“Soncente” or island of São Vicente is the second most populous island of Cape Verde. Discovered on St. Vincent’s day, January 22, 1462, by the Portuguese navigator Diogo Gomes was the last of the archipelago’s islands to be populated, only in 1838. It is semi-flat because its highest point, Monte Verde has only 774 m. One of the island’s best-known elevations is the “Mount Face”, so named for reminiscent of a human face staring up at the sky. The view from the top is spectacular, and you can see the entire island from Mindelo Bay to Baía das Gatas (a beautiful natural bay with calm and crystal clear waters) and Praia Grande.
Mindelo is the capital city of the island and the second largest and most dynamic city of the archipelago. It was developed through the port activity, through its famous Port that is in a beautiful Bay of deep waters and today is considered the capital of the culture of Cape Verde. The Bay of Mindelo is wide and of unexplainable beauty. In front you can see the Islet of the Birds, a small islet that awakens the curiosity of the tourists and still the great mountains of the island of Santo Antão.
Mindelo is a city that remembers a Portuguese city, in the architecture of its buildings and houses, in the gardens and coretos and even in the walks. The nights of Mindelo are filled with lively bars with live music that express the spirit of the people of this island. It was from one of these bars that our well-known Cesaria Évora stood out. The Praça Nova is the meeting point of the people and then they surrender to these numerous bars where all kind of music of Cape Verde can be heard.
This Island is famous for its Carnival, with its lively and colorful costumes. They are considered a small replica of the Brazilian Carnival. Cesária Évora, the barefoot Diva who was born there sang the Carnival of São Vicente very well. The lyrics say that “São Vicente is a brazilin, full of joy full of color ..”. For days there are several groups parading through the streets with disguises of reis queens, floats, dancers and thousands of extras. Mindelo also stands out in the areas of theater, literature, painting and handicrafts, plastic arts, literature, theater, dance and cinema. Everywhere it is common to find people who sell handicraft products ceramic pieces made of coconut shells and necklaces of shells and stones.
Every year on the first weekend of August, people from all the islands of Cape Verde and the world travel to the island to attend the Baia das Gatas Music Festival. A great music festival since 1984, which began as a meeting of friends redeemed on a beach to play. It has grown and today has become one of the most famous music festivals in Cape Verde, where several national and foreign artists, nautical sports and an unusual cultural program play.
The island is very dry, naked of vegetation of arid aspect being the water for consumption of the population obtained by desalinization of the sea water. Due to the lack of rain, fishing turns out to be the most important economic environment of the island. Catch of the lobster, canned industries, salted fish and dried fish are some of the products that pass daily through the “Port Grande” main port of Cape Verde. The fishing village of Calhau, where one can see an infinite blue sea among the volcanic cones presents in itself an increasing influx of tourists.