First you must fly from wherever you land in Cabo Verde to São Vicente, take a taxi to Mindelo, the main town of São Vicente and from there take a ferry to Porto Novo on Santo Antão. (If you are already on Santo Antão -- in Paúl, Ribeira Grande or Ponta do Sol -- you must return to Porto Novo and continue on from there to Tarrafal.)
Residencial Antilhas in Porto Novo, just above the harbor, is the meeting point for transport to Tarrafal, or you may already find an Aluguer in the port when you arrive. The café on the terrace of Antilhas is a pleasant, shady place to wait. You can have breakfast, coffee or other drinks; they have clean toilets.
The trip from Porto Novo to Tarrafal takes about 2 to 3 hours. It is steep, slow, rough, dusty and bumpy, but it is an interesting, beautiful, unforgettable excursion, and the scenery as well as the arrival in Tarrafal make it worthwhile. Work is being done on the road that has already made part of the trip much more comfortable and will be improving. The average driving times are almost always closer to 2 hours. There are 2 types of transportation to and from Tarrafal:
Aluguer (or Collectivo) is a collective taxi that takes goods as well as passengers. The drivers do errands in Porto Novo and often wait until their cars are full before leaving for Tarrafal, so departure times vary: usually about 11:00 a.m., but sometimes earlier or later. For the return trip they leave Tarrafal at about 5:30 – 6:00 a.m.to reach Porto Novo in plenty of time to reach the early ferry. Price: 700 Escudos/6.36 Euro per person each way. Monday to Saturday.
“Taxi “ (or Frete) is a car with driver hired just for you and your traveling companions. You may leave any time or day you wish in both directions and make stops along the way. Price: 7000 to 9000 escudos for the whole car, 2 – 8 passengers, depending on which car and how much luggage. We can organize a taxi to pick you up directly in the harbor if you request it in advance. It is sometimes possible to share a taxi with other guests arriving the same day.