My Santo Antão adventure

Updated on Oct 24, 2019 by Beth Handel

Blog > My Santo Antão adventure

Beth, from our admin team, recently paid a visit to Cape Verde, and here’s her experience of the lesser-known island of Santo Antão...

Like explorers of old, I was travelling across the Canal de São Vicente (from São Vicente to Santo Antão), looking for adventure and treasure.

As we left the port of Mindelo and passed the rocky island known as Bird Island, the tops of the waves shone like diamonds. The ferry crossing takes an hour and the best view by far, is up on the top deck. Coming into the gateway of our adventure (the modern port of Porto Novo), we were greeted by a welcoming committee; a small pod of dolphins jumping in our wake. 

Porto Novo 

The town of Porto Novo is a town of two halves; around the ferry terminal it has the vibrancy and feeling of a modern port. A few steps away, you are transported to a different time – people are laid back, transporting fresh produce in the backs of open 4x4s, talking to neighbours, kids mucking about – just getting on with life.

After looking around Santantao Art Resort (a short five-minute drive from the ferry), our band of explorers left Porto Novo behind, and climbed up and up to the highest point on the island, the extinct volcano of Coroa. We drove past the ‘cova’ or pit, which we were told was the boiler of the volcano. It was now full of lush green fields, shining down below us like fields of Jade. As we went over the top, the mountain was shrouded in mist and the temperature had dropped. Our route down the other side of the mountains was hidden from view.

Santantao Art Resort 

Driving down through the clouds, we passed picturesque mountains villages, their gardens clung to the mountains in terraces. Here I could see banana plants, mangoes, vines and other jewel-like veggies peeping through the green vegetation. Our next destination was the town of Ribeira Grande. Our route down also went across mountain ridges and zigzagged down the steep mountain sides. The men who built this road must have had nerves of steel and a head for heights! One of our crew said the views were like something out of a tropical film set and expected to see a dinosaur coming into view at any time!! The difference between the two sides of the mountain is like night and day. We felt as if we had been taken back in time.

Garden terraces. Image credit: Frank Bach | Shutterstock

When we arrived, it was past noon and it seemed like the whole town were out doing their lunch time business/chores. Our lunch was being served at Pedracin Village, the drive out to the hotel is about 10 minutes up another hidden valley, with houses dotted along the mountain sides.

Pedracin Village accommodation 

The hotel’s vista and location are simply stunning, and the staff were very welcoming, they even offered a ‘sample’ of the local alcohol – Grog! It certainly warmed up our cockles! After touring the hotel, we spent a good hour and a half soaking up the scenery and having lunch. I could have spent more time here. We visited in the dry season, but we were told when they have rain, the valley is covered with jewel-like wild flowers – I even start to imagine what it looks like.

Pedracin Village views

Far too soon, it was time to carry on our adventure and Ponta do Sol (and the Tiduca Hotel) was in our line of sight. Again, we passed villages but they were now fishing villages, with brightly coloured boats beached and  waiting for the next tide. Ponta do Sol is a very historic area, this was the first safe harbour on the island. The town is nestled between the steep volcanic mountains and the majestic sapphire blue of the Atlantic Ocean. The pace of life here seems much slower. On arriving, we we spotted a heated and much-debated game of dominoes taking place by the old harbour. After visiting the very modern Tiduca Hotel, it was time to go back for the evening ferry.

Tiduca Hotel 

Ponto do Sol

Our way back was via the new road, which weaved its way around the edge of the island, not through the heart of it. The view changed again from fishing villages, sheltering against the cliffs, to more agricultural through the Ribeira Grande area, then back to fishing villages followed by isolated rock formations. I thought I had seen everything the island had to offer – I was wrong. The last part of the journey will stay with me for a long time. The volcanic rocks and its strata were breathtaking with the changes in colour and the angle of the rocks. The last present the island gave us was a rainbow, which followed us for a good 10 minutes. The colours were brighter than any treasure.

Would I travel back to Santo Antão? I would go back tomorrow and carry on my adventure in search for yet more hidden treasure!     

To find out more about the island of Santo Antão, visit our guide. Alternatively, if you think that you’d like to stay a few nights on this island, view our accommodation here.


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