Cape Verde, or Cabo Verde, is a nation on a volcanic archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa. It’s known for its Creole Portuguese-African culture, traditional morna music and numerous beaches. Its largest island, Santiago, is home to the current capital, Praia. Santiago is also home to the old capital, Cidade Velha, with clifftop fortress Forte Real de São Felipe.
Caught in the Sahel zone, Cape Verde is really a marine extension of the Sahara. The northeast tradewind is responsible for much of its climate. It blows down particularly strongly from December to April, carrying so little moisture that only peaks of 600m or more can tease out any rain. The high peaks, particularly on Fogo, Santo Antão and Brava, can spend much of the year with their heads in the clouds.
There are countless things to do in Cape Verde, and it is worth spreading these activities across the days you spend in the archipelago, thus allowing you to gain a diverse and rewarding array of experiences. Deciding exactly what you want to do during your holiday can often be a process of stress and indecisiveness, so we’ve put together this list of our top 10 things to do in Cape Verde to help you make up your mind more easily.
Go diving or snorkelling:
There are a number of diving and snorkelling options for holidaymakers who want to explore Cape Verde beneath the waves. One of the best places to do this is on the island of Sal, with many opportunities presenting themselves from Santa Maria beach.
2. Chill on the beach:
Some people will find that relaxing on the beach is the best thing to do during their Cape Verde holiday. There are a number of great coastal spots to choose from, but among the finest are Santa Maria Beach on Sal, Praia de Chaves on Boa Vista and Santa Monica, also on Boa Vista.
3. Go Kitesurfing:
Cape Verde provides a fantastic range of water sports, but among the most exciting and rewarding are wind sports. Between January and May the winds can be quite strong on much of the coastline of Sal and Boa Vista, and this makes for some superb kitesurfing conditions. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a complete beginner, there is ample facilities and tuition available to holidaymakers looking to engage in the sport.
4. Stroll around Santa Maria:
Santa Maria, on the island of Sal, is a colourful and atmospheric place to wander around for a day or two, soaking up an authentic flavour of Cape Verde that would otherwise desert those who choose to spend their entire trip on the sand.
5. Spot Turtles:
You won’t even need to enter the water for this one, especially if you visit Ervatao Beach between July and September. This is the third most important loggerhead turtle nesting site in the world, where the turtles come to lay their eggs in the sand. The best time to see them is at night and a number of guided tours that will allow you to view this natural phenomenon during your holiday are available.
6. Hike to a volcano:
Slide on your hiking boots and grab your walking poles, the island of Fogo is superb for those that fancy getting active. There are a number of rewarding trails to attempt on the island, but one of the best has to be trekking in the Cha das Caldeiras towards the eerie remains of Pico do Fogo.
7. Go horse back riding:
Heading for a ride on horseback is one of the most enjoyable ways of soaking up the sights and the atmosphere of the island of Boa Vista. Holidaymakers will love travelling along the shoreline and racing through the surf; an excursion which is available every afternoon.
8.Try your hands at some fishing:
Another of Cape Verde’s fantastic water sports opportunities; fishing is extremely popular across the archipelago. Many of the islands offer guided fishing trips, though those from Sal and Boa Vista are the most readily available to tourists. Various types of fishing are on offer, from rock fishing and deep sea fishing, to big game fishing and surf casting.
9. Quad biking on Cape Verde sand dunes:
Quad biking tours are readily available across Sal and Boa Vista. Many will follow a strict itinerary guiding you from site to site or beach to beach, while others tend to stick to the island’s impressive sand dunes – a truly remarkable sight.
10. Visit Sal’s salt mines:
The salt mines of Pedra du Lume seem somewhat abandoned, but in the 18th century there were hundreds of people mining for salt here. The landscapes left by these old mines are very photogenic, but one of the real thrills of a visit comes in soaking yourself, or floating yourself, in the salt ponds it has left behind.
What would you like to do if you visited Cape Verde?