Maio (May in English) island was named after its the day it was discovered, May
1st, 1460. Maio has an interesting history and prospered during the time when salt
was used as a preservative for food. The salt trade saw many ships dock at Porto
Inlges (English Port) which was named after the amount of English merchant ships
that stopped to trade for salt in Maio. It is alleged that Francis Drake and other
famous seamen docked in Maio during these early trading times.
Since the decline of the salt industry, Maio has been left with very little industry
other than a little agriculture industry. It has stuttered along until recent years
and has now seen a number of property investors enter the island to develop property.
Maio is now seeing the first of a few small resorts develop on the island such as
Salinas Village, Villa Maris and Salinas Beach Resort, bringing in more tourists
and investors into the island. Maio has been likened to Boa Vista and Sal due to
the white sandy beaches that surround it and many believe that it will attract tourists
in the near future. A number of local Cape Verdean and international developers
have intentions of developing resorts on Maio Island. Much interst for purchasing
on Maio has come from wealthy businessmen on neighbouring island Santiago, who are
looking for weekend holiday homes.
Maio is a flat island which is surrounded by golden sandy beaches. Its population
is a little over 5,400 inhabitants (2010) living on this small island of 269km2.
Its capital is Vila Do Maio which is also known as Porto Ingles. It is located about
2 miles from the airstrip and sits overlooking a lovely white sandy beach. The village
is fronted by a small jetty which is enough to receive a medium sized cargo boat.
The village is an old colonial village which has a junior school, a high school,
a church, a square and two hotels. Vila do Maio is a small and charming town. While
many of its buildings are in need of refurbishing at the moment, these will change
as investment enters the island and lift the village back to its earlier splendour.
There are a couple of restaurants in Maio namely Tutti Frutti and Trattoria and
visitors will be surprised by the good quality of food served.
Nearby is a small village called Morro. This is a very sleepy town with the remnants
of a few defunct property developments. The village has a high population of donkeys
and these are used to help local people with carrying heavy objects over long distances.
It is a trip back in time!
Calheta is a little fishing village where you can see local fishermen bring in their
catches on a daily basis. Most of the beaches in this area are deserted (except
for a few cows and donkeys grazing on the wild beach grass). Visitors can also see
Cape Verde’s largest forest on this island, which is not that big, but still a surprise
on such a small sandy island. Hotel Marilu is the local hotel in Calheta and it
is a family run hotel with clean but basic amenities.
The people of Maio live a relatively simple existence and there is not a lot to
do on the island. Maio is good for watersports such as surfing and windsurfing and
there are many sports played by the local people such as football, basketball and
handball. The weekends see the local people enjoying time on the beach or having
To get the best out of Maio, it is best to take a Jeep and go off road to see some
of the great beaches and salt plains. Beach enthusiasts may be able to see the turtles
which lay their eggs on the beaches of Maio. Keen divers can experience seeing some
of the shipwrecked boats that lay buried off the coast of the island. Local Cape
Verdeans allege that pirate treasure lays beneath the shores of Maio from some of
the ships that have sunk there, however no one has yet to prove this to be true.
Taking a careful walk around Vila Do Maio, you may encounter people who pick up
old coins from the sea and clean them up as gifts for tourists.
Maio has road, telephone and electric infrastructures, albeit of somewhat limited
quality for the moment, it is changing. There are Government plans to develop the
airport and port of Maio to allow better access to the island. This will help bring
in future tourism to the island. At the moment Maio remains untouched by tourism
and is a beautiful little island with some wonderful white sandy beaches.
Maio has a wonderful all year around sunny climate with temperatures averaging between
21 – 30 degrees. It has very little rainfall, possibly a few days a year when it
rains. It has a windy season between January and April which provide a warm and
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