There are ferry connections to all nine inhabited islands, and prices are reasonable. However, be prepared for delays. Seas can be rough, and most boats also carry cargo, so unloading time can be unpredictable. Sometimes departures are delayed by a day or more. There are cafés onboard, but it’s always a good idea to bring a reserve of water and snacks.
The most reliable – and comfortable – service is via SMT’s Tarrafal, which connects Mindelo and Praia via Saõ Nicolau. Twice a week, boats leave Mindelo in the early afternoon, arrive in Saõ Nicolau in the evening, and then head to Praia overnight, arriving the following morning. In the other direction, the Tarrafal leaves in the evening from Praia, arriving the following morning at São Nicolau and in Mindelo around midday.
The twice-daily service between São Vicente and Santo Antão is also very reliable. The trip lasts one hour and costs CVE600.
Polar (2-615223; Av Unidade Guiné-Cabo Verde, Santiago) operates a ferry that generally connects Praia, Fogo, Brava, and Maio, but also sometimes hits all the islands, including Boa Vista, Sal, São Vicente and São Nicolau. Prices vary. The short one- to two-hour trip from Fogo to Brava costs about CVE7000. The overnight trip from Praia to Sal costs CVE2100 in the second-class lounge and CVE3400 for an overnight berth.
In the town of Espargos on Sal, the Anaú agency also handles boats to São Vicente. The eight- to 12-hour trip costs around CVE2500 (CVE4200 per person for a fairly comfortable overnight berth with four beds).
You can rent cars on many islands, but the only three that make the expense worth it are Santiago, Boa Vista and possibly Fogo. Consider a four-wheel drive, as conditions are rough once you get off the few main roads. The largest company is Alucar (firstname.lastname@example.org; Praia2-615801; Sal2-421187; São Vicente2-325194). Cars cost from about CVE4500 per day, including tax and insurance all-inclusive, with the first 100km free (CVE0.10 per kilometre thereafter). As tourism grows, international car rental agencies are also opening shop. Check at airports upon arrival.
TACV serves all the inhabited islands except Brava. Internal flights are slightly cheaper if you buy tickets in Cape Verde. If you’re taking two or more internal flights, you may want to purchase TACV’s Cabo Verde AirPass (available from travel agencies abroad but not in Cape Verde). You have to arrive by TACV to qualify. In addition, savings are small, and may not be worth the sacrifice in flexibility.
Note that if flights are full, it’s well worth flying standby as no-shows are very common. Also, be prepared to purchase you ticket in cash as most travel agencies and even some TACV offices don’t accept credit cards or traveller’s cheques.
Cycling is a good way to get around the islands, but there are few places to rent them; think about bringing your own.