Lying on the northwest coast of Boa Vista, Sal Rei is home to over half of the Island’s 12,000 inhabitants. The fastest growing town in Cape Verde, it’s not the bustling capital city you might expect, with a relaxed and cosy atmosphere that is both appealing and addictive.
Sal Rei is steeped in the history of Boa Vista, with its status of capital of the Island since the mid-1800s. Its name translates as ‘Salt King’ or ‘Royal Salt’, dating back to when salt production was the main industry on Boa Vista. Salt plains are still present to the north of the town, with some of the urban developments even built into them.
With a port that has dramatically increased in size over the years, Boa Vista is easily accessible from the other Islands, welcoming scores of Cape Verde islanders and international tourists each year.
What attracts visitors to Sal Rei?
Boa Vista has many attractions as an Island, but Sal Rei has gems of its own, starting with the main square—Praça de Santa Isabel. There’s a vibrant display of colours from plant life to African traders selling batiks, wood carvings, and fruit and vegetables. Next to the square, the landmark church Igreja da Santa Isabel has a wonderful baroque façade.
Beaches are in abundance around Sal Rei, ranging from the idyllic small bay of Praia do Estoril to the 10km-long, sand dune lined Praia de Chaves. Sheltered by the Island of Ilheu de Sal Rei, these beaches provide the perfect spot to relax and unwind or practise a variety of watersports.
A must-do excursion from Sal Rei is Cabo Santa Maria — the wreckage of a ship that ran aground in 1968 on its way to Brazil and Argentina. Although it has suffered the effects of weather over recent decades, the shipwreck stands tall out of the water and remains a great source of inspiration for local artists.
The sandy Island of Boa Vista is home to the Deserto de Viana, where sand dunes created by the Atlantic winds rise up to 50m. Fantastic to explore on quad bikes or 4WD vehicles, this spectacular and exhilarating location is easily accessible from Sal Rei.
Festivals are another reason why so many visitors are attracted to Sal Rei—the main ones being the 4th of July, celebrating the patron saint of Boa Vista, and the annual music festival in August. Both are lively celebrations of the Cape Verde culture.
Strolling along Avenida dos Pescadores is also a popular way to pass time in Sal Rei—a tree-lined avenue with attractive, little house all in different colours. From here, you can take a tour of the old harbour quay and boatyard.
Heading a little further northeast brings you to the remaining salt plains, and then on to the ruins of the Nossa Senhora de Fátima Chapel, which stands above the rocky coast.
Sal Rei is a delight to visit at any time of the year and is within easy reach of our 5-star luxury Resort, the White Sands Hotel & Spa currently under development. Contact Luxury Beach Life if you’d like more information.