“The Misty Island of Flowers”
Brava is the smallest inhabited island of the Cape Verdean archipelago. Due to limited resources and isolation from the other islands, its inhabitants have been particularly eager to emigrate over the centuries. As a result, when American whaling ships stopped there in the mid 19th century (during the same era in which Moby Dick was written), many of Brava’s able-bodied men signed on as deckhands, harpooners, and other strenuous jobs at sea. Many of these same brave men ended up settling in places such as New Bedford and Nantucket, Massachusetts, the centers of the whaling fishery in the United States. Soon later they sent for their families and thus was born the Cape Verdean-American community in southern New England. To this day, the connection between Brava (and Fogo) and the greater Boston metropolitan area remains vibrant and dynamic. This also explains the very strong and healthy diplomatic relations between the United States and the Republic of Cabo Verde.
To get to Brava, you’ll need to travel by ferry from Fogo. After an easy 40-50 minute ride, you’ll arrive in the tiny port town of Furna. To arrive at Vila de Nova Sintra, the island’s capital nestled in the highlands, you’ll catch a ride up the so-called “99 curves” of the island’s main road. When you step out of the van or pickup truck, you’ll find yourself in the midst of what seems to be one huge garden full of hibiscus, oleander, bougainvillea, and other fragrant and colorful flowers.
We recommend a stay of two nights on the island before heading back to Fogo or Santiago. One of the best things to do in Brava is hike the misty, green mountains, where you’ll marvel at the beauty of the island’s quiet isolation and fresh air. On your second day, take a ride to Fajã de Água where you’ll bathe in natural rock pools. And don’t be surprised if you hear some American English while you’re there!