One of the least discovered islands, Sao Nicolau has a very welcoming population and spectacular scenery. The island to the east of Santa Luzia is green and mountainous with good rainfall allowing good crops of fruits and coffee beans. Due to the perfect climate for the Dragon tree (Dragoeiro) this grows in abundance over the island.
The main draw for visitors is the breathtaking mountain range, Mount Gordo (1,340m above sea level)- ideal for hiking with it’s amazing views.
First discovered over 600 years ago by Portuguese explorers, the island was named after Saint Nicholas and 200 years later the first settlers moved onto the island becoming a permanent fixture. Through time they eventually moved from the coast to the capital Ribeira Brava to evade pirate attacks, prevalent at the time.
The island’s original population was devestated due to famine in the 1940s and 50s, but now has increased to a healthy level of around 20,000. The government recently has focused on the infrastructure of the island, implementing a 24 hour electricity supply for the island and creating more stable roads.
Empty white beaches are one of the many fine things this island has to offer, with clear blue seas and vast hiking paths through the forests of the Parque Natural Monte Gordo-encouraging people to explore the beautiful landscape of the island.
The town centre of the capital Ribeira Brava hosts the spectacular Praca sdo Torreiro church square and Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosario, a magnificent church builing with towers and blue facades. Preguica is a small fishing port which used to be a main trade harbour and whaling station while tarrafel, now the main fishing harbour, also boasts great coastal beaches for swimming with black, sandy expanses.
The weekend tourism has increased, a promising sign, with locals to inviting travellers to the island with hiking, birdwatching, fishing and mountain biking; the most popular adventures. However, however beautiful, it is not adviseable to trek alone with many guides available. Visitors to the island should prepare themselves with provisions of food and water before undertaking any of the island’s more strenuous activities and don’t forget your suncream!