Santo Antao

The Green Mountain Island

What to do

  • Island Tour
  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Mountain biking

What to see

  • Paúl Valley
  • Cova Crater
  • Ponta de Sol
  • Tope da Coroa
  • Pico da Cruz
  • Ribeira da Torre Valley
  • Formosa Beach
  • Porto Novo
  • Tarrafal


Santo Antão, or Sontonton in Cape Verdean Creole, is the second largest island of Cape Verde and westernmost point of Africa. The nearest main island is São Vicente to the southeast, separated by a channel named Canal de São Vicente.
The island is entirely made up of volcanic material. The tallest mountain is Topo de Coroa, reaching a height of 1,979 m. The second tallest is Pico da Cruz at 1,585 m.
The island is divided into north and south by a mountain range long considered impenetrable but now crossed by a road. The island’s main town is Ponta do Sol on the north coast, home to the closed Agostinho Neto Airport, while its ferry port is Porto Novo on the south coast. A part of the island in the southeast has an arid climate, while the northwest receives relatively normal precipitation. Its valleys are suffering heavy erosion.

Bathing beaches and fishing areas are found in near Tarrafal de Monte Trigo. During the rainy season, some creek beds across the island are temporarily filled with water.

The island is considered one of the most mountainous of Cape Verde. Its mountains are composed of basalt and many of its volcanoes are young, especially its calderas. Since 1999, vulcanologists have observed continuous rising of the water temperature of the sea in the area of Ponta do Sol which may indicate the risk of a new eruption in the area.

Being basically made of several stratovolcanoes and so extremely mountainous, this island has quite diverse climate and various microclimates due to its deep ravines.
The average annual temperature on the coast is about 23 °C, decreasing to somewhere between 11 to 15 °C on the highest grounds. There can be remarkably cool weather in the interior with warmer wet season starting in July and ending in December–January with colder dry season starting in December–January and ending in June.
The major climate risk, similarly to other Cape Verdean islands, yet much less pronounced in the higher altitudes due to better ability in gaining moisture from clouds, is drought.


The island was discovered in 1462 by Diogo Afonso and inhabited in 1548, when it was given its current name. In the 17th century, people from the islands of Santiago and Fogo along with people from northern Portugal arrived in today’s Vila da Ribeira Grande in the northern part of the island.
Later, wine and coffee became the most important exports of the island. As of 1832, the estimated population of Santo Antão was 24,000 inhabitants. The highest population was reached in the 2000 census and it was 47,170.

Fishing and agriculture are nowadays the main industries on the island.
The island’s agriculture products include sugar cane, yams, cassava, bananas, mangoes and grain. The main product on the island is a kind of rum known as grogue.

The exportation of many of the island’s agriculture products to other islands has been prohibited for nearly two decades because of the millipede (Spinotarsus caboverdus) blight, but the government has since then lifted the quarantine.

Due to its mountainous nature, most of the island’s plantations are done in terraces, obviating the use of machinery and requiring immense manual labor. Recently, some experiences using Drip irrigation have been taking place in order to mitigate the drought conditions.

Tourism is becoming one of the most dominant industries on the island. There has been some investment in Rural tourism infrastructures. Hiking, Trekking and Cultural tourism account for most of the touristic offer of this island.
Other than Portuguese (official language), the majority of the population speaks Cape Verdean Creole.

Get inspired

”Geography” and “History” source: Santo Antão, Cape Verde. (2016, December 1). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21:36, February 18, 2017, from,_Cape_Verde&oldid=752527540

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