinho. The colours in the rocks and the blues in the sea were stunning. Our guide, Toy, said if you do not go and see the formation, you haven’t seen São Nicolau – he really wasn’t wrong.” - Becky Dorey, Sales Consultant

4. Discover ancient dragon trees

Visit Fajã Valley and its ancient dragon trees, a rare species, endemic to the island and the symbol of São Nicolau.

5. Party at Ribeira Brava carnival

The island’s capital is recognised as the archipelago’s religious heart, and its carnival, celebrated each February/March, is second only to Mindelo’s.

6. Hike Monte Gordo National Park

To the west of the island, Monte Gordo, a magnificent mountain volcanic in origin, rises to 1,312 metres, the highest point on São Nicolau. Pine forests cover the hillsides, becoming covered in lichens in the mist-laden higher slopes, while village houses cluster around the mountain’s base. The area is important because of its rich biodiversity and was officially recognised as a national park in 2007.

7. Stay and eat at Pensão Bela Sombra

This brightly painted, small hotel reflects the vibrancy of the islands of Cape Verde. It's wonderfully situated in the heart of the island’s capital, surrounded by stunning mountain scenery. The 20 rooms are simply but comfortably furnished, and the views from the top floor balcony are breathtaking. Find out more about this property

“Pensão Bela Sombra is in a fabulous location just off the main square of Ribeira Brava. And it’s so colourful, as is the fabulous chef! Such a warm welcome with food cooked to perfection and at such a reasonable price. Definitely the best restaurant on the island.”  - Suzanne Brown, Product Executive

Tourism on the island of São Nicolau is in its infancy and what you will experience is the real, untouched natural beauty. You'll find few people speak English but that is all part of its charm.

“At first it looked quite barren, but once we started to explore the island, the beauty of it really stood out. It felt like we were stepping back in time and experiencing the local way of life, which I absolutely loved.” - Carla Skeites, Sales Team Leader


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