Boa Vista (Portuguese for Good View) is a round shaped island in the Cape Verde island chain in the Atlantic some 350miles west of Senegal, Africa. The islands are volcanic and lack a continental shelf and are typically pretty dry and dusty on the interior; Boa Vista also has stunning volcanic landscapes and miles of empty sand dunes. Trade winds blow NE across the island which measures some 20 odd miles tip to tip, and it’s free to pick up any swell going thanks to a large fetch in all directions.
Surf spot maps of Boa Vista are non existent, but I made one with the use of a GPS whilst I was there in February. Here is a run down of the spots and their wave potential, with my map to show you where the all are:
1. Riu Hotel Beach
Five minutes from the airport. Check in, put some shorts on and hit the beach in front of the hotel. Faces west, picks up any swell going. Pretty small in this photo, but it can get seriously huge. Cross off winds turning cross shore the further south you move down the beach. Beware the submerged ship wreck off to the right of the hotel.
2. Bahia Beach
Upwind (north) from Riu Beach, effectively the same beach. Expect stronger winds that are more offshore, and a bit more swell shelter than you’ll get at Riu; it was a bigger day in this photo hence bigger looking waves than Riu above. There is a windsurf / kite centre there and a decent little hangout bar run by a top local chap called Danny. Loads of space, little danger.
In the south west corner of the island, just one last rocky headland saves you from drifting off into the open ocean if you stuff it up badly enough here. Usually it’s a pretty slack, sloppy wave but a solid wind swell can see the place really showing it’s teeth. Lots of space, some flat rocks on the inside further upwind. Look out for the turtle shells and remains on the dunes, quite spooky…
Probably the place with the most potential on the island. Tucked around on the east coast, it needs a huge swell to wrap around and then it produces super clean long left handers that are so easy to carve up. Of course, we missed that day! Typically you can expect a fun, clean point wave with a flat water lagoon on the inside for freestyle. Some rocks near the point, and bang offshore winds mean you need to ride with a few other kiters for safety.
5. Ponta Antonia
Forgot to switch the GPS on the day we went here, hence not on the map – but it’s up in the north eastern corner of the island. Super clear water, lots of turtles swimming around. Choppy lagoon on the inside, rolling kickers on the outside for punting and slashing. A pretty spot with a protected feel to it, despite the large number of sharks lurking around the corner…
6. Ship Wrecks
A huge beach on the north of the island. Totally deserted but for the rusting hulk of a ship wreck that you can just make out in the sea mist in the photo. Typical Atlantic cross on shore blown out mess, strong current, quite bleak. Good flat water freestyle action between the waves on the inside, no glory further out.
7. English Reef
A British ship was wrecked out in the Bahia bay and it has created a pretty hot big wave spot. Other than the weight of the water, it’s pretty safe since there are no obstacles to hit as you’re in the open water. A snapped line or similar would eventually see you drift across the bay and come in somewhere near the Riu Hotel. Easily reached by a few tacks from Bahia Beach; naturally, safety in numbers.
8. Riu Beach Lagoon
On a big swell and spring tide, a neat little lagoon tucked behind a sand dune fills up with sea water. It’s pretty shallow, and once filled up can hold a few kiters. Super flat, lots of fun, nice and safe. Just walk out of the hotel onto the beach and turn right and you’ll see it.
Finally, the map! You’ll need to rent a 4wd as much of the driving is over rough tracks in 4wd mode, and to access Varandinha you are required to drive over an awful lot of big sand dunes that will test your rallying skills to the max.
Boa Vista is a great kitesurf destination for getting out of the European winter. It has reliable NE trade winds, picks up mid latitude west Atlantic swells and the conditions are pretty easy to figure out. An all inclusive package (flights, full board, transfer) to the Riu Hotel costs £750 for 1 week – it’s amazing value. Keep an eye on the charts and hit Boa the next time a huge low swings in.