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Boa Vista (Cape Verde) with children: the "no stress" island of dunes

Italian version

This past December I had the idea of going on a quick winter sun vacation with my husband, mom and two girls (who turned 2 and 4 in December).
Not wanting to spend 10+ hours on a plane to go to the Maldives or Kenya, I found a solution that was perfect both for distance and easy on our budget: Cape Verde!

boavista capoverde
Boavista beach

Never heard of Cape Verde? Don’t worry, neither did my mother, doorman or daughter’s nursery school teacher. Cape Verde, a former Portuguese colony, is a spattering of 10 islands located in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Western Africa.
With a mild climate and virtually no rainfall, Cape Verde is the perfect destination all year round.
The two islands with non-stop connections from Italy are Sal and Boa Vista. Both are in the Barlavento (windward) group of the archipelago and are the closest to mainland Africa. We opted for the slightly less touristy island of Boa Vista – which has a direct flight from Milan and just a short stop in neighboring Sal on the return.
I wasn’t sure what to expect but Aristides Pereira Airport was definitely not it. With tropical heat, a laid back atmosphere and an open-air passport control, it felt more like I had just landed in the Caribbean. We got our luggage, breezed through customs and after a quick ride to our hotel and we were officially relaxing in paradise.
boavista con bambini
Jennifer with her family

The main attraction on Boa Vista is of course the beaches. With over 55 km of pristine beaches and hardly any people in sight, it’s no wonder that the island is becoming increasingly popular with tourists. Boa Vista is also famous for it’s sand dunes, traditional music, sea turtles and laid back locals.
You’ll see the motto “no stress” everywhere and Cape Verdians often throw it into sentences: “come look around my shop, no stress”. The land itself is extremely dry – in fact the middle of the island is an extension of the Sahara  – and surrounded by the cold, rough waters of the Atlantic. If you go during the right season (August-September) you could be lucky enough to see sea turtles laying eggs in the sand.
As for the sites, a €3 taxi ride will take you to the capital Sal Rei. If you’ve never been to Africa or other third-world countries before, be prepared to fight off hawkers and haggle all prices. Hawkers sometimes even claim to work at your hotel and offer to take you sightseeing. Don’t be fooled – it’s just a tactic to bring you to a friend or family member’s souvenir shop. There are also quite a few good Cape Verdian, Portuguese or Italian run restaurants in Sal Rei.
To see the rest of the island you can rent a pick-up truck or 4×4 with a driver and do half day or full day tours to see the barren landscapes, untouched beaches and quaint pastel colored towns dotted around the island.  There is also the Deserto de Viana – a large stretch of desert that covers most of the northwestern corner of the island – and the remains of a shipwreck from 1968 on Santa Maria beach. If your kids are a little older, you can go on a quad tour to see the sights.
For accommodation, there are only about 10 or so hotels on the island and most of them are big resorts with all-inclusive plans. We chose the Marine Club Beach Resort because it is smaller and quieter than the larger RIU and Iberostar chains but still had enough amenities for a family. The hotel is made up of on one side quaint little villas running up a rocky hill overlooking the ocean with older rooms on the other side behind the pool.
Marine Club Beach Resort
A little villa of Marine Club Beach Resort

We stayed in a two bedroom villa and it was clean with a charming little terrace but very basic. There was no tub to give the kids a bath (luckily my two year old was pretty good about taking a shower) and they did not have a kettle to heat up milk. In compensation, the staff (a mix of Italians and locals) was extremely kid-friendly and the restaurant with buffet-style meals also had a large selection which would appease even the pickiest eaters.
Overall Boa Vista is a beautiful island with amazing colors, good food and warm people. So “no stress” and enjoy the beach!
 

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Ciao! Sono Valentina

Valentina Besana

Mi chiamo Valentina Besana, adoro viaggiare con il mio compagno e i nostri due figli di 10 e 13 anni. Da quando siamo una famiglia sono sempre alla ricerca di mete kids friendly che amo condividere su questo blog.

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