They say that Brava is the most beautiful of the Cape Verde islands.
Actually, it’s a cute, small jewel in the middle of the ocean encircled by tiny islets. You can hike around the island in just a couple of hours. There are colorfully painted buildings, surrounded by pretty flowers…and pure serenity.
From Island to Island
Travelling between the islands is not always that easy. It strongly depends on which route you choose. Brava, the smallest and southernmost of the inhabited islands, does not even have an airport.
It’s a bit tricky to plan your Brava visit ahead because the ferry doesn’t go when the sea is too rough. So if you’re coming from Santiago, the best way is to plan a stay in Fogo and possibly go to Brava on short notice. Since there is not too much to do there, a stay of one or two days will be sufficient, anyway.
You can check out their schedule on their website, but stay flexible and avoid at any cost going to Brava at the end of your stay when you depend on reliable transport to an international airport.
Vila Nova Sintra
The ferry takes you to the port of Furna. There, disembarking in front of the massive mountain wall is one of the most impressive moments in Brava. Most travellers – thus on the ferry I took, I was the only tourist… – stay in Vila Nova Sintra, a romantic, picturesque place with adorable little houses lining charming narrow streets. To get here, you can take one of the Aluguers, the private taxis waiting at the port. Having your accommodation send an Aluguer for you is certainly a good option. A ride to Vila Nova Sintra should be around 6 €uro.
Vila Nova Sintra – named, obviously, after Sintra in Portugal – is said to be the prettiest town in all of Cape Verde. I don’t know about that, but it is certainly very picturesque and well-maintained. Also, it deems a bit wealthier than other parts which is correct. As I pointed out in the main post, there are many Cape Verdians in the diaspora sending either money to the homeland or coming back to retire. Therefore, the old colonial houses were restored and kept in good condition.
The town’s very tranquil center is the Praça Eugénio Tavares with a statue of this island’s most famous son.
The island is called Ilha das Flores – which translates to Isle of flowers – for a reason: It is gorgeous and overgrown with lush greenery and many…flowers.
You should cherish that by hiking.
Taking a Dip
If you want to take a dip in the inky-blue ocean, there are two natural pools next to the port of Furna.
However, the water can be unpredictable and dangerous with currents and big waves – so I would choose Brava rather for hiking and enjoying the beautiful plants – and the ocean just from afar.
Taking a Hike
I took the popular hike from Vila Nova Sintra crossing Nossa Senhora do Monte to Faja d’Água, which is a 6 kilometers respectively 4 miles hike.
It took me – including many photo stops of the breathtaking views – about two hours.
At Faja d’Água I walked the main – at the same time only – road up and down twice, passing kids whispering in awe turista to each other. So that gives you an idea of how many turistas they must have seen before.
Before taking the ferry back to Fogo, I wanted to take another short hike up to João d’Nole.
In the afternoon there is a dense fog going down on Brava – within minutes you cannot see your hand before the eyes. The fog covers also the pavement, makes it all wet, and turns it into chutes.
Of course, I slipped and fell and landed in an unforeseen complicated yoga position and hurt my ankle really, really bad!
And I was still lucky that I didn’t rip all the ligaments in my knee from this ‘sporty’ position. So this teaches me – and hopefully you – to always wear adequate hiking shoes with a good grip sole.
Practical Information on Brava
How to get there and around
As I explained above, not only is Brava an island that’s not accessible by plane, but also the ferry service to Fogo is limited. It also strongly depends on the weather conditions.
You can check the ferry schedule on this website, but stay flexible and avoid at any cost tight schedules at the end of your stay when you depend on reliable transport to an international airport.
There is no public transportation on the island of Brava. You can take a cab or an aluguer, a shared cab.
However, most of the time, you’ll be hiking, anyway.
Another remnant from the Portuguese colonial times is the name of the local currency which is called – just like in Portugal until the installment of the €uro – Escudo respectively Escudo de Cabo Verde, abbreviated CVE. For 1 US$ you get 105 CVE, for a €uro 110 CVE (as per November 2022). You can check the current rate here.
Many hotels in Cape Verde decline credit cards due to the cost of clearance through Portugal. Sometimes, they accept some foreign currency like €uros, however, there usually is a disproportionate surcharge. Pre-payment of hotels, for instance, is therefore advisable. Credit cards are only accepted in the largest hotels and seldom at shops or restaurants.
In 2014, Banco Commercial do Atlântico installed the first ATM in the town of Fajã on Brava.
As Cape Verde used to be a Portuguese colony, the official language is Portuguese, but people speak krioulo. This is a local patois and, like many dialects, differs a tiny bit even from island to island.
People on Brava do speak some English, but it is certainly helpful to have some basic knowledge of the local language.
Before my trip, I’d practiced using babbel. The first lesson is free and supplies you with the most important words to interact with people.
Where to Sleep
Since Brava is a bit off the beaten track, only a handful of suitable accommodations exists. You can check them out here*Booking.com
I stayed at a small guest house in the heart of the town – namely Pensão Paulo Sena*.
I stayed in a comfy room – a bit like spending the night at grandma’s. The breakfast was fine and the – pre-ordered – dinner just amazing. If you are rather into homey and quirky than into posh, I can really recommend it.
Where to Eat
Brava is still a pretty hidden gem so don’t expect there a main road lined with restaurants. I believe that your best option is to have a home-cooked meal at your accommodation. If that’s not an option, try Esplanada Sodadi, a cozy place right on the Praça Eugénio Tavares, the main square. However, do not expect either star cuisine or a very varied menu – by the way, anywhere on the islands.
Do you want to read about all the other beautiful islands I’ve visited in Cape Verde? Then go to the main post and take your pick!
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Note: I am completing, editing, and updating this post regularly – last in July 2022.
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