Maio Island Information (Ilha do Maio, Cabo Verde)
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Maio Cape Verde Location
Maio belongs to the Leeward Islands group (Ilhas do Sotavento) and is located south of the isand of Boavista and about 25 km east of Santiago. It has a surface area of 268 km2, the longest point, in a north-south direction being 24 km and the widest point, in an east-west direction is 16 km. The island is on the whole fairly flat, the highest point, in the middle, is Monte Penoso, with an altitude of 436m. The valleys are arid and dry and not very deep. Although the island is volcanic in origin, there are few signs to show it.
The climate is very dry and the land is essentially calcium based rock. There is little irrigated land. Eventhough the climate is not particularly favourable, the island does in fact have the biggest forest park in Cape Verde. The Northern region has been well eroded by the rough seas and the strong Northeast winds. Along the coast there are numerous and very beautiful beaches of fine golden sand.
The island was discovered on the 1st of May 1460 by the Portuguese navigators Diego Gomes and Antonio de Noli, and it was from the name of this month that the island "Maio" got its name.
The economic activity of the island at the time was limited basically to the breeding of goats. Later, at the beginning of the XVII century,the production of salt brought more people to the island.
As many English ships stopped here to get supplies, the port became known as Porto Inglês, which means English Port.
In the XIX century, the export of salt to Brazil greatly boosted the economy. During the 20th century, emmigration began and steadily increased. Life in Cabo Verde was difficult, mainly due to the terrible droughts that hit the country year after year.
Read about Sir Francis Drake, Captain Kidd, Blackbeard and other famous Cape Verde Pirates that visited Ilha do Maio and the lost treasures supposedly buried on Maio - read more...
Religious and other Festivals
The two most important celebratians are:
3rd of May
The May Festival, Festival of the "Santa Cruz" (Holy Cross)
24th, 25th and 26th of June
The Traditional celebrations of S.Joào
Weddings are also celebrated in a very traditianal way, with everyone getting together the night before to give presents and help in the preparations for the big day.
A number of cooperatives were created on the island to develope the hand-made ceramics industry. Pots and other cooking utensils are the main articles produced.
Food and Drink
The meat and fish on MAIO are extremely fresh. The specialities of the island are the following:APPETISERS
- Melon with local cheese (of the island)
- Local cheese with dates
- Tchassina: salted goat meat which is eaten with "cachupa"
- Stewed beans: with "feijão longo" (long beans)
- Goat stew with xeren (served at all popular feasts)
- Water melon and Melon salad
- Melon fruit preserves
- Local cheeses
Maio has tremendous potential in terms of tourism and its ecology is of great interest.
Pollution is something that, fortunately, has not yet reached this island. The maritime fauna, varied and abundant will delight any fisherman. The vast deserted beaches are the habitat of a number of species of sea birds. The turtles also use them to lay their eggs. For those who love to lie in the sun and swim all year round, nowhere could be better than these fine golden sandy beaches.
For those who prefer to find the attractions of the island by themselves, just by walking, they can discover areas of incredibly exotic vegetation - coconut trees, date palms, wild fig trees, and beautiful acacias.
The cheerful haspitality and the honesty of the local people is something that helps to make the visitor's holiday even more enjoyable.
Places to Visit
The second largest airport is on the island of MAIO, about 2 km from the town with the same name. The town itself is located right next to the sea. Near the small port is a beautiful fine sandy beach, where the local fishing boats are moored. Nearby is a fortress that was built in the XVIII century, to defend the town from the pirates. A liftle further on, and higher up, is a magnificent church, surrounded by beautiful flawer gardens. In the same region is a cooperative building very sui generis in its architecture as it is built in the form of an African hut.
A VISIT TO THE SALT PITS AND THE MORRO-MORINHO:
Although these extraordinary salt pits, 5000 m long and 1500 m wide, are no longer in use, they are well worth a visit. The vegetation in the area is very unique. Two typical species, called locally the "Marra" and the "Salsola Soda" are the main ones to be found here.
MORRO is a small village practically built along the road side. The local handicrafts of pots and other cooking utensils are very interesting. It has a very attractive beach and its clear waters are excellent for fishing.
In the same vicinity, between Costa and Monte Batalha is a regian where there is absolutely no vegetation. The mirages that appear here make you feel as in you are in the open desert.
A little further on is CALHETA, a small fishing port. It was in this region that the infra-structures for reforestation were introduced for cattle breeding purposes.
CALHETA de BAIXO has two fine white sandy beaches, sheltered by the rock formations at both ends.
Next on the route is MORRINHO, where to the north is another salt pit separated from the sea by about 1200m.
BAIA de SANTANA is a deserted beach in the shape of semi-circle. It is the beach that the fishermen from MORRINHO use and the turtles too are also fond of this beach.
Nearby are two more beautiful beaches, BAIA de PORTO CAIS and PRAIA REAL, where the turtles can be seen and where there is an abundance of shellfish.
A VISIT TO FIGUEIRA DA HORTA AND RIBEIRA DO JOÃO:
This trip takes the visitor into the oasis. FIGUEIRA DA HORTA is about 6 km from the town of MAIO. The scenery is truly desert like and unusually attractive. The bird-life found here, well adapted to desert conditions, feeds on insects and can go without water for long periods of time.
There is also another co-operative here in the shape of an African hut. On the road, out in the direction of Figueira Seca, there is an animal drinking trough.
RIBEIRA DE JOÃO is the final stopping point and is a truly magnificent oasis.
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|1st January||New Year; International Peace Day|
|13th January||Democracy and Liberty Day|
|20th January||National Heroes Day|
|1st May||Labour Day|
|5th July||Independence Day|
|15th August||Nossa Senhora da Graça (Our Lady of Grace)|
|12th September||National Day|
|1st November||All Saints Day|
|25th December||Christmas Day|
The following chart gives the approximate travel Timetable (in hours and minutes) from Cidade de Praia to other major cities/towns in Cape Verde:
|From Praia to -||Air||Sea|
Landscape of Maio
The following chart gives the Areas of Natural Beauty and land area details of Maio Island:
|Terras Salgadas||Nature Reserve|
|Casas Velhas||Nature Reserve|
|Barreiro and Figueira||Nature Reserve|
|Lagoa Cimidor||Nature Reserve|
|Praia do Morro||Nature Reserve|
|Salinas of Porto Inglês||Protected Landscape|
|Monte Penoso & Monte Branco||Protected Landscape|
|Monte Santo António||Protected Landscape|
|Surface area||269 km2|
|Maximum Length||24.1 km|
|Maximum Width||16.3 km|
|Heighest Point||Mt. Penoso (436m)|
Towns and Villages of Maio
The following table gives the towns and villages of Maio Island:
|Calheta||Figueira da Horta|
|Pedro Vaz (east coast)||Pedro Vaz, near Galeão|
|Pilão Cão||Porto Cais|
|Praia Gonçalo||Ribeira Dom João|
|Santo Antônio||Vila do Maio (Porto Inglês or Porto Inglêz)|
Ilha do Maio Tourism
The Island of Maio offers visitors tranquillity and total relaxation in a setting surrounded by sun and sea, with beautiful beaches, exotic places and mild temperatures. Maio is an island of 365 days of sun and sea.
The Island of Maio and charms the visitor holds for its lunar landscape made up of plains, sand dunes, the constant presence of the blue sea. And also for the atmosphere of tranquillity and remoteness that lives and feels the strangeness of the island almost a separate world, where the existence keeps the pace ...
With Maio’s variety of fish and shellfish this allows visitors to enjoy fresh, great quality seafood such as lobsters and octopus.
The Island of Maio has made a serious commitment to tourism and has already built several tourist facilities and other demarcated areas for launching new projects, mostly from foreign investors.
Equipped with the required infrastructure such as port, airport, and roads, all the villages were electrified and the ring road recently renovated. Maio also has telecommunication services, good hotels, running water, electricity in all villages, and pathways to the town’s beach.
Today the island has modern communications networks and Cape Verde Telecom Company Limited is responsible for the telecommunications network which consists of the network telephone, telegraph and internet.
In Morro, a small hill town surrounded by palm trees is a small craft shop where ceramics are produced which have interesting pieces for decoration in the home.
The main town of Vila do Maio has some of the best options for hotels and Guesthouses, whereas in the Morro there are two holiday villages.
Hiking along the coast between the long stretches of beaches and the rough terrain is advised to really appreciate the details of nature, whilst discovering the traditions of its people, historic buildings, and beautiful scenic landscapes.
Tourists can enjoy some typical dishes of the island, such as the famous Cachupa tchassina in addition to the couscous, bran, camoca and Lobster, lapa, barnacles and squid.
The Island of Maio has many beaches of fine white sand, transparent and warm clear water. The highlights of Maio’s beaches are the of the beach of Ponta-Preta, Praia Real, Pau Seco, Porto Cais, Bitche Rotcha, praia de “Boca di Morro”, baía da Calheta amongst others.
To gain access to some of the beaches it’s advisable to use 4x4 jeeps. Praiona beaches (Praia Gonçalo), Prainha (Pedro Vaz) and Boca Ribeira (between Alcatraz and Pedro Vaz) are also worth a visit for their beauty, white sand and blue sea.
Leisure, Nature and Discovery
The Island of Maio has a huge potential for tourism and its ecology is very interesting. Pollution is something that fortunately has not yet reached the island. The varied and abundant marine life will delight any fisherman and naturalist. The beaches are vast and deserts are inhabited by a number of species which spawn at sea. The turtles also use the beaches to lay eggs.
So those who like to sun and swim all year round, no place can be better than these fine white sandy beaches. So those who prefer to find the attractions of the island by themselves, you can discover areas of exotic vegetation incredible - coconuts, palm trees, beautiful acacias, and wild figs. The honesty and hospitality of local people is something that helps make the holiday more enjoyable for visitors.
Places of interest:
|The Mother Church, built in 1872|
|Lighthouse of St. Joseph|
|Natural Salinas (Salt-pans)|
|Rural Crafts (Morro)|
|Largest forested area of Cape Verde (Calheta) & charcoal ovens|
The newly extended airport of Maio is longer and can therefore accept larger incoming aircraft. The airport is about 2 km from the town of Vila do Maio. The town is directly opposite the sea which also contains the harbour and a beautiful white sand beach where local fishermen leave their boats. Nearby is the fort (orte de São José) built in the eighteenth century to defend the town from pirate attacks. A little further up is the magnificent church, surrounded by gardens of beautiful flowers. In the same area there is a cooperative building with a very unique architecture created in the form of an “fungos africanos”.
TOWN OF VILA DO MAIO
Vila do Maio is the dministrative centre and capital of the Island of Maio, which is characterised by its tranquillity, its colourful houses, and a Baroque style church from the late nineteenth century (1872). Vila do Maio was also known as “Porto Inglês” (English Harbour) as once there was a thriving business in the exploitation of salt by the British who used the port to export the product to Europe and America.
The views of the extraordinary salt pans (Salinas), which can measure 5000 metres long and 1500 metres wide, are an outstanding sight for the visitors to Maio. The vegetation in the area is unique and breathtaking and two typical species, known locally as "Maraca" and "Salsola soda" are to be found here.
Morro is a small town built along the road. Local artisans manufacture pots and other kitchen utensils which are very interesting for visitors. There is a very attractive beach and its clear waters are excellent for fishing. Nearby, between Monte Batalha and the coast is a region where there is no vegetation. The miracle is that it seems that it makes locals feel like they live in the desert.
Calheta is located near Morro and is the second largest town of the island and is a small fishing village. It was the region where the reforestation was first introduced to Maio. Morro is about 11 km from Vila do Maio, and has about 1107 inhabitants.
The main occupation of residents is fishing, FAIMO work in the Ministry of Agriculture, whose principal activities are the preparation of land for reforestation, forest management and other services.
The water supply in the town of Calheta to households is a reasonable with piped water and two water fountains. This water is not better and not enough to supply the population. Calheta de baixo has two beautiful beaches, protected by rocks.
The forest near to Calheta is considered one of the largest in Cape Verde where there are still many species of trees such as eucalyptus, acacia, etc.. In addition, new trees are planted annually with the aim of not only extending the perimeter but also to conserve the species.
Near to Morrinho extended salt pans can be found about 1200 metres from the sea. The baia de Santana is a deserted beach in the shape of a semi-circle. It is the beach where the fishermen go fishing from Morrinho and turtles also go to spawn. Nearby there are two beautiful beaches: the baia de Porto Cais and Praia Real, where turtles can be seen and where there are shells and crustaceans abound.
FIGUEIRA DA HORTA e RIBEIRA D. JÕAO
Figueira da Horta looks like an oasis, about 6 km from Vila do Maio, the scenery is truly seems desert-like, with unusual sights. Here nature is alive, and well adapted to desert conditions. There is abundant water and rich green vegetation. The visitor will also find another “fungo africano” construction which again represents the local cooperatives. Ribeira D. João is a magnificent oasis and well worthy of a visit.
Bars & Restaurants
The restaurants on the island of Maio are few and closed for certain parts of the day. Most restaurants are located in the town of Vila do Maio, but more are opening in other villages.
CASA DA PASTO BIA
Vila do Maio - Ilha do Maio
Tel. 255 1249
CASA DA PASTO MENA
Vila do Maio - Ilha do Maio
Tel. 255 1439
Flôr de Brava
Vila Maio - Ilha do Maio
Marçal Monteiro quartos
Vila Maio - Ilha do Maio
Tel. 255 1150
LA MAIENSE - da Tote
Vila Maio - Ilha do Maio
Tel. 255 1188
CA' NELINHO Bar Restaurante
Calheta Baixo - Ilha do Maio
Tel. 256 1198
Vila Maio - Ilha do Maio
Tel. 91 7438
|Documents||Passport (minimum 6 months) and Visa.|
|Flight Time Around||03h30m, Lisbon - Sal|
|Time Difference GMT||1H (Autumn - Winter)|
|GMT||2H (Spring - Summer).|
|Language||Portuguese and Creole.|
|Commerce||08h00 12h00 and 15.00-19.00 (2nd Saturday).|
|Credit Cards||Use limited to a few hotels and restaurants.|
|Banks||08h00-1400 (2nd to 6th Fair).|
|Currency||Cape Verdean escudo.|
|Currency exchange||Available at the airport and local banks. Money Can Not Be converted.|
|There are notes CVEsc 5000, 2000, 1000, 500, 200. There are coins CVEsc 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, 1.|
Rent a Car
Maio Car, Rent-a-Car
Grand Avenue - Vila do Maio - Ilha do Maio
Tel. 255 1700
- Lada Niva
- Daiathsu Terios
- Nissan Terrano
El Car, Rent-a-Car
Vila do Maio - Ilha do Maio
Tel. 255 1900
Climate - Tropical dry with two seasons
|Dry season||November to July, tempered by trade winds.|
|Rainy season (showers)||August to October.|
The Island of Maio has sufficient forms of transport to meet visitors needs.
In addition to the rental companies that offer a wide range of vehicles to choose from, there are many Toyota pickup type vehicles that can be hired especially for trips around the island of Maio.