THE MYSTIC ISLAND
It all started in “Povoação”, present Vila da Ribeira Grande, located in the north, which hosted the first city of the island. But today, the 779 km2 that make up the territory of Santo Antão is distributed for three municipalities: Porto Novo, Ribeira Grande and Paul. Together they form the second largest island in the country, the most mountainous and perhaps the largest green “lung” of the entire
Breathtaking valleys and towering mountains. Ingress and rugged rocks challenged by the population. Do not be surprised by seeing houses erected in the most inhospitable and distant places, and without access roads. The culture of the island is still rich in music, handicrafts and varied gastronomy. It is impossible not to taste the sweets and liqueurs of Lajedos, the goat’s cheese and the famous grog of Santo Antão. Experts say, it is the best in Cabo Verde.
One can only arrive here by boat, via São Vicente or Mindelo, what does enlarge the mysticism behind a trip to Santo Antão. An hour’s drive is just enough to reach this magical island. Waiting for you, Porto Novo, a fishing town and the great gateway to Santo Antão, an agricultural island by nature. The island of the mountains, as it is known, has become one of the main destinations of Nature, Rural and Ecotourism of Cabo Verde, thanks to its diverse landscape and numerous potentialities for the practice of nature sports. Rich in belvederes, rails and paths for the practice of trekking, hiking or simple walks. It is impossible not to fall in love with Santo Antão and its people.
There are places to discover. From the top of Coroa (the highest point of the island), to the Tarrafal of Monte Trigo, passing through the Cova (the boiler of an extinct volcano), not to mention Alto Mira, Planalto Leste, Pico da Cruz, Corvo, Vale do Paul, Passagem, Lombo de Boi or Ponta do Sol Lighthouse… there is so much to explore.
The hard part is getting the energy for all of it. To the list also add Fontainhas, in Ribeira Grande, which in 2016 was voted by National Geographic as the second village with the most beautiful view in the world! This distinction has attracted more and more tourists and has placed Santo Antão on the route of nature destinations, all over the world.
The feasts of São João of Porto Novo constitute one of the greatest traditions of the island of Santo Antão and a reference of the Juninas Feasts throughout the archipelago. Elevated to Municipal Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2013, the feasts of São João in Porto Novo attract more and more tourists and already integrate the Cultural agenda of the country. The party starts at the beginning of June, with the preparation of the “rosaries” of São João, the “ships”, and the collars and tambourines that are tuning the compass for the famous “Kola San Jon”.
Porto Novo, Ribeira Grande and Paul have several inns, hotels and rural tourism houses, where you can enjoy some traditions and experiences of Cape Verdean way of being and living. The island is investing heavily in the tourist accommodations and there are more and more housing units coming up.
The gastronomy of Santo Antão is rich and varied, it has to be, it is an agricultural and fishing island. Fish and seafood, where the traditional Lobster or a good grilled Garropa stands out, not forgetting the famous Cachupa of Cabo Verde or the typical Kid’s Stew with beans. For dessert you can always taste a fruit of the season or surrender to a delicious white goat cheese accompanied with sweet or jams of papaya or guava.
In any of the three municipalities you will find stores with souvenirs based on local products such as grog, jams, and liqueurs, but also handicrafts and costume jewelry produced from natural raw materials, such as banana leaf or seeds. The cloth dolls or a drum of São João give great memories.