The Santa Maria shipwreck (a cargo ship that ran aground in 1968 on a voyage between Spain and Brazil) is located off the northern coast of Boa Vista island, about 6km from the capital Sal Rei.
We visited the shipwreck in May 2011 courtesy of an off road pick up truck which drove us over the sand dunes to Santa Maria beach.
A continuous succession of waves rolled on to the beach, but they were fairly tame (compared to those at Praia Lacacao on the island's southern coast) so we were able to enjoy a swim close to the shipwreck.
During our visit to Boa Vista island in May 2011, we spent a day on the back of a 4 wheel drive pick up truck exploring the island.
We set out from the Riu Touareg hotel on the island's southern coast and headed roughly anti-clockwise around the island.
Our driver and guide took us to the deserted village and unspoilt beach of Curral Velho before heading up the east coast to Ervatao beach.
We then visited the villages of Cabeca dos Tarafes, Fundo das Figueiras, Joao Galego and Bofareira before heading off road through the sand dunes to see the Santa Maria shipwreck.
The quality of road varied enormously; from the newly opened tarmac road between Rabil and the south of the island to the sand, dirt and rock tracks of the island's interior. Sometimes there was no road - our pick up truck created its own path as it went along!
We spent much of the day being shaken around on the back of the pick up truck - but this bumpy journey is the best (and probably only!) way to explore the island of Boa Vista!