Tarrafal offers impressive natural scenary and smiley, humble people. Although it is lacking a "city-like" feel
like Praia, there are plenty of things to do and see. Here's a list of activities & some of our local tour guides who host them. We've also included some sites that are about 30 minute drive away.
At Dive Center Santiago beginner, intermediate, and advanced courses are offered including PADI and SSI certification. For unexperienced guests, they offer "Try Dive" courses which are about 3 hour which are comprised of theory, a few exercises, and a guided dive.
The center has reliable equipment including 50 steel tanks 10/12/15 with DIN connections and Bauer Compressors (sound-isolated). They also offer guided snorkeling. Please contact them ahead of time to schedule a course.
The hostel also rents out snorkeling gear for 500 CVE.
Tarrafal is home to a former concentration camp (now known as the Museu da Resistência) which was built by a Portuguese dictator in 1933 to imprison Portuguese and African rebels and functioned as such until Cape Verde won its independence in 1975. Today it serves as a museum and landmark for dark tourism.
Present day Tarrafal is quite calm, however, on Thursdays our market is expanded with vendors from all over the island selling everything from produce to African dresses. Below is a picture of Danny, one of the best tailors of Tarrafal who also speaks English fluently.
You can walk the entire village of Tarrafal and surrounding areas pretty quickly,
however, some prefer to ride around in theTuk Tuk vehicles for more efficiency.
You can rent them along with a guide or for private use.
FAROL DA PONTA PRETA
This "Farol" or lighthouse is located off of the north western coast of Santiago. You can get here by trekking Monte Graciosa. There is a small village named "Fazenda" nearby. A local tour guide is highly recommended for your safety. Here is a treking map provided by SabAdi Aventura Tours and their facebook page:
SERRA MALAGUETA NATURAL PARK
The Serra Malagueta mountain range reaches 1064 meter elevation making it Santiago's 2nd highest point. It is of volcanic origin and was formed around 2 million years ago. It features 124 species of plants, 19 species of birds, 4 species of mammals, and 6 species of reptiles. It's level of vegetation depends on the time of year. It is greenest between August and October.
We highly suggest that you hire a tour guide for trekking in this area for two reasons. Firstly, the mountain range is huge and the trails can be confusing. Secondly, there has been a upsurge in robberies specifically against tourists. Having a known tour guide at your side substantially decreases your risk of being robbed as theives understand that the tour guide will be able to identify them to local authorities. Hostel guests receive a special discounted rate with Rural Tours for trips to Serra Malagueta and Pico da Antonia.
PE DI POLON
"CV's Biggest Tree"
This Kapok tree stands 25 meters tall. It sits at the bottom of a valley in a small village called "Boa Entrada" just outside of Assomada. It seems to be a safe trek to do alone as it is downward slopping and no reportings of robberies have occurred (so far). From Tarrafal, you take an aluguer to Assomada and tell the driver you are going to Boa Entrada. He will drop you off at the entrance road to Boa Entrada in Assomada. You will take this road down until you reach the very bottom. It takes about 25 minutes to walk it. There are Toyota Hilux pickup trucks that pass by there if you'd like to ride one instead of walking.
PICO DE ANTONIA
At 1,392 meters it is the highest point of Santiago island. It is a very difficult trek, only for advanced hikers. Again, Rural Tours is highly trained on this trek & has a special discounted rate for hostel guests.
Learn how to surf from Cape Verde's national champion,
Kabungo. He is not only the best surfer around but also a warm philanthropist dedicating many years and energy into providing free surf and swimming classes to the youth of Tarrafal. He speaks Portuguese and English very fluently. He also understands a good amount of German and French.
Engage in a fantastic voyage with Jair of Boat Trip & Surf Zone Tarrafal. He is skilled at doing all types of sea excursions with a traditional boat. He has also has fishing, snorkeling, paddling, and surfing gear that he can rent to you or even give you a guided tour. He speaks Portuguese, French, and some English.
RABELADOS VILLAGE & CALETA DE SAO MIGUEL
The Rabelados are a group of people who rebelled against the Portuguese and fled to the northern parts of Santiago island. The largest community of them live in Espinho Branco which is about 20 minutes away from the hostel on the road to Calheta de Sao Miguel. Although they have modernized their ways in recent years, their way of life is still very different compared to that of the greater population. They live in hut-like homes and reject elements of mass media like radios, televisions, or internet. They work in agriculture, fishing, handcrafts, and are particulary famous for their art center "Rabelarti". They have religous ceremonies where they travel on foot long distances and fast until mid-afternoon. If you are interested in a tour or a specially prepared meal, please contact their organizer via facebook: Sabino Gomes Rabelarti.
Calheta is a quant beach town with little touristic attractions, however, there is a church called "Ingreja Sao Miguel Arcanjo" that some may say is worth visiting if already in the area.
While there isn't much night life in Tarrafal for the majority of the year. We do have two regular shows that go on during the week. Batuka is a traditional form of music where you have a group of chanters singing a song (usually about cultural issues or historical events) while beating a drum-like sack and shaking their hips rapidly. Every Thursday a show starts at 8 pm at the Buzios Restaraunt. At the end of the show, the performers chose audience members to come up and perform with therm. Free Admission. Dinner is served at this event but not required.
There is also another event held at 8 pm on Thursdays at the King Fisher Resort. It is called "Noite de Danca" (Dance Night). A group of performers do traditonal dances and stunts. At the end of their show, they invite the audience to learn how to dance Kizomba with them. Free Admission. Dinner is also served at this event but not required.
There are several organizations that you can get involved with to make a difference in the community. Below are some links to them. Feel free to contact us if you would like help planning your community service in advance. We consider responsible tourism as a form of ecotourism and are always willing to give a hand in promoting it.