A holiday destination that has seen a radical growth in the industry in recent few years is Cape Verde. Located off the coast of West Africa, and made up of several extinct volcanic islands, it may not be as familiar a name as Spain or Greece. However, on closer inspection, its popularity with holidaymakers is not hard to understand.
With its lush silver beaches and perpetual sunshine, it has become a tourist hotspot for many Brits due to its modest six-hour flight and strong winter climate. Along with their spectacular natural resources, the islands also offer an assortment of rich local Creole culture, from their traditional morna music and dance to their sugar cane distilled rum named Grogue. The islands’ wide range of authentic Cape Verdean experiences should ensure your delight.
The island of Sal is a perhaps the biggest hit among tourists and here’s why:
The town of Santa Maria is home to a wealth of bars and restaurants where freshly caught fish features prominently on the menus. The fusion of Portuguese and African flavours and spices help to conjure up delicious food unique to the island’s identity, with the Cachupa stew a quintessential example and a favourite amongst the locals. The Sal market is a hotbed for picking up local jewellery, clothes and other traditional handcrafted expressions of the Cape Verdean people, and is also where an array of fresh ingredients for the food are purchased. A few miles north of the town centre you can visit the Pedra Lume Salt Centre. As a result of the abundance of volcanic salt pools found on the islands, in the past, the salt was exported to Brazil and Portugal. However, recently, the pools have been adapted into a tourist attraction. Due to the high density levels, you’re able to float on top of the warm water, causing a unique sensory experience. The levels of salt can be so dense that you can almost walk across the water. Be careful when adjusting to life back on land though, as you may have difficulty walking for a few minutes afterwards!
Santa Maria Beach, located on the South of Sal, is one of the finest of its kind throughout the islands. It is an impressive scenic landscape, with vast stretches of white sand surrounded by the crystal clear ocean coalescing into its centre point, the pier, where local fisherman can be found returning with their fresh catches. This is a great place to observe the day-to-day life of the locals, with people participating in generating the bustling atmosphere, akin to any top beach destination throughout Europe or the Caribbean, with the added bonus of authenticity that some more popular destinations can be void of. By the edge of the beach, a variety of surf and gift shops, bars and cafes can be found, along with some of the main hotels in this resort.
The warm turquoise waters surrounding the island host conditions perfect for activities such as snorkelling, providing the waves are not too wild. If the climate is right, it is not uncommon to see a range of marine life from dolphins and turtles to humpback whales and even (friendly) sharks. Between November and June, the steady winds make Sal an ideal place to go wind and kite surfing. However, if you feel the water sports are too full-on for you, a great alternative in the evening is the Project Biodiversity Turtle Conservation Hatchery, a conservationist programme where the newly hatched turtles make their journey back to the ocean. This is a great opportunity to see the creatures in their natural environment in what can be a truly emotive experience.
Although we’ve only covered the island of Sal, be sure to check out our blog for info on the other islands of Cape Verde and what they have to offer . However you like to spend your holiday, this diverse set of small islands should cater for all your needs. For more information on our flights and accommodation to Cape Verde, head to our Facebook page now.