Experience Boa Vista, Cape Verde – Choose Happy

experience boa vista

The people of Cape Verde, we have nothing. However, we are happy. We choose to be happy

This was said to me by a most wonderful man that we met in the village of Povoacao Velha , in Boa Vista. We had arrived in the village on quads that we had hired, covered in dust from the one road that cut through the baron, luna landscape of Boa Vista in Cape Verde. The landscape that we had travelled through was arid, dry, and literally, like the surface of the moon. As we got off the quads, a few of the locals walked up to us, calling friendly greetings and telling us where we could get welcome cold drinks from. It was our first encounter of the real Boa Vista. The island of which we discovered really was an island of two sides. Im going to cover where we stayed etc in another post, but, rather than just an itinerary, I wanted to share with you some of our actual experience, the real feel of Boa Vista, Cape Verde.

Boa Vista, Cape Verde – Choose to be Happy

As we walked along into the small village square, glancing around we saw that there were a few of the woman of the village, sitting out the front of their homes, busily chopping vegetables or tending young children. Older children were running around the streets with sticks, laughing and playing, their mum’s watching on from the kerbs of the street. The men of the village were gathered around the benches in the centre of the village, some carrying water from the pumping station, some working with wood, carving out African masks and boats to sell in the tiny village shop. It was a colourful, vibrant village, just on an incredibly small scale.

Boa Vista Cape verd

We had spent seven days in our resort, relaxing and recharging our batteries, which was much needed from our last difficult twelve months. However, we were ready to explore our surroundings more by day five, so booked an intimate quad tour to take us around the island. Now, Im not sure about you, but I have never driven a quad before, and being the clumsy calamity that I am, knew this could result in me face down in the sand! The twists and turns of the unmade, rocky tracks that we had to navigate,  could prove challenging to me. I was a little worried, Nik and the boys a little amused…..they are evil. I actually didn’t need to worry, I drove that thing like a boss…(if a boss drives like a granny at about 5 miles per hour for the first 10 minutes) Yes, steering did prove to be a little bit of an issue for me initially, but lets ignore that shall we…

Boa Vista, Cape verde
Like a Boss……. And always the height of glamour (ahem)

Back to the village.

There is no mistaking the poverty that is in Cape Verde once you are away from the plush resorts that we as holiday makers  stay in. As you wander across the island, there are homes that are little more than shacks, makeshift shelters that people are living in. We were told that many of the workers from the hotels live in these “shanty towns” as they are called. No running water or electricity means that the homes are pretty dark, so lots of people are outside. Traveling through the harsh landscape of Boa Vista, passing these homes, I had never been more aware of my privilege.

Reaching the tiny village of Povoacao Velha, about 20 minutes ride, the homes are a little more solidly built, but there is still no running water and the electricity is only available for a few hours per day. The villagers were obviously proud of their homes though, we felt no feeling of discontent, and the outsides had been painted in various pastel colours. Some had beautiful African artwork and turtles painted on them. Boa Vista is incredibly proud of its turtle conservation efforts, and you will see their love of turtles reflected everywhere over the island. They really care about looking after them, and have a beach that is dedicated purely to the turtles.

Boa Vista, Cape Verde choose happy
Village shop at Povoacao Velha

One of the locals offered to show us around the tiny village. “No Stress, No stress” he kept saying to us. A term that was very much on most Cape Verdians lips. Of course, they are hoping that you will buy some little carvings or trinkets from the shop, but we felt no pressure. He was proud to take us along the cobbled paths to show us around the village, although also very matter of fact about the poverty there. The village shops, along with fishing and growing their own produce, was how the people supported themselves in the village. We were shown the tiny local school, and it was explained that schools are always painted yellow, as is tradition on Boa Vista. Then on to the pumping station that supplied the village with cleaner water, (although its still not drinkable), with the ladies of the village filling up their huge buckets to carry on their heads, back to their homes. Goats were strolling around the villages, seeking out shade from the sun alongside the cats and street dogs. Cats stretched out lazily, dogs alert and ready to play with whoever wanted to. There was harmony with the animals and villagers. Being a huge animal lover, I always look at how a nation treats its animals. Nations may be poor, but there is never a need for cruelty, and the people of Boa Vista showed compassion and kindness to its animals. Little lids of water were left out for the smaller animals to drink, dogs and cats seemed to be very welcome, and we learnt that there were organisations on the island working on a neutering programme for the street cats and dogs. We never saw any harshness or cruelty, which made me so happy.

Boa vista, Cape verde

Our self appointed guide happily taught us about how the village was the oldest settlement of Boa Vista, thought to date back to the 16th century, and it used to be the islands capital back in the early 1800’s. The elders of the village very much believe that this village is where the story of Boa Vista was born. I loved that. It had a sense of pride in the village. Despite it being simple, it was clean and tidy. The village does have some tourists pass through it, which is great for their community, as it is very close to the stunningly beautiful beach of Santa Monica. It is in fact the closest village to the beach. Voted in the top 10 of most beautiful beaches in the world for many years, we said our goodbyes to our lovely new friend, gave him some Euro’s to thank him, and set off back on the quads to head to the beach.

Santa Monica Beach

Up and over sand dunes, the thrill of the speed of which you go down them, the sliding of the quad as the sand moves under the wheels, mean that we arrived at santa Monica beach laughing, eyes shining, full of high spirits and more than ready to wash the sand dunes dust from us. I was giggly with the fact that I had overcome my fear of hurtling down the dunes. Those buggers were high! I had promised my boys that I wouldn’t chicken out, so I just went for it and it was exhilarating. So much fun. Reaching the top of one particular sand dune, my breath was taken away at the little slice of paradise that stretched before us. Sparkling turquoise waters, white, icing sugar fine sand, and not another person on the beach. It was stark contrast to the landscape through which we had travelled. It really was an island of two sides! The beach is 18km long, so it is never crowded! If you ever get to Boa Vista, you MUST visit this beach. Its unspoilt (for now) and a real treasure (all details here). Our guide told us that we could stop for an hour, so that was it. I was off.

Boa Vista, Cape Verde

Now, I am incredibly self conscious of being in front of anyone in a swimming costume. My weight gain over the years has made me so. Other than my family, it rarely happens unless I really have to on holiday etc. However, call it a rush of blood to the head, or maybe high spirits from the thrill of the dunes, but I flung off my dress, kicked off my Havanans, and with a shout of “race you” I ran full pelt for the sea. Running like the devil himself was chasing me. I have no doubt that my butt was wobbling, my thighs were thundering and my bingo wings were flying, but I did not care. Not one bit. No Fecks Given. I knew how lucky I was to be on that beautiful, untouched beach.  Nik and the boys followed suit, and with childlike abandon, we all dived into the ocean, relishing in its welcome coolness, letting the waves tumble us, popping back up from the waters surface laughing, spluttering and happy. So very, very happy. That moment then, that simple moment in time, was one of the happiest I have experienced. Me, my (soon to be completely) well husband, and my boys. Laughing until my happy, salty tears met the equally salty ocean. How lucky am I….

Boa Vista, Cape Verde

Relaxing back at the bar that night, I really felt that the feeling I had experienced today, that feeling of just relishing in and embracing where we were, really summed up how the Islands people struck me. They made the most of what they have. They realise that although money is scarce, living is tough, they know how lucky they are to live in a place with stunning beaches. Glorious oceans. They overcome their obstacles to have a bright and positive outlook.  Despite having very little, they have “no stress” I sat there and realised that we could all learn so, so many lessons from these people.  What our village guide said was playing on my mind. They choose to be happy.  They have no material possessions, the very basic in utilities and comfort, but they choose to be happy. It was very humbling. It was a stark reminder of how spoilt we are. The saying “I Pity The Man That Has Only Richness In Possessions” has never felt so apparent.

You can read about how another beautiful soul that had very little, gave younger me a life lesson in kindness in this post, Why I feel Travel can be the Key to Growth


So, there we have it. My first little insight for you into our Cape Verde trip. What do you think? I know it doesn’t cover the whats and wheres, but I was so overwhelmed with the feeling of Boa Vista, that is what has stayed with me, that I felt it needed more respect than just facts, itineraries and tips. I wanted you to get a feel for the people and the island. I will cover the other stuff in another post, I know its useful to know, but I wanted to share an experience, a memory, a story with you first. I hope thats ok…..




  1. Jean
    August 16, 2018 / 8:02 am

    Ohhhh Kerry, I loved reading this post, such a heartwarming capture of the island and people. Quite refreshing to read a true account of a visit to strange lands. I guess we all should learn a lesson from the Boa Vista people. The island looks beautiful and although poverty is there the people sound rich in their outlook. Wonderful post Kerry and lovely to hear you and your family enjoyed yourselves

    • kerrylifeandloves
      August 16, 2018 / 8:33 am

      Thank you so much! Im thrilled that you got a sense of the people, their impact on me was strong. Im so glad you enjoyed it, thank you for reading xxx

  2. August 16, 2018 / 1:49 pm

    Kerry I think this was a great piece! I love to know more about the locals, rather than places!

    • kerrylifeandloves
      August 16, 2018 / 2:30 pm

      Ritu I am so glad you feel that way. I was a little worried about it being a personal post. Thank you so much for reading xxx

      • August 16, 2018 / 2:36 pm

        Personally, I love personal… it’s how I write and how I love to read too! <3

        • kerrylifeandloves
          August 16, 2018 / 5:35 pm

          Me too, thank you xxx

          • August 16, 2018 / 6:00 pm


  3. August 16, 2018 / 1:59 pm

    Awesome post. I’m so glad you had such a great vacation and got over your fear of quads! And I’m so glad you got to experience a moment of true happiness when you dove into the ocean with your family. This is a lovely post, full of warmth for your family and nature. I can feel it between the words. 🙂

    • kerrylifeandloves
      August 16, 2018 / 2:32 pm

      Ohhh Lisa, you have made my day! Thank you so much, that was exactly what I hoped would happen. It would conjure up a feeling rather than just give knowledge. I really appreciate you reading xx

  4. August 16, 2018 / 3:12 pm

    Wonderfully written; I very much prefer this sort of travel writing than a simple list of facts and places to see. I love that sort of travelling where you can really get in close to the locals and make a two-way connection that touches on both sets of strangers coming together (so long as they’re happy for you to be there, of course, and it seems they were); it’s quite a rarity for us to experience, though, and I wish we got more chance to do this sort of thing as well.

    • kerrylifeandloves
      August 16, 2018 / 5:39 pm

      Thank you so much Mark, I really enjoyed writing this way, so I think its the way forward for me. It feels more like story telling, which I love! You are so right about the connection of people, for me, that stays with me long after the tan fades and the washing is done. One of the hotel workers that my sons had befriended, made my son a beaded “no stress” bracelet as a leaving gift. It was so touching. Those that have the least give the most dont they. Thank you so very much for reading, I really appreciate it x

  5. josypheen
    August 16, 2018 / 4:09 pm

    What a lovely write-up of a perfect sounding adventure!!

    I loved this bit: “I drove that thing like a boss…(if a boss drives like a granny at about 5 miles per hour for the first 10 minutes)” Heh!! 😉

    • kerrylifeandloves
      August 16, 2018 / 5:40 pm

      Hahaha! It was the truest description. I thought I was amazing, the reality was I was Driving Miss Daisy until I got over my fear haha. Thank you so much for reading xxx

  6. August 16, 2018 / 7:25 pm

    Kerry! What a fantastic post. Brilliant. One of the best travel blogs I’ve read. You brought bloody tears to my eyes! Looking forward to reading more like this. Also sounds like an amazing holiday and the memory of you all in the sea something you’ll cherish forever. That kitten, omg too cute and it’s so lovely to hear they look after the animals 🙂 I love the no stress attitude and I think we all could learn a lot from the people there. I want to go!
    Heather xx

    • kerrylifeandloves
      August 16, 2018 / 8:13 pm

      Ohhhh Heather, thank you so much. What a lovely compliment, Im blushing! Im so glad you got the feel of the island, the people, it was to wonderful to not try to get that across. We really could learn so much from them. They humbled me. Thank you so much for reading xxx

  7. August 16, 2018 / 8:07 pm

    Oh Kerry I really enjoyed this! Not your typical holiday post and so much more food for thought on Cape Verde. Loved this, looks like a great trip!! Well proud of you on your quad bike! Fair play xxx

    • kerrylifeandloves
      August 16, 2018 / 8:18 pm

      I am so happy you liked it! I was so worried about doing it like this, but its 100% my preferred way of writing a travel post. It makes me so happy its been well received! That quad! Honestly, it was so much fun (once I stopped crashing into things). The sand dunes were just fantastic. Id defo do it again! Thank you for reading, thank you for your lovely feedback xxxx

      • August 19, 2018 / 10:49 pm

        I was out in Bluewater again today (no judgements please 🤣) and was looking out for you around every corner!! That place will forever remind me of you now!
        You can totally tell you prefer it and from others and their feedback it’s so clear to see so I’d take that as a job well bloody done!!
        Cape Verde is on my bucket list for sure now xx

        • kerrylifeandloves
          August 19, 2018 / 11:22 pm

          Ahhhh we will so have to arrange a date. Id love to have a coffee and a chin wag. Cape Verde is lovely. You can totally chill out and relax, or go out and about a bit. Thank you so much for the compliment, I feel like Iv found my way a bit, I love the story telling side of writing xx Thanks for reading lovely x

          • August 29, 2018 / 9:58 pm

            I’m going to hold you to that! Before Chrismtas, lets make a date 🙂

            Keep up the story telling, I’m really enjoying it! xx

  8. betterthangoodenough123
    August 17, 2018 / 10:51 am

    Terrific post Kerry. Travel posts are often just about the sites, accommodations, etc., and so I don’t often read them. But your title drew me in, and I’m so glad it did! Wonderful to read about the people, and about the impact they had on you and your family. I look forward to reading more of your posts soon!
    Joan Senio

    • kerrylifeandloves
      August 17, 2018 / 11:13 am

      Ohh Joan thank you so much, that means so much. I love that I was able to make you feel a little understanding of the people. I much prefer writing this way, so I am so pleased its been well received. Thank you for reading, and your lovely comment xxx

  9. August 17, 2018 / 11:22 am

    Awesome post kerry. I felt like i am there for a moment beautifully narrated. Loved it 😊

    • kerrylifeandloves
      August 17, 2018 / 11:28 am

      Ohhhh thank you so much! I really appreciated that lovely comment xx Thanks for reading x

    • kerrylifeandloves
      August 17, 2018 / 11:28 am

      Oh thank you! Its a fairly photographic island so I cant take all the credit xx Thank you for reading x

  10. August 18, 2018 / 7:34 am

    ♥️ this post! Sounds like an incredible trip. I enjoyed reading about the people on the island. Such a good reminder to us all that consumerism is not happiness. xx 💋

    • kerrylifeandloves
      August 18, 2018 / 8:28 am

      Thank you so much, such a lasting impression was made on me by the people. I really appreciate you reading xx

  11. August 19, 2018 / 10:20 am

    Girl you need to write a book! I loved this post – and felt I was there with you as you described how you all dived into the sea without a care in the world – amazing. What fantastic memories!

    • kerrylifeandloves
      August 19, 2018 / 10:30 am

      Ohhhh you! That is a massive compliment, you write for a living! Thank you so much. It was a fabulous day, but I think sometimes its not the resort, or the food that stays with you, its something far more enriching isnt it. Thank you for reading lovely xxx

  12. Leah | The Modern Traveler
    August 19, 2018 / 8:57 pm

    You did a great job of conveying the feel of Boa Vista. I love that the animals are cared for, and the beach is stunning! Seems like a place with great energy.

    • kerrylifeandloves
      August 19, 2018 / 10:14 pm

      Thank you so much Leah, it was the feel of the people and the place that has stayed with me. Although, that beach really was a beauty! Thank you so much for reading x

  13. August 20, 2018 / 9:19 pm

    What a wonderful post and your photography is stunning! Your writing makes me feel like I am there with you. I’ve shared this on my reg feature Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You! Claire x

    • kerrylifeandloves
      August 21, 2018 / 10:26 am

      Ohhh wow, thank you so much for this wonderful comment. You have made my day! I really hoped the post would give someone a real feel of the place. It was so much more than an itinerary. Thank you so very much for reading, and sharing. I really appreciate it xx

  14. Susanne
    August 22, 2018 / 11:40 am

    I love how the people there look on life! No stress, no stress, we choose to be happy although we have nothing. My sister and myself talk a lot about this – how most people of the western world are like spoilt brats who can’t see and be thankful for what they have, and how they can’t enjoy life because they expect every aspect of it to be perfect.
    In this period when we’re downsizing our home in a big way I’m realising how much STUFF, things, possessions, stress me and how I want to simplify life to feel better. A friend of ours said it so well.. “in the end it’s like the stuff owns YOU”.

    It’s enough going to a place as close as to the countryside of Ireland and see how people are able to enjoy life (I don’t know if they agree here but this is my number one impression when I get there and compare their lifestyle with the one in Sweden). I wouldn’t say that they have nothing but it’s a country that has suffered lots of hard times and this probably has taught them to choose to enjoy life anyway and never take anything for granted. That’s more than I can say about the perfectionist country of Sweden. And this is one big reason why we are moving.

    I love how this trip made you able to relax and seize every moment! What beautiful water at that beach – fantastic! And how lovely that such a beautiful beach isn’t overcrowded with tourists. Too bad you only had one hour, but maybe this made you enjoy it more!

    • kerrylifeandloves
      August 22, 2018 / 1:48 pm

      That is such a great saying, “in the end its like the stuff owns you” that is so true isnt it! The more we have the more we want! I agree with you about the more rural parts of Ireland too. My Mum’s family were Irish, so we spent time in Waterford as kids. So beautiful and simple. I think my husband and I will eventually move away from London. I love that we are so close to everything, but crave a slower pace, a simpler life. Good luck with your move, it sounds like it is going to be amazing for you x Thank you so much for your comment, you know I always value your input xxx

  15. January 12, 2019 / 9:18 am

    This is a fabulous piece of writing Kerry! I really enjoyed reading it! We are going to Sal in December so it will be interesting to compare 🙂

    • kerrylifeandloves
      January 12, 2019 / 11:55 am

      Ahhh thank you so much, I really appreciate your kind words. We nearly ended up in Sal, so yes, would be great to hear what you think of it. Thank you so much for stopping by xx

I love reading your comments x

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