Activities in Maio
You will be able to enjoy a number of activities in Maio. The island is not highly commercialised, however there are a number of things that the visitor can do. These include swimming, snorkelling, fishing, turtle watching, island tours and quad biking.
Maio is a quiet island so none of the activities we have listed are likely to be busy. It is possible, however, that some may not always be available, as during the low season some may be closed. Also some activities, such as turtle watching are seasonal.
Due to its geographic position Cape Verde’s waters are rich with sea life. Therefore many activities have marine connections. Maio has two marine reserves, so you will see a large range of fish in an unspoilt ecosystem. In the marine reserve at Ponta Preta there are a range of dives featuring walls and caves. You will see corals, sharks, mantas together with many more species. Maio is a year round dive destination, that also offers unspoilt diving away from the crowds.
Experience Maio’s abundant marine life from the surface. Take your own equipment or you can hire it locally. There are many species that can be seen from the surface especially around the rocky headlands and little coves. One of the best locations is just below the villa where you can enter the water from the small beach.
An organised tour of the island is the best way to see Maio. Such a tour can take in the salinas (salt pan), the sand dunes at Morrinho, the acacia forests together with some of the numerous little villages. The sand dunes are a designated wildlife area. There is also a pottery in Morro, which is worth a visit.
An alternative for seeing the island, or maybe just the main town of Vila do Maio (also known as Porto Inglês) is a walking tour. Vila do Maio is an attractive little town on multiple levels sloping down to the sea. The centre is the newly remodelled town square and the pretty church that looks out to sea. The nearby salinas (salt pan) together with the surrounding sand dunes are home to many birds. Furthermore the sand dunes provide nesting grounds for turtles. There are many unspoilt areas on the island for hiking further afield.
The islanders are very talented with their hands. They have to be because it is not possible to buy everything as you can in Europe; therefore most things have to be made locally. A tour will take you to some of the arts and crafts of Maio. Close to the Forte de São José, in Vila do Maio, there is a shop selling some of the local crafts, which make great souvenirs or gifts.
Maio Diversity Foundation (Fundação Maio Biodiversidade) aims to protect the island’s plants and animals. This includes the loggerhead turtles found in the waters around Maio and that nest in the sand dunes. It was established in 2010. It is possible to view the turtles when they nest and when the babies go into the sea (between July and October). The work can be supported by making donations and also by adopting a turtle nest. Sustainable tourism is one of their objectives.
The island of Maio offers really great fishing. You have the opportunity to fish with the most innovative techniques, both from a boat or alternatively from the beach. Deep sea fishing, includes troll, vertical jigging, casting, bottom fishing etc. You have the chance to catch blue marlin, sailfish, tuna, dorado, wahoo, grouper, amberjacks and even more. One of the best companies is Maio Fishing Club.
If seeing the fish rather than catching them is more your thing, then the Maio Fishing Club can also arrange trips. You might see whales, flying fish and turtles. Seeing these incredible creatures at relatively close range is exciting and educational.
It is possible to arrange a boat trip and the details can be discussed with the boat owner. Maybe it could include a trip out to see the fish or also a tour around the island.
You could hire mountain bikes and go up into the mountains or also cycle along deserted beach tracks. If you are fit enough we highly recommend cycling north west to the town of Riberia Dom Joao (Don John’s Creek). You will find a little oasis of palm trees where you can take a shady break, furthermore it is an ideal spot for bird watching. There you will find beautiful species that come there to nest.
Quad bikes can be hired, giving you the opportunity of seeing some of the island yourself. Some areas are restricted because of potential damage to the turtle nests. Quad bikes are great fun, however be prepared to get rather dusty, therefore don’t wear smart clothes.