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In the eyes of the world, the archipelago of Cabo Verde is paradise. Pristine waters, lush vegetation on mountain islands, miles of white sandy beaches, crystal clear blue waters, volcano peaks

and lava rocks with cool nightly breezes that make up for a natural air-conditioner and a comfortable night's sleep. And then, there is DJEU, a group of deserted islets, a hidden spot within paradise, a mandatory stop located in equal distance just 4 miles north of Brava and northwest of Fogo. DJEU is the jewel in the crown of Cabo Verde.

DJEU is in every way a perfect escape; a place to explore the wilderness of the southern islands where rare birds find a tranquil place to nest, fish enjoy the clarity and richness of the deep Atlantic ocean and turtles swim thousands of miles for a chance to lay their eggs.

During a recent trip to Brava, it was suggested that our eco-tourism exploration trip take us to Djeu. It had been years since I last visited the place and I eagerly warmed to the idea. At five in the morning, the mini-bus was at our hotel ready to go. We started our slow descent through 99 curves from Vila to Furna under a bright sunrise that appeared on the south side of the neighboring island of Fogo. The sky was typically spectacular, Cabo Verde's way of saying "good morning" to its children.

At the fishing village of Furna, we bordered the small motor boat and headed to Djeu. The ocean was a bit choppy but no match for the excitement of a boat full of explorers who could hardly wait to spend a free day after days of meetings and presentations. When we first arrived, strong northeast breezes controlled the islet and were not friendly at all. But it wasn't long before it calmed down to welcome our presence and open up her glorious natural beauty that at times seemed dreamlike.

After a quick bite, some folks began fishing, and others, including me, opted to explore the windy side. Passing through bird nests from one side to the other, we suddenly stopped and exclaimed in unison – wow!

The north side of the smaller islet, known as "djeu di riba", possesses strong waves that over years have trimmed the strongest rocks into crescent-shaped white sandy mini beaches. What a spectacular view and relaxing place it is! After a couple of hours of discovery, pictures, fishing, diving, swimming and carefully walking around turtle tracks we returned to the south side for lunch.

By contrast, the south side offers a calm, gentle, restorative atmosphere, a volcanic black sand beach, and a place to restore body, mind, and soul or simply to indulge in basking in the natural glory.

Everyone sat around and each had a greater story to tell of their just discovered adventure of the north side. While we waited for the food, some people played cards, others begin to prepare the fresh catch and for some, the temptation to fall asleep in a hot day was irresistible under the cool breeze. Djeu's south side is a mysterious place and made especially for lovers, full of small and quiet natural pools surrounded by soothing waves and quiet water splashes. Whether you choose Fogo or Brava as background for your pictures, those memories are sure to jump start a new or strengthen an existing journey of love that will last a lifetime.

It was now a full day in Djeu and time to return to mainland. One by one, we began to board the small boat and headed back to Brava. The ocean had calmed down, the ardent sun of the day was now merely an afterthought as it set on top of Faja D'Agua and the lush vegetation of Brava awaits our return.

It was short, but the trip still remains vivid in our minds. It serves as a confirmation that once you sink your feet into the powdery white or black sand of the beaches in Djeu and then wade into the turquoise sea, you may never visit Cabo Verde again without a stop in Djeu.

My only wish is that its natural beauty is enjoyed now but preserved for generations to come.


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