Cabo Verde
Visit Cabo Verde
Visit Cabo Verde

Maio Island is a hidden paradise, an invitation to true Morabeza

Maio is the quiet, welcoming island, unspoiled and protected from the tourist crowds. A piece of paradise that retains the authenticity of traditional Cape Verdean culture.

270 km²

Total area

500 m

Monte Penoso is the highest point of the island


15º 13' N 23º 09' W



Remote and paradisiacal, that's how one could describe the Island of Maio.

The Island of Maio, located in the Cape Verdean Sotavento group, has just under 270 square Km that house a population of eight thousand inhabitants.

Of volcanic origin, the island is one of the most remote and peripheral in the entire archipelago. Bathed by hot east winds, the island takes on a flattened identity similar to African deserts, were it not for the clear blue water and Mount Penoso at 500 meters high contradicting it.

Maio is pure beauty. Forgotten by civilization and mass tourism, the island hides a thousand treasures ready to be discovered by those seeking authenticity of land, culture and Cape Verdean beauty.

The island contains within itself a romantic side with hidden sites perfect for writing memories. However, it is also an unique destination for water sports thanks to its clean waters teeming with life and strong hot wind.


History is made from salt

The island of Maio was once an ancient port for exporting salt, a product that until the 20th century was produced here. Known in the past as "white gold," salt continues to play an important role on Maio and is currently one of its major tourist attractions. It's in the saltpans of Maio that stories are told and where the culture and identity of a people are preserved.

The town of Maio, capital of the island, was once known as Porto Inglês (English Port), alluding to British ships that loaded up with salt here. Today, it reveals significant tourist treasures such as the Matriz Church, St. Joseph Lighthouse, and Castle of Maio - remnants from when it was necessary to protect territories from pirate attacks. Serene and peaceful, the capital is a gathering place where card games are played amidst sounds of Creole music.

To the North lies Calheta - another major tourist attraction on this island. Here you'll find a fishing village coexisting with a bay surrounded by Cabo Verde's largest forested area. The acacias within it seem almost like a mirage against this flat desert landscape dotted across most parts of the island. In its center can be heard various sounds arising from numerous flocks seeking food and shelter there.

A miracle of life in a unique beauty

May is much more than golden sand beaches and blue sea. Visiting May is experiencing the work of fishermen and delighting in the products of this artisanal fishing. It's immersing oneself in the fresh blue waters and being amazed by the magnificent marine fauna.

May is life, at its finest. Here you can appreciate the nesting of turtles on various beaches of the island, witnessing the miracle that about three thousand females achieve each year. Between June and September, these turtles seek out May's warm sands to deposit their eggs. This is a wonderful visit program but it's important to do it together with a guide or biologist because these beaches are biosphere reserves and protected habitats.

Mostly, beaches are small and cozy, with strong blue waters and golden sands. It's here in May where some of Cabo Verde's most beautiful beaches are located:

  • Preta Beach
  • Porto Cais
  • Boca do Morro
  • Royal Beach
  • Lagoon Beach

Feeling May also means diving into people’s culture, where craftsmanship reigns supreme. With strong traditions in pottery making, Maio stands out for creating colorful decoration pieces as well as various kitchen utensils.

Source Somos Portugueses

Heading to the Island of Essence

Despite being known for its white sand beaches and lush green forest, Maio is a destination that's not often sought out by tourists. Perhaps because of this, the hotel offerings are limited. However, what does exist is made up of small, cozy guesthouses with traditional architecture where you can truly feel the essence of Maio.

In terms of cuisine, the standout dish is Caldeira de Peixe (Fish Stew), made with grouper and lobster. And let's not forget about Maio cheese, made from goat milk which stands out for its unique flavor. It's commonly served with guava paste or papaya jam but can also be enjoyed in pudding form - yet another wonder in Cape Verdean cuisine.

Pocket guide to the island of Maio

See below the perfect attractions of the beautiful island of Maio:

sun_sea.svgSun and Beach Attractions

Source Rotas Turisticas

  • Ribeira de São João Beach
  • Dunas Beach (Morrinho)
  • Baxonha & Ribinha Beach (Calheta)
  • Beach Rotcha Beach (Vila Porto Inglês)
  • Boca Ribeira Beach (Pedro Vaz)
  • Calheta Beach (Calheta)
  • Cdjetinha de Morrinho Beach (Morrinho)
  • Flamengo Beach (Pilão Cão)
  • João de Martinho Beach (Pedro Vaz)
  • Lagoa Beach (Barreiro)
  • Laje Branca Beach (Cascabulho)
  • Ponta Preta Beach (Vila Porto Inglês)
  • Porto Cais Beach (Porto Cais)
  • Porto Inglês Beach (Vila Porto Inglês)
  • Ribeira Funda Beach (Ribeira de São João)
  • Santa Clara Beach (Pilão Cão)
  • Santana Beach (Morrinho)
  • Santo António Beach (Ribeira de São João)
  • Seada Beach (Barreiro)
  • Soca Beach (Calheta)
  • Barreiro Beach (Barreiro)
  • Galeão Beach (Cascabulho)
  • Maio Beach (Vila Porto Inglês)
  • Morro Beach (Morro)
  • Pau Seco Beach (Morrinho)
  • Real Beach (Cascabulho)
  • Praiona Beach (Calheta)

anture_rural_tourism.svgNature and Adventure Attractions


  • Figueira Lapa Bay (Santo António)
  • Praia Real Bay (Morrinho)
  • Santana Bay (Morrinho)
  • Galeão Bay (Cascabulho)
  • Bay and Lagoon of Boca Lagoa (Lagoa)
  • Centro Zootécnico (Calheta)
  • Dunes of Morrinho (Morrinho)
  • Islet of Laje Branca (Cascabulho)
  • Lagoon of Cimidor (Ribeira de São João)
  • Lagoon of Casas Velhas (Vila Porto Inglês)
  • White Mount (Morrinho)
  • Penoso Mount (Monte Penoso)
  • Santo António Mount (Santo António)
  • Turtle Watching (Lagoa, Barreiro, Salinas Porto inglês, Terras Salgadas)
  • English Port Salines (Vila Porto Inglês)
  • Terras Salgadas (Morrinho)

aquatic_nautical.svgNautic Attractions


  • Scuba Dive
  • Jet Ski
  • Sport Fishing
  • Traditional Fishing (Vila Porto Inglês, Calheta, Ribeira de João e Barreiro)
  • Snorkeling (Vila Porto Inglês)
  • Surf (Vila Porto Inglês)
  • Windsurf (Vila Porto Inglês)

cultural_tourism.svgCultural Attractions

Source Research Gate

  • Ribeira de São João Village (Ribeira de São João)
  • Nossa Sra de Fátima Chapel (Morro)
  • Nossa Sra do Rosário Chapel (Monte Penoso)
  • Nossa Sra do Socorro Chapel (Cascabulho)
  • Santa Ana e Joaquim Chapel (Morrinho)
  • Santo António Chapel (Ribeira de Santo António)
  • São José Chapel (Calheta)
  • Ceramic Center of Morro (Morro)
  • Ceramic Center (Calheta)
  • Cruz Santana (Morrinho)
  • São José Lighthouse (Vila Porto Inglês)
  • São João Festival (Ribeira de São João)
  • São Pedro Festival (Pedro Vaz)
  • Município Festival (Porto Inglês)
  • Fornos de Carvão (Calheta)
  • Fort of São José (Vila Porto Inglês)
  • Matriz Church (Vila Porto Inglês)
  • Nossa Senhora da Luz Church (Vila Porto Inglês)
  • Calheta Village (Calheta)
  • Morrinho Village (Morrinho)
  • Pedro Vaz Village (Pedro Vaz)
  • Barreiro Village (Barreiro)
  • Place of Porto Inglês (Vila Porto Inglês)
  • Nature Reserve of Praia do Morro (Morro)

Other informations about Maio Island

Source Revista Bicicleta

To get around Maio, the most interesting mode of transportation is undoubtedly the bicycle.

For those who have ample time to explore the island, doing so by bicycle will allow one to get to know every corner of the island.

However, there's also the option to rent a car with a driver who will guide visitors to the most significant and magnificent spots on the island.

Whichever mode of transportation is chosen, it can be rented in the village of Maio.


Explore Cabo Verde

Sun and beach, mountain trails, landscapes of a nature that so easily springs up everywhere and a wealth of customs and traditions that does not translate into any price: Cabo Verde is a paradise that rests by the sea.

With the morabeza of the people and the magic that is only found in Islands of sun and sea, this archipelago is a universe of experiences to discover.

Flavors, smells and colors permeate memories and here you can feel the warm breeze on the skin and the sweetness of life.

Travel Wise

Getting to know a new country is synonymous with new adventures. Each country is a country. It is a different culture, with its own laws, customs, tastes and peculiarities distinct from any other part of the world.

Preparing your trip in advance can save you some challenges.

Here you can find the most frequent questions of travelers and some tips so that you can get to know the country smoothly.



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