Mindelo, St Vincent, Cape Verde cruises

As you sail into St Vincent, a miniature island packed with culture and celebration is revealed. St Vincent is the Cultural Capital of Cape Verde and has been home for many famous musicians and poets.

Mindelo is the bustling capital city, while the wider island is blessed with quiet beaches and laid-back bars. The celebratory atmosphere rises as the week passes and reaches crescendo at the weekend.

St Vincent was discovered in 1462. The stark island has very little rainfall so it remained uninhabited until the 19th century. Once Mindelo’s coaling station was constructed in 1938 the population of the island grew quickly. Over 93% of the population live in Mindelo but there is still a lot to see outside of the capital.

The Portuguese founded Mindelo and much of their vibrant culture remains. The city is known for hosting the best festivals and carnivals in Cape Verde. St Vincent Carnival takes place in February and is an exotic and colourful celebration with Brazilian and Portuguese influences.

Mindelo’s natural harbour, Porto Grande Bay, offers idyllic views out to sea where yachts can be seen bobbing on the horizon. This is where the majority of the island’s restaurants can be found, along with a cool selection of stylish bars.

Take a walk to The People’s Palace in Mindelo for a beautiful example of colonial architecture. Candy coloured buildings are dotted around the city, giving it a cheerful and quaint vibe.

Foodies should follow their taste buds and take a trip to Mercado Municipal, the capital’s food market that originated in 1784. You will find local produce and souvenirs as you soak up the atmospheric flavours of the island. Make sure you try Cape Verde’s national dish, cashupa. It is a slow cooked stew made with beans and meat or fish. For dessert, try another local specialty bol de cus cus. This corn and butter cake is best served with butter and cheese.

Venture out of Mindelo and you will find a beautiful yet stark island waiting to be discovered. Mount Verde is St Vincent’s highest peak standing at 750 metres high. A hike to the top will reward you with views over the entire island as well as the nearby islands of Santo Antão and Santa Luzia.

Visit the beautiful beaches and pretty village of Baia das Gatas in the northeast of St Vincent. A lagoon lines the coast and provides warm, sheltered water that is perfect for swimming and relaxing. Beachfront restaurants are a perfect escape from the heat and give you the chance to try some delicious, local cuisine. Baia das Gatas also hosts Festival da Baia das Gatas, an annual festival each August. The beach is packed with festival-goers enjoying both local and international musicians.

The village of Calhau is home to some of the best beaches on St Vincent. From here you can enjoy the dramatic beaches surrounded by volcanic mountains, or take a boat trip to the nearby uninhabited island of Santa Luzia.

Sao Pedro is the place to visit if you would like to try your hand at water sports. The windy coastal village on the south west coast is increasing in popularity with windsurfers and those looking for long walks along the sandy beach.