How to Get to the Santa Maria Shipwreck in Boa Vista, Cabo Verde

Boa Vista is very much true to its name, meaning “good view” in Portuguese, with vast stretches of untouched white sand beaches, sparkling turquoise waters, and a friendly local population that make it the perfect holiday destination. Besides being known for its spectacular beaches, Boa Vista is home to the wreckage of a Spanish cargo ship that crashed on the northern part of the island in the fall of 1968. The famous M/S Cabo Santa Maria was on its way to Brazil and Argentina loaded with a variety of gifts—sports cars, machines, china, medicine, clothing, food and beverages—from the government of the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco to give to supporters overseas. The locals say the wreck will be gone in ten years due to erosion from the waves, so take the opportunity to see this shipwreck before it's too late!

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Walking around the streets of Sal Rei and in the various hotels/resorts, you will see advertisements for tours to see the Cabo Santa Maria shipwreck - ignore these. Unless you want to get scammed into an overpriced dune buggy ride with a large group of tourists who will spend about ten minutes at the shipwreck in order to take selfies, opt for this cheaper and more intimate option: hire a private car to take you to the shipwreck. We did so by going into Hotel Dunas and asking them to contact a driver willing to take us. This option cost us about $30 round trip, and we rode in the back of a Ford pick-up truck across the northern part of the island. Our driver left us for an hour to explore the shipwreck and go swimming on our own. Make sure your driver has a good car, since there is absolutely no road leading to this beach and you will be driving through sand dunes and desert for about 20 minutes. We watched several tour groups shuffle through on buses and dune buggies during this hour, but since no one stayed for more than ten minutes, we had a beautiful white sand beach to ourselves for the most part. Visiting the Santa Maria shipwreck was one of my favorite parts about visiting Boa Vista, so make sure to put it on your to-do list if you are visiting the island. 

It doesn’t hurt to bring a bag to fill up with garbage from the beach; although this remote beach is totally isolated, since it’s in the middle of the Atlantic, a lot of garbage washes up from other countries. Be sure to return any garbage to Sal Rei where it can be properly disposed of. If you love the beach, please help keep it clean! Also don't forget a water bottle and your swimsuit.