San Nicolau, Cape Verde

Sao Nicolau is a picturesque island located in the northern part of Cape Verde, 50 km long and 25 km wide. In the distant past, powerful volcanic activity was observed on the island, which gave San Nicolau a mountainous terrain. The highest point of the island is Mount Monte Gordo (Monte Gordo, 1304 m).

Note: according to allcitypopulation, the population of Cape Verde is 561,901 (2021).

The capital is the city of Ribeira Brava. The major city is Tarrafal.

How to get to San Nicolau

Preguiça Airport, located 5 km southeast of the capital, receives domestic flights from TACV from Praia (Santiago), Sala and São Vicente. Taxi fare to Ribeira Brava ~ 400-600 CVE, public transport ~ 100 CVE.

The Sotavento e Barlavento ferries anchor at Tarrafal port twice a week from Mindelo (Sao Vicente). The Tarrafal ferry runs to Santiago twice a week.


Buses run throughout the day from the capital of Ribeira Brava to Tarrafal and Juncalinho, as well as between Tarrafal and the northern coast of the island, fare 220 CVE.

Taxi fare from Ribeira Brava to Fajã ~ 1000 CVE, to Tarrafal – 2000 CVE.

San Nicolau Hotels

You can stay at the Ribeira Brava and Tarrafal pensions, as well as at the Tarrafal 3 * hotel with 200 rooms.


The black sand beach of Tarrafal is rich in iodine and titanium and is recommended for the treatment of arthritis and rheumatism. The best beach on the island is Baixo Rocha.

Attractions and attractions San Nicolau

For many years, the island has been the cultural capital of the archipelago and the literary cradle of Cape Verde. Here, in 1936, their own literary movement “Claridade” (“clarity”) was born, the participants of which were the writers Baltazar and Manuel Lopes, Jorge Barbosa and others.

One of the interesting sights of the island is the Rotcha Scribida rock, where you can see ancient writings, the content of which has not yet been deciphered. There is a belief that these inscriptions were left by people who visited the island before it was discovered by Portuguese sailors. Currently, the inscriptions are in a rather poor condition, because they are not protected from the external environment in any way.

In the capital of the island, of interest is the parish church of Señora Nossa, built at the beginning of the 18th century, the ancient home of the Cape Verde Seminary. It is worth visiting the fortress built in the bay of São Jorge in the early 19th century, the fishing village of Preguiça.

Trekking in the mountains of São Nicolão, sport fishing (departure from the ports of Tarrafal and Preguiça), boat trips on the bay of Baía de São Jorge (the boat can be found on Carriçal beach), walks in the picturesque valleys of Fajã and Ribeira da Prata.

San Nicolau, Cape Verde