This island is almost entirely surrounded by beaches of white thin sand contrasting with: the blue of the crystalline warm waters. Praia Preta, Praia Real, Pau Seco, Porto Cais, Bitche Rotcha and Boca do Morro are some of the most well known beaches.
Visiting the island means to shelter oneself in an almost wild world which invites to rest and to embark in a diving adventure to enjoy the extremely rich maritime fauna. Very common and seasonal is the appearance of turtles that choose these pure beaches to spawn.
Although stark, stockbreeding has a significant expression and even nowadays the capture of wild donkeys in a sort of rodeo is a highly appreciated event.
From the airport to Vila do Maio (Maio Village), the main urban centre, the distance travelled offers a view over the salt works that were an important economic resource in the past and are now abandoned.
Vila do Maio, also known as Vila do Porto Ingles (British Port Village) due to the continuous presence of British boats which in the past transported the salt, is dominated by the peace and quiet its inhabitants make a point of preserving. Its main monuments cannot be overlooked, for they marked the history of the development of the island: the grandiose Igreja Matriz (mother church), Maio’s Castle (built in the XVIII century as a defence against pirates) and Farol de São José (S. Jose lighthouse).
Other interesting places include a little up to the north, Calheta, a fishing village with a charming bay and home to the largest forest area of the country made up of acacia trees, refuge to the only wild fauna, the “galinha do mato” (hazel grouse). The pottery centre is also admirable and there the visitor can observe and buy remarkable examples of the Cape Verdean handicraft tradition. More to the north, towards the interior, another small and peaceful village – Cascabulho – reveals its wonderful handicraft, this time in tapestry.