Exploring Tourism in Cape Verde
Cape Verde
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Maio Island

Maio, Cape Verde

Maio Island

Maio is an African tropical pearl of raw nature, reminding us of how near we are to the desert regions of North Africa. The pure, immense beaches which envelop the whole island are chosen by turtles to yearly lay their eggs, as in the islands of Boavista and Sal to the North. This is an extremely delicate moment for the preservation of this species and all the effort that is taken to keep the necessary natural conditions for the laying of the eggs is extremely important.

On Maio Island it is also possible to capture wild donkeys using a method similar to the rodeos of the new continent, always drawing the attention of the local people.

The town of Maio is the capital of the island. It is also sometimes called the Vila do Porto Inglês. This name has its roots in the frequent presence in times gone by of British ships, which transported salt. At one time it was strategic in world history, but has now lost most of its importance. It is not surprising, therefore, that the salt mines, mainly visible between the airport and the town of Maio, are now semi-abandoned. Once they were an important economic mainstay of the archipelago.

The capital is calm and sleepy but quite attractive in its social gatherings. The traveller should not miss the Parish Church, the São José Lighthouse and also the Maio Castle. They date from the founding of the town and the castle, as does the fort of Ribeira Grande in Santiago.

But the calmness of the Cape Verde people does not allow them to do without their game of cards, especially the jogo-rei game, bisca. And above all there is the excitement that the local music, in all its varieties, brings to the streets. One of the most interesting is the funaná, played and sung to the captivating sound of the gaita or concertina and the ferrinho, a metal bar with teeth which, when scraped with another metal stick, beats out the rhythm of the dancers.

To the north, Calheta is also of interest. It is a fisherman´s village on a small bay. The coast adjoins the largest forest area of Cape Verde, comprising mainly acacias. Contrasting markedly with the almost desert areas which dominate the island, this green belt, the largest in the archipelago, is crossed by furrows covered with whitish dust. It is inhabited by many flocks of guinea fowl.

As local handicrafts are usually of interest to the traveller, the Pottery Centre at Calheta should not be missed. The pottery only operates intermittently, but is a significant link to traditional kitchen utensils and local decoration.

The beaches, in general small but very inviting, are the main attraction of Maio Island. Some of the better known ones are Praia Preta, Praia Real, Pau Seco, Porto Cais, Bitche RotchaBoca do Morro and Praia da Lagoa.

The traveller should not forget that, if the objective is to discover enchanting places which are not in the guide books, the whole island is surrounded by gorgeous beaches with inviting waters.

A trip by the South and East of Maio provides opportunities to get to know the friendly people of the island, from Figueira Horta to Barreiro, to Pilão Cão, Pedro Vaz and Alcatraz, Praia Gonçalo, Santo António and Cascabulho.

Whoever visits Maio can take the opportunity to not only enjoy the sun and beaches but also watch the fishermen bringing in their catch of many different kinds of fish from these cool and pleasant waters. It is also possible to go diving and enjoy the fabulous sea fauna. And finally, visitors can have a relaxing rest on an enchanting island whose essence has until now escaped the transformation which is tormenting the world.

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