Sao Nicolau Island

Sao Nicolau Island now Boasting most fertile land

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The Sao Nicolau Island

Sao Nicolau Island Sao Nicolau’s main town is Ribeira Brava and Tarrafal which hosts Sao Nicolau’s ferry and the fishing port Located on the eastern side of Monte Gordo, Cachaço

Cachaço – Sao Nicolau Island Cape Verde

Sao Nicolau Island

Located on the eastern side of Monte Gordo, Cachaço acts as the main entrance point to the park and is also home to the parks offices.

Boasting some of the most fertile land in Cape Verde and blessed with a great abundance of water, Cachaço’s lush vegetation makes it a glimmering jewel set in the mountains of Såo Nicolau.


Sao Nicolau Island

Ribeira Brava – Sao Nicolau Island Cape Verde
A sleepy little town nestled between two mountains.

Sao Nicolau Island
Sao Nicolau Island

Ribeira Brava has a rustic old world elegance and charm.

Historically a great center of learning in Cape Verde, Ribeira Brava was once home to a seminary as well the Catholic Arch-Bishop of all western Africa, and is still home to the largest church in Cape Verde.

As a result, many of the most celebrated Cape Verdean poets, artists, and thinkers have come from Sao Nicolau.

Sitting within sight of Monte Gordo, it is possible to hike up to the park from Ribeira Brava using an old cobblestone footpath banked on each side by high stone walls.

Ribeira Brava stands out as probably the prettiest town in the archipelago with its lovely colonial architecture, colourful fertile gardens and quiet dignity having been home to Africa’s first university and a focal point for the Portuguese intellectual elite.

Sao Nicolau Island

Tarrafal – Sao Nicolau Island Cape Verde
Ribeira Brava
From ocean side town of Tarrafal it is possible to watch as the clouds come pouring down the western face of the Monte Gordo.

As home to the port of Sao Nicolau, Tarrafal is also home to Sao Nicolau’s vibrant fishing industry.

The waters around Tarrafal are teeming with blue marlin, tuna, and swordfish, as well as several other marine animals such as lobster and octopus.

Sao Nicolau Island

The black sand beaches of Tarrafal are rumored to have medicinal properties, and it is not uncommon to see people burying themselves in hopes of curing aches and pains.

Diving and fishing are understandably, the most popular activities here, with leisure fishing enthusiasts mostly searching out the much sought after Blue Marlin.

Small dolphin schools also regularly follow vessels.



Sao Nicolau Island

Fragata – Sao Nicolau Island Cape Verde
: Tarrafal
Inaccessible by vehicle, Fragata is a small village located on the other side of a mountain pass from Faja.

The path through the mountains from Faja to Fragata is is one of the more beautiful trails on Såo Nicolau and the town of Fragata, with it’s homes built on the sides of cliffs, is also a spectacular sight.

Fragata is also home to one of the three trapiche’s on Såo Nicolau, the machinery used to make grogue out of sugarcane.

 Fragata donkey


Sao Nicolau Island

Baixo da Rocha – Sao Nicolau Island Cape Verde
Located approximately 5km south of Tarrafal, Baixo da Rocha is a pristine white sand beach that can only be reached by footpath or by hiring a truck driver to navigate the very bumpy road.

This limited accessibility means that the beach is very isolated and does not receive many visitors, helping keep it clean and ideal hiking destination. Baixo da Rocha

Baixo da Rocha

Sao Nicolau Island

Carbeirinho – Sao Nicolau Island Cape Verde
Baixo da Rocha
Located north of Tarrafal is the breathtaking cliffs and tranquil tide pools of Carbeirinho.

Sao Nicolau Island

It is the perfect destination for a hiking excursion and an ideal location for a picnic.

While less remote than Baixo da Rocha, there is no regular traffic to Carbeirinho.

A truck can be hired to provide transportation both one way and round trip, Carbeirinho


Visitors, however, are mostly drawn to the island mainly for its incomparable hiking. One of its main attractions is the enchanting and tropical Monte Gordo, which stands imperiously at 1,304m and has a stunning, fertile plant life.

A short trek from the capital you will find a stunning gorge with lush plantations of maize, banana and papaya.

Long since a motif not for just Sao Nicolau but Cape Verde, the island is also the home of the fairytale dragon trees (Dragoeiro), which is now officially an endangered species.

The nearby island of Raso, which is accessed from the port of Tarrafal is home to the Cape Verdian Lark – one of the rarest birds in the world. Visitors, however, should note that there is no shelter on the uninhabited Raso island and must bring their own water and food.

Sao Nicolau Island

Activities in Sao Nicolau Island Cape Verde

Sao Nicolau offers excellent hiking at all levels. Hill and valley walks are along well-kept paths used daily by the locals along the interior of Sao Nicolau and from its centre to the village of Tarrafal. You can go out on a local fishing boat, visit in October andyou are quite likely to see dolphins and flying fish.

Bird Watching in Sao Nicolau Island Cape Verde

Sao Nicolau is popular with bird watchers. From Tarrafal you can set sail for Rosa and Blanca, two uninhabited islands a couple of hours voyage away and amongst other birds is the home of the rare Cape Verdean Lark, one of the rarest birds in the world.

Please note these islands are served only by local fishing boat from Tarrafal on the island of Sao Nicolau.

There is nowhere to shelter on these islands, therefore it is essential that you take food and water for your visit.

All boat journeys are subject to weather conditions and at the discretion of the Captain. A permit will be required (only available at certain times of the year).

Festivals of Sao Nicolau Island – Cape Verde
Festivals are very important to the people of Sao Nicolau. Every town on the island has a patron saint.

On the feast day for that saint the town will hold a festival that lasts for days. People will come from all over the island to attend. By far the biggest festival on Sao Nicolau is Carnival, a four day festival that celebrates Fat Tuesday before the beginning of Lent.

A Field Guide to the Birds of the Atlantic Islands: Canary Islands, Madeira, Azores, Cape Verde

This is the first comprehensive field guide dealing exclusively with the birds of this spectacular region.

It covers all resident, migrant and vagrant species found in Macaronesia which comprises the Canary Islands, Madeira, Azores and Cape Verde.

Over 450 species are illustrated with full details of all the plumages and major races likely to be encountered.

Sao Vicente Island

Concise text describes identification, status, range, habits and voice. This authoritative book will not only be an indispensable guide to the visiting birder, but also a vital tool for those engaged in work to conserve and study the avifauna of this region.

The Atlantic Islands shelter a remarkable diversity of birds, many seriously endangered with small and vulnerable ranges.

Grogue Terra of Sao Nicolau Sao Nicolau Island Cape Verde

The grogue made on Sao Nicolau, known locally as grogue terra, is widely considered to be some of the best grogue made in Cape Verde. Only a small amount of grogue is made to meet the demands of the islands inhabitants and none is shipped off island. There are three locations where grogue is made on Sao Nicolau: Fragata, Queimadas, and Aguas das Patas. Sometimes the sap of a Dragoeiro is added to make Dragons Blood grogue.

Sao Nicolau Island

Sea Turtles of Cape Verde
Sao Nicolau is also the nesting ground for many different types of sea turtles including Hawkbills, Loggerheads, and Leatherbacks. Unfortunately hunting and the destruction of nesting areas has made many of these majestic creatures endangered species. Efforts are being made to protect the sea turtles of Sao Nicolau by banning hunting, protecting nesting areas, and by collecting infant turtles to assist with their release.


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