Wlodzimierz J. Szymaniak



Fot nº 1 Vista geral da baía no Alto de Gouveia ©wjs

Travels in Africa usually fill us with many surprises and the Cape Verde is no exception. Today few people know that the forgotten village of Porto Gouveia, in the municipality of Ribeira Grande de Santiago, formerly housed an important river port. It should be noted that the small bay is well sheltered from the east winds and invites us to an interesting dive on the days when other parts of the sea surrounding the island seems uneasy and even hostile. To get there we have to use the road from Cidade Velha towards the Porto Mosquito, and in the place known as Alto de Gouveia (recognize the place by the presence of two telecommunication antennas) turn left, and pursuing a dirt path we spot a small bay, protected by rocky headlands. See map # 1

Mapa nº 1 Ilha de Santiago em 1890, tempos da prosperidade do Porto Gouveia, fonte: Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal, cota CC968A

In 1892 Christiano Joseph Senna Barcellos in the book about Cape Verde Archipelago  characterized the port as Gouveia as:


 It has good anchoring places for ships with high waterline, on sandy bottoms from 6 to 12 fathoms. It is frequented by large ships and coastal boats, which are attracted there because of the agricultural importance of the neighboring region. Near the beach we see a small town. (P. 31)

Today the only remains of the old port facilities is a small staircase, visible in photo # 1, which allows access to water. In the middle of the bay we noticed one intertidal rock whose base is the starting point for diving. In the calm days we can start diving directly from the ground without support of the boat.

After immersion in the depth of 11 meters, we find a reef with many labyrinth caves encrusted with coral. See photo 2

Fot nº 2, Furnas na base do recife ©wjs               

The caves are particularly appreciated by observers of high biodiversity that is, the presence of various fish, shellfish or anemones.

Fot nº 3 peixe rainha (em crioulo odjita) ©wjs

Fot. nº 4 “janelas” do recife ©wjs

On site, in addition to the diversity of the underwater landscape, we can appreciate several anchors of the navy that recall the maritime vocation of the island of Santiago.

Fot nº 5 Âncora num dos desfiladeiros do recife. ©wjs

Fot.  nº 7  Âncora calcinada ©wjs

The archaeological remains of the ancient port worth being inventoried, described and listed as national heritage. However, remember that these are fragile elements, easy to damage, so as in a museum, enjoy only with your eyes. Also we must not forget that the rock cavities are the natural habitat of many species where we are intruders, which partly explains the aggressive look of the moraine.

Fot. nº  8 Moreia pintada ©wjs

In the northwestern part of the reef the depth gradually increases to 30 meters, but the most interesting route is between 10 to 20 metros.Planing the dive we can take into account some rocks at the depth of 6 meters as ` possible decompression stop .


Finishing our tour in the old Gouveia port will surely be eager to return.



Senna Barcellos, José Christiano, Roteiro do Arquipélago de Cabo Verde. Lisboa: Typographia do Jornal As Colónias Portuguesas, 1892. 

Szymaniak, Wlodzimierz J. Tubarões de Moia-Moia, Guia de Mergulho e do Mar da Ilha de Santiago. Praia. Alfa Comunicações, 2014.