São Nicolau Island

What To Do?

  • Island Tour
  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Sailing
  • Bathing

What To See?

  • Batxu Rotxa
  • Monte Gordo
  • Ribeira Brava
  • Ribeira da Prata
  • Preguiça
  • Carbeirinho
  • Ponta do Barril
  • Rotxa Skribida

São Nicolau Trips

Get Inspired


São Nicolau is one of the Barlavento islands of Cape Verde. It is located between the islands of Santa Luzia and Sal. Its population is 12,769 inhabitants, with an area of 388 km².
Its economy consists mainly of agriculture as well as fishing and tourism near its beaches. Much of the population is rural. Preguiça Airport is located to the south between Vila da Ribeira Brava and Campo.

The mountainous island is mostly agricultural but is subject to droughts. The flat areas and hills dominate most of the coastline and the central part. A peninsula covers the eastern part of the island. The highest point on the island is Monte Gordo, reaching a maximum height of 1,312 m. Other mountains include Monte Bissau in the central part and Pico do Alberto to the east.

Nowadays the island is divided into two parishes, but until 2005, the island was administrated as one municipality: São Nicolau.


First inhabited in the sixteenth century, São Nicolau is known for its mountains and for its main town, Ribeira Brava, long the seat of the Cape Verde diocese. Its other town holds the ferry and the fishing port of Tarrafal. A famine affected the entire island in the 1940s which led to emigration, mainly to São Tomé and Príncipe.

The municipality of Tarrafal was created in 2005, when the older Municipality of São Nicolau was split in two, the western part becoming the Municipality of Tarrafal de São Nicolau and the eastern part becoming the Municipality of Ribeira Brava.

A few minutes away from the town center, lies the beach of Batxu Rotxa. Famous for its immense dune, this is the perfect location for a relaxing day at the sea side.

On the way to Ribeira da Prata, there is a rock, which the locals call “Rotxa Skribida”, that still amazes locals and visitors until this day. The origin of the letters inscribed in the rock are still unknown, due to the heavy erosion they have already suffered, but many tales of pirates or ancient african tribes are told as an explanation to the mistery.

“Geography” and “History” source: São Nicolau, Cape Verde. (2016, December 7). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21:37, February 18, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=S%C3%A3o_Nicolau,_Cape_Verde&oldid=753527518