Situated on the sun-drenched island of Sao Vincente in the Cape Verde archipelago, Porto Grande overlooks the beautiful waters of the Mindelo Bay, and is an intimate port seemingly tailor-made for the discerning traveller. Although it is of an intimate size, it's a harbour has a truly international scope, with imports from as far-afield as North America, Latin America, Brazil and Europe gliding through its waters all year round.
Luckily, the port itself hasn't been swallowed up by this global grandeur, and its charms are as authentic as ever. With the whole landmass of Sao Vincente to be explored as leisurely as you please and a quaint atmosphere of tranquillity pervading the villages along the coast, you can be sure of an island getaway with a difference.
Sao Pedro is a small fishing town a few miles from Porto Grande. Its small streets and alleys belie a settlement with a big heart, considering how familial the natives can be. These are even quieter climes than the winding streets of Porto Grande, and as such, it's an ideal place to get away from the usual tourist fare. Take a boat out onto the local lake and join the skilled fishermen, take a stroll through the quiet serenity of the hills, or simply take time out in the cosy local tavernas, the choice is entirely yours.
If you were looking for something (literally) off the beaten track however, there's always the inspiring sight of Mt Fogo. This is Cape Verde's highest peak, still wreathed in the cinders of past eruptions, and towering majestically over the entire landscape of the islands. Its home is the ancient crater of Cha das Calderias, a centuries old site riddled with volcanic soil and rock. To reach the cliff faces surrounding the Mountain, you can take the cobbled road leading from the coast of Cape Verde upwards, heading through hamlets filled with lava block houses.
A former colonial mansion, the Municipal museum houses a wealth of cultural items reaching far back into the region's past, including old photographs, sewing machines and articles of clothing hand made by some of the first settlers upon the island. Not that the exhibit avoids the important modern events – a 28 minute film about the 1995 Volcano eruption offers up incredible footage of the entire incident, as well as a look into the changing face of Cape Verdes society.
Shopping in Porto Grande
The central shopping district in Mindelo is ideal if you are looking for high-end fashion made locally. Upon the winding boulevards, you can find jewellery and antique shops, as well as numerous street vendors dealing in a variety of curios.
Eating out in Porto Grande
There's no gourmet scene or chic pricey restaurants here, but then, that's all for the better. Make sure to indulge in the local seafood specialties in Sao Pedro and Mindelo, the fresher the better. It's not hard to find a lion's share of shrimp, shellfish, and prawns being served up in the cafes of the towns.