Maio Island, Cape Verde, remote and quiet
Maio Beachfront Hotels and Sandy Beaches
First settled in May in the 1460, from whence it derives its name which is Portuguese for the month of May. For centuries it lived a precarious existence from ranching goats and harvesting salt. There are still salt flats on the western coasts.
It is still remote and as yet undeveloped, but has fine sandy beaches like Sal. There is a fine beach at Vila do Maio the main seaport and airport. This was formerly known as Porto Ingles because an English company exploited the salt pans. Perhaps the most friendly island, as it is so little visited, its arid plains and fabulous beached do permit the herding of goats and cows.
Vila do MaioHardly more than a large village it is two miles from the air strip and right on a fine beach. The small jetty receives cargo ships and fishing boats are moored and nearby is the fortress built in the 18th century to defend the town from pirates. Dominating the town is a large, old church surrounded by beautiful flowers. The local Coop is modelled on an African village hut with conical roof.
MorroA small village on the road North, it is also the site of a failed hotel and property complex. The local handicrafts and another fine beach with nearby some abandoned salt pits.
Santana BayThis is a deserted semi-circular sandy beach, and an important nesting beach for turtles.
CalhetaA few miles north is a charming fishing village at Calheta where you can see the tuna catch early in the morning and wander amongst the cows, bulls and donkeys which graze along the beach. . Another fine beach is just south of Ponta Preta at Porto do Maio and there are more to the North where the wind is stronger. All are empty.
Itt also has the largest area of forest in the Cape Verdes. Few people make the long trip by light plane and/or ferry and you may find that you are the only people in the small hotel Marilu , where the owner is also the chef, waiter, barman and porter. It is the place to get away from it all and from everyone. The pretty island that is as yet untouched by tourism.
But perhaps it is the island in the Cape Verdes that will show the best investment returns on property, when people are more easily able to get there.
Maio airport is closed but there is a catamaran service from PraiaB from Manchester liked the calm.
"If you need to chill out in absolute calm and peace, Maio may well be the place for you. Porto Ingles is charming, colourfully painted little town scrambling up the hillside above the sea towards the cathedral, with a couple of shaded squares hung with bougainvillea and hibiscus. The town beach is a crescent-shaped slick of pale gold sand sliding of into the distance into a sea of every sparkling shade of green and blue. Maio only has nine miles of paved roads so there is very limited vehicle ownership: this means no car hire, but also means that if you do manage to find yourself some way of getting about then exploring the island is a dream. Public transport is created for by 4x4 pick-ups that simply circle the island one way or another with people jumping on and off as they wish. This is a really good fun way of seeing the island - most of the driving is, of necessity, off road! - and of interacting with the local population, and although the time tables may be erratic, there is nowhere on Maio that requires punctuality! We actually borrowed a pick-up for a couple of days and ambled at our own pace through costal scrub, along miles of pale straw-gold beaches, up vertiginous mountain sides, along dried up river beds and through picturesque pastel painted villages. There is no litter on Maio! Neither are there sign posts, obvious tracks or any sign of humanity between the villages, so you need to be self-sufficient and sensible, well prepared with food, drink and your first aid kit and not given to panicking. Having said that you need to have an adventurous spirit but haven't had much opportunity to put it into practise, then Maio offers a gentle initiation: you can only be lost for so long on a small island. "
Restaurants and BarsThere are only a couple in Vila do Maio and one small one in Calheta. B from Manchester concentrated on one.
"Porto Ingles has a couple of restaurants – both Italian – the Tutti Frutti and the Trattoria. We ate at the Tutti Frutti and from then on had no reason to need to check out the Trattoria. How amazing that in such a backwater you are able to find superb food. Italian Alberto and his Venezuelan wife Brenda are both sailors home from sea. They both love their quiet life by the ocean, and love cooking and entertaining. Over our first beer in Maio – and then a leisurely pasta lunch – we discussed with Alberto what he had available for us to eat that evening. We came back later and the candles had been lit, the wine was breathing and he produced simple dishes cooked to perfection: crisp but softly melting sauté potatoes, vegetables ‘al dente’ in a tissue thin batter and Brazilian steaks: nearly two inches thick of succulent tenderness. Brenda’s contribution was a seductively smooth orange crème brulee with glass-brittle caramel cap. All washed own with a wine from the Island of Fogo, the most southerly wine-producing region in the northern hemisphere. No wonder that we didn’t bother trying anywhere else! For people that can’t resist the buying urge, Brenda has a small boutique along side he restaurant were she sells artefacts gathered from their travels through the Pacific and Indian oceans, South American and African jewellery and great beach water from Brazil and Venezuela."
D from Berkshire tried the other
"Maio was absolutely beautiful and the beaches to die for. The town was very quiet but we found ourselves a nice little internet cafe with an Italian owner called Paolo. The hotel was basic but the Staff was very pleasant and friendly: even managed to get a smile out of the girl at the bank. "