Known for being a quiet island, São Nicolau is an island of peace and tranquility. Another great island for hiking with stunning views, the island also has unique black-sand beaches that are said to have healing powers. More inland, the pretty town of Ribeira Brava has beautiful colonial architecture, bright-colored houses and plentiful gardens. The Carbeirinho is a naturally stunning rock formation unique to the island that has to be seen in person to be truly appreciated as the wonder it is. São Nicolau is in the center of the Windward (Barlavento) group of islands between Santa Luzia and Sal.
This mountainous island, from which one can observe the rest of the archipelago in clear days, possesses an astonishing beauty. When visiting the island, one can get to know Ribeira Brava, which owes its name to the impetuousness of the stream crossing it during the rainy season.
The Cachaco area, despite the frequent fogs, offers a spectacular view above the village. Throughout the narrow streets, alleys and numerous squares the colonial influence in the architecture of the buildings is obvious.
From among these, the Igreja Matriz (mother church, the old Se) and the Seminario-Liceu (Seminary), the first secondary school not only of the archipelago but also of the whole western coast of Africa, are well worth visiting.
Many important personalities of the Cabo-verdean culture studied there. Other points of interest in the island are Faja, the writings on the Rotcha Scribida (writing on the rock) and the village of Tarrafal. At Faja, besides tracts of cultivated land, one can find as well the house where Baltazar Lopes da Silva, one of the all-time key figures in Cabo-verdean intellectual life was born.
The writings of the Rotcha Scribida were once the main tourist attraction in the island. Located at Ribeira da Prata – it takes some time to get to this far off place, Rotcha Scribida consists of a few sentences, carved on the rock in an iconographic language as yet unknown and increasingly imperceptible due to erosion.
At Tarrafal, a fishing village, you can enjoy the famous beaches with sands of medicinal value (rich in titanium and iodine) and sought by many people hoping to cure their illnesses.
The fishing and transformation of tuna fish are important activities around these parts. Surrounded by extremely rich seawaters, Sao Nicolau also attracts lovers of fishing from all around the world, anxiously hoping to catch the blue marlin and the swordfish, plentiful in these waters, especially from May till October.
But S. Nicolau’s true ex-libris is a secular tree, the “dragoeiro” (dragon tree), a true relic of other times.