General tips for your vacation on Cabo Verde

Planning my vacation on Cabo Verde, I crossed one or the other challenge. Starting with the domestic flights but also the transportation on the islands. This is a little guide for you with tips for your vacation on Cabo Verde.

At the beginning of 2023, I visited four of the nine inhabited islands of Cabo Verde (in English it is actually called Cape Verde but the country prefers the name Cabo Verde, which I will therefore use in this post). First, I went to the main island of Santiago with the capital Praia. From there I flew to São Vicente to visit the cultural island with its capital Mindelo. A ferry brought me to a hiking weekend on Santo Antão. My last stop was the vacation dream of Sal, a paradise for surfers with perfect beaches.
I started planning my trip about half a year beforehand and had to overcome one or the other challenge when booking my trip but also on site. This is why I want to share all my tips to make it easier for you. 

Cabo Verde uses Cabo-Verde-Escudo (CVE). But most islands also take Euros. It is very common on the more touristic islands Sal and Boa Vista. Here you can also pay in coins, the other islands usually only take bills. In general, it is also way cheaper to pay in the local currency. If you pay in Euros most people change 1 € to 100 CVE which is a weaker calculation. In general, it is also really common to pay by credit card.

Good to know is also that you are not allowed to bring Escudos outside of Cabo Verde therefore it is also not possible to change the money beforehand in your home country.

Arriving on Cabo Verde

Depending on which island you are flying to you will arrive in different cities. The most touristic islands are Sal and Boa Vista and therefore offer also the cheapest flights. So you will probably arrive eighter way on SID or BVC. One important piece of information is that no matter which island you are flying to there is no public transport coming and going to the airport. Therefore you will need to take a taxi or arrange something in the beginning (a lot of accommodations offer a pick-up).

Public Transport

Cabo Verde has no public transport but Colectivos (also called Aluger) which locals use to travel over the island. Colectivos are mini buses usually of the brand Toyota Hiace and drive around the main streets of the islands and stop in the different towns. But you can also pull them in on the way or ask the drivers to drop you off in between towns (I used this on São Vicente to go to the airport since the main street between Mindelo and São Pedro crosses the airport). The mini buses are also safe to use by tourists. There is usually one common stop in every city from where all Colectivos leave. In the capital Praia, the busses stop in the street in front of the big market called Sucupira Market. In São Vicente they stop in the city centre around the markets. You can also easily ask locals to help you find the right stop or take a look at the official app of Cabo Verde (see below).

A Colectivo at the market in Praia

The prices are usually fixed and way cheaper than the taxis. Anyway, you should ask the driver for the price before entering the bus so you don’t get caught by surprise. You pay the driver when you arrive at your destination. The driver has usually enough money to give you a change in case you don’t have it fitting.

It is the easiest to catch buses before 12 pm because then a lot of people use the minibuses. Because the driver will wait until the minibus is full (or he decides it is full enough) with people before he leaves (in this case I can say he – I really didn’t see one single female driver). Usually, a minibus has a spot for 15 people. You pay per seat so if you bring huge luggage you need to bring in the bus, you will need to pay extra if your luggage blocks a seat (sometimes you are lucky and they have a space in the small boot or a net on the bus). 

The drivers also use their minibuses to deliver items between the towns so do not worry if they stop to carry extra buckets.

Santo Antão: I felt it was a bit special on Santo Antão. Here the minibuses are way more often also used as taxis for tourists. You have to ask for an Aluguer Colectivo in order to share the minibus with locals otherwise it happens that the driver will try to give you an expensive single drive.

Prices for Colectivos in 2023

Praia to Tarafal: 600 CVE (5.40 € | 4.90 US$)
Praia to Cidade Velha: 100 CVE (0.90 € | 1 US$)

São Vicente:
Mindelo to São Pedro: 100 CVE (0.90 € | 1 US$)
Mindelo to Salamanca: 100 CVE (0.90 € | 1 US$)

Santo Antão:
Ferry to Paul: 350 CVE (3.15 € | 3.45 US$)
Ferry to Ribeira Grande: 450 CVE (4 € | 4.40 US$)
Ribeira Grande to Xoxo: 100 CVE (0.90 € | 1 US$)
Ribeira Grande to Ponta do Sol: 50 CVE (0.45 € | 0.50 US)

Santa Maria to Espargos 100 CVE (0.90 € | 1 US$)


Taxis are really common on all islands. The prices are usually negotiable. Also here you should make sure to ask the driver beforehand how much he wants for the ride. Especially from the airport the drivers sometimes try to make prices higher. It can help if you just switch taxis.

Prices for Taxis in 2023

Airport to Praia: 10 € (11 US$)

São Vicente:
Airport to Mindelo: 12 € (13 US$)

Santo Antão:
Ferry to Paul: 30 € (32.50 US$)

Airport to Santa Maria: 20 € (21.50 US$)
Airport to Espargos: 4 € (4.30 US$)

How to cross the islands

If you want to visit more than one island, you have two possibilities to cross over. The easiest but more expensive way is to take a flight. The second possibility is to take a ferry to cross the islands.

BestFly is the local flight company that offers different flights every day. If you choose to fly, you can buy your flights on the homepage of BestFly. At least if you are lucky – BestFly didn’t work with my Visa credit card and I read on the internet that many other people had the same problem. I wrote to a local travel agency which booked the flights for me. You can also buy the tickets last minute on the spot. But be aware that the airplanes are small and often booked out beforehand.

The main ferry company of Cabo Verde is called CV Interilhas.  Depending on where you want to go the ferry can take several hours, the longest direct ride takes 13 hours and 20 minutes between Santiago and São Vicente. The ferries are less reliable than the airplanes because the ships sometimes don’t leave on time because of damages or weather conditions. It can even happen that the ferries don’t leave the harbour for several weeks because of weather conditions. Locals told me that the only reliable ferry is the one from São Vicente to Santo Antão, since Santo Antão has no airport (but my tour guide from Santo Antão told me an airport is already planned). There are two different companies going between these two islands, one is the one I mentioned already above, and the other one is called ARMAS – Nôsd Ferry (this ferry has no website, you can buy the tickets at the harbour of Mindelo and Porto Novo).

❗️ A little tip from my side: Bring some medication against travel sickness if you are not sure how resistant you are against strong swells. One positive point though: I heard a lot of people see dolphins and sometimes even whales when they cross the ocean on longer ferry rides. 

Tip: Official Cabo Verde App

In the end, I would like to recommend you download the official app of Cabo Verde. The app offers a little guide of every island showing you among other things where the Colectivos are leaving, some sightseeing points and hikes.

You have read the blog post Tips for your vacation on Cabo Verde on My Travel Journal-Blog.

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