Are Vicente i Cabo Verde, December 2019. We follow a pulsating blue dot on Google Maps. It takes us down a busy street, through the deserted area of the port area, past gray buildings surrounded by barbed wire. Finally it rises: Praia da Laginha, the beach that makes us return to the island a few days later. Perhaps not because of its exceptional beauty, but because both the beach and the city totally surprise us. Why hasn’t anyone talked about Mindelo? Now I do!
Reading tips: hiking on the emerald green island of Santo Antão in Cape Verde.
Cape Verdean culture in Mindelo
Mindelo is the second largest city in Cape Verde and is located on the island of São Vicente. Usually counted as the cultural capital of the country, many artists and creative souls live here. Bars with live music and noisy markets are interspersed with a refreshing shade of palm trees and quiet alleys lined with vibrantly colored house facades. Even though the city is full of joy for life, it never feels touristy. The advice is to come here during one of the city’s festivals, that’s one of the reasons the city is called Kap Verdes Rio de Janeiro.
We wandered the alleys, grabbed an espresso at the noisy Pastelaria Morabeza known for its pastries. Buy fresh vegetables and spices at the Mercado municipal market and see Cape Verdean handicrafts at a market. Vips, we finished in the middle of a neighborhood concert. In every alley there is at least one nice cafe or bar and I think I would like to go here sometime to write THAT book. For lunch, we take a dip on the beach and have a slow lunch at the beach bar before walking on. Emphasizing Cape Verde is a waste of the soul.
Saint Vincent dwarf med wasp
Finding a scooter for rent in Mindelo is not easy, most people rent a car with four-wheel drive to be able to get off the only main road on the island. But in the end we found a scooter in Zoom Zoom Mindelo and we left the city. We take the road along Praia Grande which is just that: huge. The rust-colored sand dunes are lapped by long waves. São Vicente is often windy, which is why the island is considered one of the best places in the world for kitesurfing and surfing. Here and there a dragon shines.
Our destination is Sandy Beach, which will be located at the eastern end of the island and, according to Google, it is the most beautiful beach on the island and the best place to practice kitesurfing. What Google Maps doesn’t tell you is the incredibly bumpy gravel road that leads to the island. We skim up and down on our scooter for 5 km / h and after about half an hour we give up, park the scooter and instead start walking the last stretch through the stone desert. It’s hot but eventually we get to Sandy Beach.
The beach is small but beautiful. We eat our oranges and we want to have a picnic. At the end of the beach is an abandoned fort where it takes time to play at least five great movies before we go home. After a while a four wheel drive car comes that we should also rent and takes us back to the scooter.
A galette in Salamansa
We found a creperie, Bar Creperie Chez Zoe, on the way back. A strange feeling when entering the extremely empty bar in the middle of the deserted beach of Salamansa. Faint tones of Bob Marley make their way through the small kitchen door. We each ordered a hearty galette and shared a crepe for dessert with Nutella. The entertainment consists of kitesurfers in the bay. Unknowingly it’s modern and I can’t help but think about the crowds that would have hung out here if we were in Södermalm in Stockholm. How lucky we are not!
So we live in São Vicente
We slept two nights in Mindelo in a townhouse that we rented on Airbnb. The apartment has three floors with a small rooftop patio. Unfortunately, this particular apartment is not listed on Airbnb, but can be rented through this page. One tip is also to look for things like “Mindelo studio” or “Mindelo artist residence” for similar accommodation.
How to get to São Vicente
We found cheap last minute tickets via Ving and flew with them to the island of SAL where we spent the night before continuing with domestic flights to São Vicente. It is also possible to fly from Stockholm to São Vicente via Lisbon with TAP Air Portugal, but then you need to spend one night (14 hours) in Lisbon (which I had extended to two nights to also see Lisbon on the way).
From São Vicente the ship heads to Santo Antão, which is another HOT tip!