Ships in the Harbour on Sao Vicente Island, Cape Verde
Cape Verde

Get to and Travel between the Islands in Cape Verde

Info on travelling between the islands in Cape Verde, including options by plane or ferry, and potential complications from delays…

We were fortunate to have the people at Nobai help us with our travel arrangements. Travelling between the islands in Cape Verde can be a bit of a logistical nightmare, with the different options involved.

santo antao island atlantic ocean cape verde
View of Santo Antão, crossing the Atlantic ocean on the ferry from São Vicente

To compound the problem for us (or rather, Lucille, form Nobai, who arranged our inter-island transportation), volcanic activity on Fogo disrupted flights to and between the southern islands.

port furna brava island cape verde kriola fast ferry
View from the Kriola Fast Ferry, of the commercial port of Furna on Brava Island

Getting There

Getting to Cape Verde is easy, with connections from most major European cities. Flights from The Netherlands to Cape Verde take off from both Amsterdam, Schipol (with TAP Portugal). Our flight had a short transfer in Lisbon. Transavia used to do direct flights from Rotterdam, as it has the largest community of Cape Verdeans outside the islands. However, Transavia change their routes to Cape Verde frequently, so make sure to check their website.

Esplanadia Rotterdam port of Palmeira Sal island cape verde
The Esplanada Rotterdam, a restaurant in the port of Palmeira, the main port of Sal island

Getting Between Islands

We would strongly recommend to have your inter-island travel organised by Nobai, or another travel agency, especially if you are tight with time. Timetables for flights and ferries are more of a suggestion than an actual schedule, and your ride may be delayed, departed or cancelled when you arrive. We had experienced delays of up to 3 hours. A reputable agency will help you take care of things, like rebooking of hotels, in case of delays and cancellations.

rusty boat on beach Sal island cape verde
Beach near Salinas, the salt mine on Sal Island. Looks like this is where old ships come to die

By Plane

The best way to get around is by plane. Tickets are around €50. They are more expensive than ferries, but are completely worth it. There are two operators, TAP Portugal and TACV, the Cape Verdian national airline.

Not all the major islands have working airports. Currently, Brava and Santo Antão are not serviced by plane. Also, not all the working airports are directly connected to each other either. Frequency of flights vary from airport to airport. From Praia to São Vicente there are 2 flights daily, while from Praia to Maio, there are only two weekly.

Getting from Brava to Santo Antão

I will highlight the way to get between Brava and Santo Antão as they are two of Cape Verde’s most beautiful, isolated and un-touristed islands. Although they are difficult to get to, they were the highlights of our trip, and worth the effort. Since these are the two major Cape Verdean islands not serviced by plane, getting between them required planning with ferries.

Faja de Agua Brava cape verde airport
The airport at Fajã de Água, a village in Brava. It is now closed down due to strong winds

To get from Brava to Santo Antão, we had, first, to take a ferry to Santiago. This ride was about 4 – 5 hours and very choppy. Because ferries are unreliable, you can’t count on them arriving on time for your flight. From Santiago, we flew out to São Vicente, from where we caught the ferry to Santo Antão.

Residencial GOA Mindelo São Vicente, ship wreck, cape verde
Shipwreck spotted in the bay of Mindelo, São Vicente

By Ferry

We do not advise going by boat, unless you absolutely have to, as the Atlantic is very rough. I usually experience a low level of sea-sickness, but on the ship from Santiago to Brava (a torturous four hour + ride), it was barely under control. Another couple we met called it the “Nightmare Fast Ferry” or, more descriptively, “Vomit Express”. Even if you don’t experience sea-sickness, the ferry is seldom on-time.

Cape Verde Sal Island Tour, Salinas, Sal island, Cape Verde
Huge, rusty, propeller left on the beach of Pedra de Lume

Once a week (but again, this is not guranteed) the ferry goes to São Nicolau. This is the same ferry that services the Praia, Fogo, Brava route, and on the day it goes to São Nicolau, you can be certain your arrival to your destination will be delayed by hours. Our guide gave as an example of someone’s arrival to Santao Antão being delayed by almost 12 hours due to this. Thankfully, we did not have to take the ferry on such a day.

view of Fogo from Brava island, cape verde
View of Fogo from Brava, about a month after the Fogo volcano erupted

Unfortunately, we had to take the ferry due to the volcanic activity on Fogo. Our agent had booked us into the VIP room of the Kriola Fast Ferry, due to regular tickets being sold out. Not a good idea. The air-conditioner wasn’t working and it was at the front of the ship, which, if you’re prone to sea-sickness, is the worst place to be in. We absolutely cannot recommend taking the ferry unless utterly necessary.

Cape Verde Sal Island Tour, Terra Boa, Espargos, Sal Island, Cape Verde, terra boa sal island fata morgana cape verde
Bar and a little minimart in Terra Boa, a popular stop for tourists on an island day tour of Sal, to view the fata morgana

Getting Around on the Islands of Cape Verde

Moving from town to town within islands can be achieved by hired taxis or by walking. A lot of Cape Verde is still very rural, and there are villages that can only be reached by hiking. Most of the paths to these villages are fairly well kept and paved with basalt cobblestone built during the era of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

nova sintra hiking on brava cape verde cloud forest
The beginning of our hike just off the town of Nova Sintra, through the cloud forests of the Brava island, Cape Verde

FAQs for Transportation in and around Cape Verde

How to travel between islands on Cape Verde

You can travel between islands with plane or ferry. Planes are more expensive but quicker and more pleasant. Journeys by ferry are often delayed by hours, but sometimes, they are your only option. Read More

Getting to Cape Verde

TAP Portugal provides affordable flights from most major European cities like London and Amsterdam.

Getting within the islands of Cape Verde

You can hire taxis within the islands of Cape Verde. These will take you beyond the town you hired them in to different locations on the islands. There are also many villages which are only accessible via hiking.