Exchange your currency into Cape Verde Escudos.
Whether your home currency is UK pounds, US dollars, or Euros, I strongly recommend that you pay all transactions with Cape Verde Escudos. Euros are widely accepted on the island. However, to obtain the current exchange rate you will have to exchange your money at a bank.
Pre-book your taxi pickup or car rental.
In order to prevent taxi drivers from overcharging tourists arriving at the airport. For instance, a taxi ride for two from the Airport to Hotel Marine clube officially costs 20€. If you’re planning on staying in a four- or five-star all-inclusive resort, transportation will probably be provided. Otherwise, I strongly recommend that you make arrangements with your hotel or resort to pre-book your airport pickup. Even though the first roads was built less than 8 years ago, the car market has been booming in Boa Vista ever since tariffs on imported used cars were substantially reduced. Today, there’s fierce competition among the island’s numerous rental car companies to meet demand in the fast-growing tourist market.
To get the best possible rate and make sure that you get the 4X4 model you want, advance booking is necessary, especially if you’re traveling during high-volume periods like Christmas, Carnaval or Easter. For large families and groups, 4×4 is the best option. The road infrastructure is still quite primitive, so you can expect a bumpy and curvy ride. Don’t forget to buckle up!
Important items to bring
Sunscreen, hat, shades. Although most people nowadays are aware of possible harm from the sun, some still neglect the care of their skin. On Boa Vista, with its geographical location, exposure to UV is quite high. Sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses are musts. This is especially important if you plan to go sailing offshore. Because of the sea breeze, you won’t feel the sunburn until later at night. Walking shoes. While flip-flops, “crocs” and other trendy loose-fitting footwear may go great on the beach or patio, you may want a good pair of walking shoes for hiking, or exploring the Island. Backpack. You don’t want to be walking around juggling your beach towels, camera, wallet and water bottle (always make sure you carry a drink to keep yourself hydrated). So a backpack is worth bringing. Electrical voltage converter. Make sure to ask your hotel ahead of time what sort of electrical power will be available to you. I’m sure I’m not the only one who can’t get through the day without my cell phone, iPod, laptop and camera. On Boa Vista this calls for caution, because electricity on the island comes “out of the wall” at a whopping 220 volts..
Give a firm “No” to hawkers and peddlers.
Another thing you can be sure of is that some of Boa Vista “freelance merchants” will approach you and try to sell their goods and services, while you’re on your way to the grocery store, or lying on the sandy beach. Some of these good folks can be quite insistent. They may have a right to ask. You also have a right to refuse. But don’t be defensive or arrogant. Smile, and firmly answer “No,” and they’ll leave you alone.
Travel with certified tour guides.
When it comes to hiring a guide for an excursion, you should know that not everyone offering their services is a certified guide. If you require a guide to tour the island, contact the activity center at your hotel to put you in touch with a certified guide, or ask someone you trust to recommend one.
Ask before you photograph.
Some Boa Vista Kriolos do not enjoy being photographed. Let’s just say I found out the hard way while shopping at the local market. Always ask for permission before taking a picture of local inhabitants.
Make sure you check in at the airport
For some reason that I can’t explain, departing flights from St. Lucia often get overbooked. Even with my return flight already bought and scheduled, I was once told that my seat had been given away to someone else…because I had arrived only 30 minutes prior to my departure time! Allow even more time if you have a connecting flight: be at the airport at least two hours before your departure time…
When shopping at the local craft and food markets
Don’t forget to bargain for the best price. Local merchants will sell their goods at a much higher price when dealing with tourists. Maybe it’s because I’m still working my way through school, but I don’t see why I should have to pay twice as much the going price for my tomatoes. Simply be aware that you can bargain with merchants. Chances are that once you start walking away from their stand, they’ll agree to sell at your price. Try it, and you’ll see!
When shopping for groceries, keep your meat and dairy products cold. For perishable grocery items, buy one or two bags of ice at the cash. On Boa Vista, a 15-minute drive is long enough to thaw a frozen steak. When it comes to quality, try the local market in Sal Rei near Esplanada bar. It’s a lot fresher and tastier, too.
Leave doors and windows closed
In the daytime. Most people leave their doors and windows wide open throughout the day. Don’t do this, especially if you have no screens. By nighttime you may find that an entire ant colony has migrated onto your kitchen wall. Closing doors and windows is also a security precaution, which applies on Boa Vista like anywhere else in the world. If there is a safe in your hotel or residential office, you may prefer to keep your valuables there.
Tipping is at your discretion. A tip of 10% is usually expected for taxi drivers, guides and other service sector workers.
Waterports and Tours
We strongly recommend you book with Boavista kite
Restaurants and nightlife
You will find a selection of restaurants in the main towns offering local Creole dishes as well as some international cuisine and many will have live Cape Verdean music at least once a week. Boa Vista do not have such a wide selection of restaurants and dishes and the limited menu may well be what they have prepared on the day. Prices vary, but expect to pay the equivalent of between €25-30 for a three course meal with wine.
Below are a couple of examples of the best and most popular Creole dishes:
- Cachupa – Cape Verde’s national dish, a slow cooked stew made with beans and fish or meat.
- Buzio – A tasty traditional stew made with shellfish and soya sauce.
- Bolo de Cus-Cus – A delicious cake made with corn and sugar, usually served warm with butter and cabra cheese.
Of particular note is the abundance of freshly caught seafood including tuna, wahoo, bica and lobster. Vegetarians are increasingly well catered for in hotels with many offering a vegetarian dish or cooking something to order. In local restaurants however, choice is more limited with a pasta dish or omelette typically offered.