The shores of the Cape Verde islands are one of two vital breeding sites for whales in the North Atlantic. Whale sightings on the south and southwest coast of Boa Vista are frequent from December to April, when shoals of humpback whales come to Cape Verde to give birth, eat and breed.
In March and April – their breeding time – you're likely to catch them at their most agile, jumping in and out of the water. You can take a three-hour excursion to enjoy the magic of this special experience.
Boa Vista also boasts the third largest population of nesting loggerhead turtles in the world, making it one of the most important places for conservation of the species. The best time for turtle watching is June to September at Hope in the north and Ervatao and Cosme Point in the southeast. But ensure you go with a reputable company when taking part in a turtle-spotting excursion so as not to disturb the creatures too much.
You'll feel like you've hit the jackpot when you land on this beautiful island, which is a relatively short-haul flight from the UK – just over six hours – for such a tropical location. You can have the miles of unspoilt coastline virtually to yourself as you walk on a warm evening at sunset, and with many Boa Vista All Inclusive hotels just a few steps away from the sand, you'll be there in a jiffy.
With all it's water activities the island is a great spot for all the family – wind and kite surfing can be enjoyed in the winter months when the wind is reliable and the weather's hot. You can also go diving, take a quad biking tour, try horse-riding, or even book yourself onto a deep-sea fishing trip - you might even catch a barracuda.
Festivals are an important and colourful pastime for Cape Verdeans. During the third week of August, you'll be able to enjoy the Festival of Music of Praia de Santa Cruz, which attracts artists from other islands and abroad.
If you're booking Cape Verde holiday packages in June or July, the Municipality Festival of Santa Isabel is the place to be. Santa Isabel is the patron saint of the island and this well-organised festivity pulls in the crowds. It has traditional live music, crafts and food stalls, horse-racing, a ball, and a colourful procession, with all the pomp and ceremony you'd expect as they commemorate their patron saint.
Idyllic urban life
Sal Rei is the capital of Boa Vista and means 'salt king' in Portuguese from when sea salt used to be the main production here. And though many of the islands' inhabitants live here, it hardly feels busy.
The capital has all the amenities you need but it's also a lovely place to get a feel of the islanders' lifestyle. There are an abundance of African goods for sale on the main plaza Praca de Santa Isabel, where you can browse the remarkable wood carvings including masks and colourful cloth batiks. The church - Igreja da Santa Isabel – stands next to Praca de Santa Isabel, and is an example of colonial style architecture with a decorative Baroque facade in shades of sand and blue.
From Sal Rei port you can take a ferry to some of the other islands including Praia, the largest of the islands – Santiago – and one of the most popular islands for tourists Sal.
The uninhabited islet of Ilheu de Sal Rei, with deserted coves, lies in Sal Rei's harbour. Hop across for a romantic picnic, then visit Duque de Braganca fort – a garrison built to ward off pirates who were looking to plunder the island's exports such as salt, cotton and ceramics in the 19th century.