Santo Antão is a hidden gem in the Atlantic Ocean that offers breathtaking landscapes, picturesque villages, and adventure-filled activities. With its rugged mountain trails and stunning views, this island is a nature lover’s paradise that will instantly steal your heart.
However, travelling to Santo Antão Island in Cape Verde can be an adventure in itself due to its remote location. Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or a first-time explorer, this guide will help you navigate your way to the island and ensure that your journey is as smooth as possible.
So pack your bags and save this blog post for the best tips on how to travel to Santo Antão Island, Cape Verde.
Flying from abroad to Cape Verde
The first step in getting to Santo Antao is to fly to Cape Verde.
Santo Antao doesn’t have an active airport anymore although there are talks of building a new one in the next couple of years.
This means you’ll have to fly into the nearby island of Sao Vicente (VXE) and then take a ferry to reach Santo Antao. This is the best and quickest option to reach Santo Antao.
There are multiple flights per week flying from Lisbon, Portugal (LIS) to Sao Vicente (VXE) operated by TAP Portugal throughout the year.
During peak season (between November and March) there are also regular direct flights from Luxembourg (LUX) to Sao Vicente (VXE).
You can often find great connection options with TAP Portugal from all over Europe and the US so don’t despair if there are no direct flights from your country.
Make sure to check skyscanner.com for the best flight deals and routes that suit your travel plan!
Other options to get to Santo Antao from abroad
Alternatively, you can also fly into one of the other islands in the archipelago that has regular international flights and then take a short domestic flight to Sao Vicente.
Your best options here are either flying into Praia (RAI) or Sal (SID).
You can fly to Praia (RAI) from:
- Lisbon, Portugal (LIS)
- Ponta Delgada, Portugal (PDL)
- Dakar, Senegal (DSS)
- Bissau, Guinea-Bissau (OXB)
- Casablanca, Morocco (CMN)
You can fly to Sal (SID) from:
- Lisbon, Portugal (LIS)
- Bristol, UK
- Birmingham, UK
- London, UK
- Manchester, UK
- Gran Canaria, Spain
- Paris, France
- Munich, Germany
- Dusseldorf, Germany
- Frankfurt, Germany
- Stuttgart, Germany
- Brussels, Belgium
- Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Eindhoven, Netherlands
- Luxembourg, Luxembourg
- Warsaw, Poland
- Milan, Italy
- Verona, Italy
- Helsinki, Finland
- Gothenburg, Sweden
- Stockholm, Sweden
As you can see, there’s a lot more international flights flying into Praia and especially Sal which makes it even more accessible to visit Cape Verde wherever you’re coming from.
It also gives you the opportunity to explore another island in the archipelago before you head to Santo Antao.
How to get to Santo Antao from other islands in Cape Verde (via the domestic airline)
If you decide to fly into Sal or Praia first, whether it’s more convenient for you or you’ve decided to do some island hopping and explore more of Cape Verde, the next step is to get from those to Sao Vicente.
The best way to get between the islands is to fly via the local airline BestFly, the only airline in Cape Verde that operates domestic flights.
It’s worth noting that you won’t be able to find the domestic flights on Skyscanner, so the only way to check the schedule is through BestFly’s official website.
How to book your internal flight to Sao Vicente via BestFly
There’s two ways to book your internal flight to Sao Vicente:
1. The first option is to book the flight by yourself via the online booking system on BestFly’s official website.
First go on BestFly and select the flights you’re looking for through the search bar. There’s no way to select a calendar view with dates on the website so you kind of have to go through each date till you find the one that has a flight on.
You might notice that there’s a page on the website that shows a schedule with prices. I would suggest you ignore this page as it’s not very reliable and the flight dates may not always be accurate. That’s why it’s always best to look up the flights through the search bar.
Prices vary massively between dates so make sure to check a few different date options if your schedule is flexible.
Book your flight as soon as you’re sure about your dates as sometimes (especially during peak and holiday season) these get booked up really quick!
When booking the flight, keep in mind it doesn’t always work out from the first time. Everyone we’ve spoken to (including ourselves) had to go through the booking process multiple times before they’ve managed to secure their tickets.
Tips for booking your flight via BestFly’s website
Tip 1: Create an account with BestFly so that you don’t have to re-enter all your details if you can’t book your flight from the first time. It took us about four tries before our booking went through but it was all good at the end!
Tip 2: When entering your details you’ll notice there’s a section called BVV number which is compulsory to fill in. This refers to an agency number. But since you’re booking the flight yourself you can just add your passport number in this field as well as the designated passport number field. This is what we did and we had no issues!
I would highly recommend you book your flight yourself to avoid the hassle of trying to sort this out with a travel agent. Especially if you’re buying the tickets before you have arrived in Cape Verde.
But if for any reason you’re unable to book your flight through the online booking system, contacting a local agent is your next best choice to book your flights.
Booking your flight through a local travel agent
Most local travel agents are certified to book flights and even specialise in doing so.
While it’s usually best to get this sorted while you’re already in Cape Verde and can physically go into the travel agency’s office, this may not work for you if you’re on a tight schedule and don’t have enough time to book your flight a few days in advance.
So another alternative is to contact a couple of travel agencies in advance via email or Whatsapp message and ask them if they can book the flight for you before you arrive.
Getting from Sao Vicente’s airport (VXE) to the ferry port in Mindelo
Sao Vicente’s airport is located in the small town of Sao Pedro, a short 15-minute drive away from Mindelo where the ferry port is. There’s always multiple taxis waiting outside the arrivals terminal that can take you to the ferry port.
A one-way fare from Sao Vicente’s airport to ferry port in Mindelo costs between 1000 CVE and 1200 CVE ($10) and it takes between 15-20 minutes.
Tip: If you’re not pressed for time, it’s worth spending a couple of days on Sao Vicente. If not to visit the bustling cultural capital of Cape Verde, the city of Mindelo, then definitely for the one-of-a-kind experience of swimming with green turtles on the beach of Sao Pedro.
The beach is only a 5-minute drive from the airport and there are a couple of small hotels where you can stay the night and have the turtle experience before you continue your trip to Santo Antao.
Taking the ferry from Sao Vicente to Santo Antao
The last step to reaching Santo Antao is getting the ferry from Sao Vicente – you’re almost there!
For reference and to avoid confusion, the ferry port on Sao Vicente is in the town of Mindelo and the ferry port in Santo Antao is in the town of Porto Novo.
The main ferry operator in Cape Verde is CV Interilhas.
There are currently 2x ferries per day running between Sao Vicente and Santo Antao. One at 7:00 (7am) in the morning and one at 14:00 (2pm) in the afternoon.
The ferry takes approximately 1 hour and it costs 800 CVE per person.
You can book your tickets in advance on the ferry’s website. Alternatively, you can buy it directly from the port up to 2 hours before departure. This, of course, comes with the risk of potentially your ferry being all booked out, especially if you’re travelling during a busy holiday period (almost all ferries were sold out around Christmas).
Make sure to check the schedule for your specific dates on the CV Interilhas’ website in case of any changes to the schedule. They release the most up-to-date schedules up to a month in advance but the route between Sao Vicente and Santo Antao generally doesn’t experience any changes.
Alternative ferry company
There’s also another company that runs a ferry line between Sao Vicente and Santo Antao – Nos Ferries.
At the time of writing, there are two ferries per day from Monday to Saturday and one ferry on Sunday.
Monday – Saturday – 08:00 (8am) and 15:00 (3pm)
Sunday – 08:00 (8am)
The only downside is that there’s no comprehensive online booking system although there’s a section where you can request a reservation.
We ended up using Nos Ferries for our journey from Santo Antao back to Sao Vicente as the CV Interilhas ferry was booked out.
Nos Ferries’ ferry definitely felt a bit more upscale with nicer seats and even a bar on the outside deck! There was a bit of a party going on and we definitely loved the vibe.
So if you’re booking your ferry from the port in Mindelo (Sao Vicente) rather than in advance, consider booking with Nos Ferries (often referred to as the red ferry company).
Getting from Porto Novo to Paul, Ribeira Grande or Ponta do Sol (the scenic part of Santo Antao)
When visiting Santo Antao you’re most likely going to be staying either in Paul, Ribeira Grande or Ponta do Sol.
My recommendation is to stay in Paul – in my opinion it’s the most beautiful town with stunning views of both the mountains and the ocean. It’s very peaceful and a good starting point for your hikes in Santo Antao.
Therefore, when you arrive at the ferry port in Porto Novo you’ll have two options to get to your hotel in Paul, Ribeira Grande or Ponta do Sol.
Whichever way you take, you’re in for one of the most beautiful volcanic landscapes and coastal rides you’ve had!
- Aluguer (collective taxi) – this is the easiest and cheapest way to get from one point to the other in Santo Antao. Once you’re at the ferry port you’re most likely going to be approached by drivers asking you where you’re going. Confirm that it’s an aluguer, also referred to as ‘collectivo’ and also ask about the price.
This is the best option if you’re going to Paul.
If you’re continuing your journey to Ribeira Grande or Ponta do Sol from Paul, you can tell your driver and he will direct you to which aluguer is going that way when you arrive in Paul.
The aluguers usually run between:
Porto Novo – Paul – 400 CVE
Paul – Ribeira Grande – 100 CVE
Ribeira Grande – Ponta do Sol – 70 CVE
- Taxi – Getting a taxi is a good option if you’d prefer to travel without any hassle and be driven directly to your hotel. You can either grab a taxi from outside the port or have your hotel arrange a taxi for you in advance.
The prices below are for reference and may vary depending on the taxi. You can calculate your approximate taxi price based on the below (confirm with your hotel for best quote).
Porto Novo – Paul – 3000 CVE
Paul – Ribeira Grande – 1000 CVE
Ribeira Grande – Ponta do Sol – 700 CVE
If you’ve come to Santo Antao you’re most likely here to enjoy some amazing hikes and admire the breath-taking views this island has to offer.
Check my guide for the best hikes to do in Santo Antao to make the most out of your holiday.
If you have any questions about how to travel to Santo Antao or how to get around the island, don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments below! Enjoy your trip!