On this Cape Verde island, you can spy sea turtles, spot humpback whales and sun yourself on sandy beaches beside its starry places to stay.
The picture-book Cape Verde island of Boa Vista is surrounded by 55km (34mi) of pristine white beaches, where sea turtles nest and migrating humpback whales pass. Ever one to surprise, its interior is a complete contrast: positively lunar, the volcanic desert landscape broken only occasionally by date palms. Accommodation is just as varied, with something for everyone. Here’s our pick of the best.
This is a hotel for people who like to keep busy. When you’re not swimming in the crystal-clear Atlantic or huge pool, or rejuvenating in the jacuzzi and sauna at the excellent Renova Spa, the Riu’s 24-hour all-inclusive system will keep you on the trot, with organised fitness and cultural activities geared up for families, couples or groups of all kinds. There’s even a RiuLand Club for the little ones.
Book a suite in the adults-only area of Hotel Riu Touareg to unlock special services (a hydromassage bathtub and balcony or terrace with views of the Atlantic), plus the area’s private pool, and live out your fantasies in this exotic African-Arabian setting with clay arches and minarets. Bathe in the warm sea, take excursions to discover the stark beauty of the desert, then unwind in a Hamman at the spa, before dancing to local beats in the hotel club or just lounging under the stars.
Want a relaxed village vibe? Here, you follow cobbled paths from your comfortable suite through gardens bright with bougainvillaea to the golden sands of Praia de Chaves, one of the most beautiful beaches in the archipelago. Later, loll by the more secluded of two pools, then take a bicycle and head out to explore the dunes. Fishing and boat trips make for great days out.
There’s something for all ages on what’s known (for good reason) as the “Island of Happiness”. Especially at Iberostar Club Boa Vista, where for kids there’s the Monkey Club (ages 4 to 7) or Dolphin Club (8 to 12) and for teens, there’s endless watersports on Praia de Chaves, plus three big pools, tennis, ping pong, archery, sand-biking and a kitesurfing school. Parents can wander the gardens and loll on loungers, then catch up on a long-overdue pampering at the spa.
Eco-warriors should check into the Norte Nature Park in a settlement abandoned by farmers and fishermen that’s now been converted into cottages with dry-stone walls, colourful shutters and lanterns to light your way under endless stars. The owners of this eco-lodge see to it that the environmental impact is zero (heating is solar) and work responsibly with the nearby community. It makes a perfect base for diving, trekking, boating, kitesurfing and fishing.
One for those who don’t want to leave the hotel, RIU Palace Boavista is just a 10-minute transfer from the airport, so you can unpack and kick back in this elegant all-inclusive in a matter of minutes. Everything is on hand, from a private beach with sunbeds and parasols, to three enormous pools, and an activity programme that runs from RuiFit and RiuAtelier to volleyball, windsurfing and scuba diving. At night, there’s also karaoke and dancing.
For those wanting to explore a true Cape Verde town, this charming B&B is on the north-west coast of Boa Vista, in its main settlement, Sal Rei. Here, you’re near not only two beautiful beaches, but the main local attractions, from picturesque little Nossa Senhora de Fátima Chapel to the Cabo Santa Maria shipwreck.