The name Boa Vista means 'good view' and it is the most eastern island of Cape Verde and the one nearest to the African Continent which is 455km to the west.
It is the third largest island after Santo Antao Island and Santiago Island. The length of the island is 31km north to south at the longest point and the width is 29km west to east at the longest point. Boa Vista Island has 55kms of white sandy beaches. It covers an area of 620m2 and has a population of 3,353. It has the smallest population of all the Cape Verde islands (excepting the 3 north western which are uninhabited).
Most of the population live in the capital “Sal Rei" which means "Salt King", as the town is named after the salt production business which used to be important on Boa Vista Island, but there are many smaller settlements. Much of the island is flat with the highest point being Monte Estancia which elevates 287m. Other mountains include Santo Antonio and Monte Negro. The main industries today are date farming and tourism. The climate is influenced by the hot dry winds from the Sahara.
Boa Vista is 12 minutes by air taxi from Sal Island which has an international airport. The main town of the island Sal Rei has a ferry port and also the island's airport which lies on the north west side of the island. The island is well known for marine turtles, traditional music, sand dunes and beaches.
Urgent international efforts are needed to conserve West Africa's sea turtles as studies show that the region holds some of the world's most important feeding and nesting sites, many of them under threat. The International University Campus for studies and conservation of marine turtles holds field camps for the study and conservation of nesting marine turtles each year Boa Vista Island and students from both Europe and Cape Verde participate. The field caps work from June to October each year since 1999 as Boa Vista Island offers excellent nesting habitat for nesting loggerhead turtles - Caretta caretta. Most of this activity takes places on the east coast beaches at nght.
There is not an abundance of wildlife on Boa Vista Island but it includes lizards, monkeys, wild goats and a variety of birds. The main minerals are pozzolana which is a volcanic rock used for making cement and salt.
Boa Vista offers excellent conditions for all watersports including sailing, diving, surfing, fishing, sea canoeing and cycling. Better known as Santa Monica, Curralinho beach is one of the most beautiful beaches of Cape Verde and certainly the archipelago's largest.
It is possible to see much of the island either by self drive car or with the services of a local guide. The main sites of interest include the many extensive white sanded beaches including Chave beach and Curralinho beach. Head inland from Chave beach you may find evidence of the former production of ceramic tiles and bricks etc. A small craft centre is developing here.
At present, there is limited accommodation on Boa Vista Island, therefore it is advisable to book well in advance.
Boa Vista was discovered on the 3rd of May, 1480, after Maio Island, Santiago Island and Fogo Island, and was first named S.Cristovao. The name Boa Vista has its origin in the exclamation "Captain, good sight (boa vista)", instead of the traditional "Land at sight", due to the joy of a sailor in the dormer window of a sailing vessel which faced a fearful tempest. Initially dependent on one of the ports under the command of a captain on Santiago Island, the occupancy of that island started in 1497, when it was given to Captain Rodrigo Afonso for the raising of cattle in the hands of a small number of shepherds. Its adult population began in 1620.
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