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The Ultimate 7-Day Cape Verde Itinerary (& 7 Pro Tips)

When I embarked on a journey to the small, remote Cape (Cabo) Verde islands in the middle of the Atlantic, I did not know what to expect.

Would the islands, because of their deep importance with the Atlantic slave trade routes, remind me of my travels across Senegal ? Or instead, would they remind me of the Canary Islands or even the Azores?

What I experienced instead was totally unexpected – and far better.

Though I’m jealous of those who get to spend weeks on end in these enchanting islands, a week is just enough to get a good taste of Cape Verde. And perhaps little enough to make you want to come back for more.

The Ultimate 7-Day Cape Verde (Cabo Verde) Itinerary

This jam-packed 7-day expedition across Cape Verde is sure to maximize your exploration and enjoyment of these magnificent islands.

  • Fly directly to Sal, Cape Verde (SID) and explore this magnificent desert-island: 2 days
  • Hop on a local turboprop plane and ferry to Santo Antão for 3 days of ultimate hiking
  • Ferry back to São Vicente for an incredible night in Mindelo
  • Turboprop it down to Praia, Santiago Island and enjoy the most underrated island of Cape Verde: 2 days

Pro Tip : Book a multi-city ticket finishing your trip in Praia – where you can either fly directly to Europe and Africa, or connect in Sal for your onwards flight. This way you do a nice circuit tour of the islands.

Related: The 20 Ultimate Things to Do in Sal, Cape Verde [2023-2024]

What to do with 9 days in Cape (Cabo) Verde?

An additional adventure I wish I had done in Cabo Verde is exploring the nation’s only active volcano , on Fogo Island .

Some people only spend one full day in Fogo, as it is a small island. However, I recommend taking a full 2-day dose of this gem so you have time to hike and rest.

What you need to know before traveling to and around Cape Verde

Cape verde travel requirements.

As of May 2023, Cape Verde has removed all Covid-19 restrictions.

  • Many flights are running to Sal and Praia from Europe and Africa, on airlines such as Air Senegal, TAP Air Portugal, Azores, Royal Air Maroc, and TUIFly.
  • Restaurants are mostly open as pre-covid, with only a few restaurants that shut down during the pandemic.
  • There is not currently a curfew or limitations on seating, indoors or out.

Pro Tip: iVisa is a great tool to assist with the any visa concerns you may have prior to entering Cape Verde. They offer free advice and information without needing to sign up for anything.

How to book flights within Cape Verde

The pre-covid airline that was running convenient flights between the Cape Verde islands, TICV, is out of business. Replacing that airline is BestFly – an Angolan airline that picked up TICV’s route structure, airplanes, and infrastructure.

In other words, you will basically have the same services as before.

I’ve had zero luck booking my flights on BestFly’s online website . The online payment always fails. However, the website is a great place to check schedules. And maybe you’ll have better luck booking than I did.

I’m told by locals that the BestFly website online works for bookings made a month or more ahead. I’m not even sure that’s true.

Since we were much more last-minute with our bookings, we were forced to visit a travel agency in Cape Verde to book our flights for a surcharge of about $11USD per booking. There are many tour agencies; Girassol (2 locations in Santiago), Polar (Praia, Santiago), Barracuda Tours (Sal), Morabitur and more.

Pro Tip : If you can’t book online with BestFly, contact a tour operator as early as possible; flights tend to fill up 3-10 days ahead, and there’s no way to book them once they’re full.

Best way to rent a car across Cape Verde

There’s an excellent, family owned, one-stop rental car company that covers almost all of the islands.

They’re called caboverde Rental Cars and they have top-rated partners around most of the airports and ferry terminals.

I mention them now because you can sort out all your bookings from one convenient website instead of having to crawl around searching for each one individually.

First Stop: Sal, Cape Verde (2 Days)

Sal is characterized as a typical beach destination for sunshine-seeking European holidayers looking to get some sun. But it can be fun too. In fact, I absolutely recommend reading about the 20 Ultimate Things You Can Do in Sal, Cape Verde .

What to do in Sal, Cape Verde

Our favorite activity in Sal was the diving at the Santa Maria Dive Center , which was much better than we ever expected.

  • Dive crystal-clear warm waters beaming with sea life
  • Rent an ATV Quad and hop along sand dunes
  • Go for a swim and enjoy the beach or resort life

Take a kite surf lesson

  • Enjoy Cape Verde’s finest cuisine

Dive Cape Verde’s splendid waters

Divers from abroad might be surprised to hear that the diving in Cape Verde is actually quite good . From large shipwrecks to underwater mountains and enormous drop offs, there’s something to see for everyone.

The infrastructure is actually pretty good too, with lines attached down to popular shipwrecks and well documented dive sites. Depths vary from 30 feet for some wrecks to 130+ feet on some of the walls.

Underwater wildlife includes giant turtles, manta and eagle rays, sharks of various sorts, and occasionally even whales!

Rent an ATV and explore salt and sand dunes

There’s no shortage of ATV / 4×4 rentals in Santa Maria, and the entire island is quite accessible.

You can reach the Dune of Sal from Santa Maria in about 10 minutes for a world of fun hopping around the dunes.

The combination of constant, strong trade winds and miles of pristine shoreline makes for a wonderful place to kite surf. There are dozens of outfits that have kite surf schools , including Mito & Djo Kite Surf School.

Relax at the beach

Looking to unwind and relax? I can’t blame you. After all, it’s likely you had a long journey to get here.

Sal offers miles and miles of unspoiled white sand beaches and clear, turquoise water.

Ponta Sino, the main beach just off of Santa Maria, is a wonderful place to relax. Afterwards, head to nearby Cape Fruit and grab a fresh fruit smoothie to rehydrate after a day of sun.

Best places to eat in Santa Maria

As a mega hub for European tourists, Sal has quite a few restaurants… and many of them are quite good!

Although we loved Cape Fruit for a quick snack and healthy food, we loved Soul Kitchen for its truly exceptional cuisine and prime beachfront location.

Another great spot is R estaurante Farolim, located on a jetty over the water. It’s probably the best-placed restaurant on the island.

Best places to stay in Santa Maria

There are plenty of places to stay in Santa Maria, Sal, for all kinds of budgets.

For those visiting Sal on a lower to average budget, we strongly recommend Casa Pau and Casa Blue . Both offer shared or private rooms, options of fantastic complimentary breakfast, and great service.

Those on a higher budget won’t struggle to find world-class resorts, such as the Hotel Riu Palace Santa Maria – with the absolute prime location of the island.

Next stop: the brilliant island of Santo Antão, Cape Verde (3 Days)

Wondering why this itinerary calls for 3 days in Santo Antão, unlike the other islands?

Here’s why;

Santo Antão is Cape Verde’s best island

If you’re planning on staying longer on any particular island, Santo Antão is the one you should choose.

In every single island we visited, I mean every island, the locals told us about their favorite island: Santo Antão.

And the second we arrived in Porto Novo, we understood why.

Santo Antão: also the most beautiful island of Cape Verde?

Without a doubt, Santo Antão takes the cake for most beautiful island not just in Cape Verde, but much of the world.

Extravagant valleys and jaw-droppingly massive volcanic mountains and cliffs make the island jut out of the Atlantic with incredible beauty.

The islands are raw nature at its finest, and there’s no other way to put it.

You can experience the beauty of Santo Antão on a plethora of amazing hikes located on all corners of the island.

How to get from Sal to Santo Antão, Cape Verde on the same day

Wondering how to get to Santo Antão?

It’s very easy from Sal or Santiago. All it takes is a flight to Sao Vicente and then a ferry ride to Santo Antão.

Getting from Sal to Santo Antão, all the way on the other end of the Cape Verde islands, may seem like a stretch – especially considering that Santo Antão does not have an active airport.

But it’s feasible, even easy.

You’ll need to book a flight on BestFly from SID-VXE (Sal to São Vicente). The flight should arrive in Sao Vicente before 1PM so you can make the 2PM ferry to Santo Antao.

As of November 2021, there is a 950AM or 1150AM flight (depending on the day) on BestFly from Sal to São Vicente. There are also two flights per day from Praia.

Getting from Sao Vicente Airport to the Ferry

The next step is getting to the ferry in São Vicente so you can head to Santo Antão.

Upon arrival, exit to the left and head to a taxi stand. Ask for the ferry. A one-way fare from São Vicente to the Mindelo Ferry Port costs 1000CVE ($10USD) and takes 15-20 minutes.

The ferry schedule, as of November 2021, is as follows:

The last departure to Santo Antão departs at 1400, which can be made with ease if you take any flight departing from Sal before noon.

Pro Tip : Make sure to book your ferry ticket ahead at CV Interhilas to skip the line and have an easier time.

The ferry from São Vicente to Santo Antão costs about 800CVE per person and takes just under an hour.

Renting a car from the ferry port in Santo Antão

You can rent a car directly from the ferry port in Porto Novo, Santo Antão.

We rented a lovely 4×4 Suzuki Jimmy for less than $50USD per day with Vale&Montanha . A representative from the rental agency had the car ready and waiting for us at the port.

He had us sign a few papers, leave a $200USD deposit (cash only) and then we were on our way. We had no hassles or issues with our rental.

The best hotel in all of Cape Verde. Surprise: it’s not expensive!

We spent hours going through all of the hotels on Santo Antão before we found this one. And even then, it took a couple phone calls and some patience before we confirmed our reservation for one night.

And what a night it was.

Quinta Cochete , located basically in the middle of the island, is such a gem of a hotel. It’s not expensive, at less than $100USD a night, but it should be.

The food here is at standards not found outside top chef restaurants in Europe, the views include 360 degrees of complete stupefaction, and if that’s not enough there’s a complete garden and animal farm to keep you company.

The owner is supremely friendly and the ambiance here is of utmost relaxation. You’ll be in a prime location to start some of the best hikes on the island and after eating to your hearts content and sleeping like sleeping beauty, you’ll be ready for them.

What to do in Santo Antão

The whole time we were in Santo Antão, we had one thought: “man, this place really gives Hawaii a run for its money”.

There’s just so much nature to enjoy here. Make sure to:

  • Head up to Ponta do Sol for epic sunset and sunrise views.
  • Hike along the north shore from Ponta do Sol through Fontainhas onto Corva and take a taxi back
  • Visit Paul’s Cove and explore the area
  • Get lost driving around the island in a 4×4 and enjoy the most epic views of your life

Third stop: Mindelo, São Vicente

Mindelo is a surprisingly large and densely populated city in São Vicente.

Here you’ll find sailboats moored on the gorgeous bay surrounded by jagged volcanic mountains with brightly colored houses and building adorning the hills of the city.

There are a number of great restaurants and hotels here, and Mindelo makes for a quite pleasant – but not totally necessary stop.

How to get from Santo Antão to São Vicente

You have the choice between a 9AM or 4PM ferry, either of which takes about an hour. We chose to take the 4PM ferry and spend a night exploring Mindelo, but you could take a 9AM ferry followed by a flight to your next destination.

Again, booked on CV Interhilas.

The Ultimate Night in Mindelo and What You Need to Know

After hopping off the ferry, take a taxi for 200CVE ($2USD) and head to the nicest viewpoint in Mindelo; the Casamarel.

Pro Tip : Avoid non-official taxis if you can. It’s pretty obvious when you see the car.

The Casamarel is a well-priced yet luxurious and not yet discovered restaurant/hotel with a lovely pool and even better views.

Stay and eat here for a wonderful evening of good food, great accommodations, and a view on the city and bay for sunset. Maybe with your bae. Up to you.

Walking around Mindelo is generally safe, but we were told to take taxis at night. We did not and had no issues; it’s up to you to decide. The locals probably know best.

What to do around Mindelo

  • Perfect your negotiation skills at the Central Market
  • Take a swim on the white-sand Praia de Laginha
  • Rent a scooter and explore the island

Make sure not to miss the Central Market of Mindelo. It’s one of the more authentic ones I’ve seen.

There’s an incredible white-sand beach right in the heart of downtown called Praia de Laginha . It makes for a fun afternoon of jumping in and out of rough waves.

Pro Tip : For those looking to explore more of São Vicente, there’s a scooter rental called Zoom Zoom Mindelo. You’ll find decent prices and great scooters.

The island of São Vicente is very accessible and has generally exceptional roads.

Final/fourth stop: Santiago Island (2 Days)

Next up is Santiago island, a totally underrated gem. Praia , the capital of Cape Verde, is located here and people unfortunately tend to conflate it with the entire island of Santiago.

Praia isn’t the nicest city, but the rest of the island of Santiago provides absolutely magnificent mountain views combined with lovely coves and wonderful beaches.

How to get to Praia, Santiago

To get to Santiago, you’ll have to fly into Praia. Here’s how to get there from São Vicente.

From Mindelo, take a taxi to São Vicente airport (VXE). The ride lasts about 10 minutes and costs 1000CVE ($10).

BestFly generally runs two flights a day from São Vicente to Praia, Santiago.

Security is generally not an issue in São Vicente airport as there are hardly international flights.

Again, make sure to have your Covid-19 documents ready – with QR code.

Renting a car in Santiago: the struggle is real

There are several local agencies as well as a Hertz, though we were unable to get in contact with any of them.

Instead, our hotel arranged for us to rent from someone local for 5000CVE/day – about $50USD.

It is otherwise not terribly hard to get around the island by taxi or ‘alaguer’ – shared shuttles.

The only issue: taxis are expensive and alaguers wait to fill up before leaving, leaving you waiting. However, alaguers tend to be very cheap with fares as low as 300CVE to get all the way across the island.

Must-sees on Santiago island

Santiago has so much to offer, and honestly ended up being one of our favorite islands.

We had plenty of great food, wonderful accommodation at Dunas de Areia Preta, and were welcomed by so many lovely locals. And the sights are absolutely stunning.

Make sure not to miss:

  • Piscina Natural de Cuba, a “natural swimming pool”/amazing oasis
  • Silverbeach, a volcanic beach in Tarrafal
  • Parque Nacional de Serra Malagueta, the most amazing mountain chain on the island

Bonus stop: Fogo Island

Literally translating to “Island of Fire”, Fogo is Cabo Verde’s only active volcanic island.

As the active volcanic island, Fogo provides for some incredible hikes up to the crater.

How to get to Fogo Island

  • Fly on BestFly or take a ferry on CV Interilhas

On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, CV Interhilas runs a fast ferry from Praia, Santiago to Fogo island. It take approximately 3.5 hours and costs 3300CVE (about $34 USD) per person.

There are also flights to/from Fogo on BestFly, the local inter island airline. Watch out – these tend to fill up far in advance.

How to get around Fogo

Although we would rent a car, especially in a time crunch, it is possible to get all around Fogo by taxi or Alaguer.

What to do in Fogo

  • Hiking Fogo National Park to the crater
  • Enjoying a road trip around the island
  • Hanging out with local fisherman and enjoying fresh seafood

The main attractions of course, is to hike the volcano of Fogo!

Many tour companies offer guided tours of the volcano, including equipment rental.

The ring road going around the island also provides epic views on the volcano and surrounding islands, especially around sunset and sunrise.

In summary, the ultimate 7-day itinerary in Cabo Verde includes:

  • Flying to Sal from Europe or Africa
  • Enjoying 2 days of ATVs, beaching, diving, relaxing, sunning, and kitesurfing
  • Navigating from Sal to Santo Antão on the same day
  • Exploring Cabo Verde’s most beautiful island, Santo Antão, for 2 days by hiking and road tripping
  • Taking the local airline down to Praia, Santiago Island
  • Dipping in a natural pool, walking on volcanic sand beaches, taking in the spectacular views of Santiago for 2 days
  • Flying home, via Europe, Sal, or Africa

Theres an enormous amount to do and see in Cabo Verde, and hopefully this allows you to see the most on your 7-day trip.

Thanks for reading! Consider these similar posts:

Our Most Epic Trip Ever: Living With the Mundari Tribe in South Sudan

St. Lucia’s Jade Mountain: The Ultimate Couple’s Retreat

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Travel Off the Path: Cabo Verde

March 7, 2023 by Silvia 2 Comments

When I traveled to the Falkland Islands my flight had a layover in Cabo Verde, and I was intrigued when we landed on one of the small islands off the western coast of Africa. I’m sure you can imagine my frustration at being stuck inside the airport instead of out exploring, but I promised myself that I would someday return.

So when I received an email from Laurel from the Meandering Minimalists asking if she and her husband John could share their experience spending a month in Cabo Verde, I of course said yes! 

Why Cabo Verde?

cape verde

Cabo Verde is a small (tiny, really) island nation off the coast of Senegal in Africa. It was uninhabited until about the fourteenth century, when it was settled by the Portuguese. Because of that, it has an interesting relationship to slavery, to Africa, and to Europe. We spent a month there and loved it!

Here are five reasons why:

The people are extraordinary!

Morabeza, or hospitality, is genuinely a way of life. We felt this even in Lisbon on the plane: everyone chatted with us, and lots of people stood in the aisles to talk to each other during the flight. We’re not wildly outgoing, but we had made several friends by the end of the flight.

Portuguese is the official language; most people speak Creole. You can also get by in English, though French is more widely spoken. That said, we’ve had long conversations in a mix of Spanish/Italian with people responding in Portuguese. Cabo Verdeans are genuinely interested in visitors, and they travel a lot.

cape verde beach

Cabo Verde feels a world away, but this island paradise is not that difficult to get to. What’s more, the weather is gorgeous (temperatures usually stick to 20-25°C, 70-80°F).

Some islands have black sand volcanic beaches. For more active beachgoers, there are windsurfing, kitesurfing, jet skiing, and sailing opportunities, as well as great snorkeling and wreck diving. But the atmosphere is also conducive to sitting around all day, if that’s your thing. The unofficial national motto is “no stress” and they take it very seriously.

The music scene here is fantastic, and very lively. Many countries put on “tourist shows,” but the Cabo Verdeans play for themselves. They don’t mind you listening in, though!

Cesária Évora , the barefoot diva, is by far the most famous Cabo Verdean. There’s a wide variety of music, much of it influenced by the Lusophone world (e.g., fado, samba, etc.), and the native artform is morna, which focuses on love and nostalgia for home. (More than half of the population lives abroad.)

Many restaurants and bars have live music in the evenings, sometimes every night. And Carnaval is not to be missed – thanks to its close connections to Brazil, Cabo Verde boasts the biggest and brightest Carnaval celebration in Africa.

carnaval cape verde

Whether your thing is whales, turtles, rare birds, salt flats, volcanoes, or the desert, Cabo Verde has a little bit of everything. There’s even a botanical garden on the island of Santiago. And if you like your nature best without anyone else around, they’ve got that too.

If you are interested in visiting Africa but are nervous about it, this is a great “starter country.” The government is very stable, and Cabo Verde has high literacy rates. 

How can we get there and when is the best time to go?

cape verde from above

Flights from Europe (mostly Lisbon) are relatively frequent and take only 3 ½ hours. You can fly to one of four international airports on the islands.

Travel between islands, however, is a little more complicated. Ferry services exist, but they are not always reliable, and flights are expensive and fill up quickly. That means it’s important to have a sense of what you are interested in doing before you arrive.In a week or ten days, unless you are very energetic, you probably don’t want to visit more than two or three islands.

It can be uncomfortably hot and rainy August-October. Whale watching season is March-April and turtle nesting season is mostly in August. We’d pick February-March to be able to experience Carnaval and get away from cold weather in most of Europe.

Any particular things we need to experience or places to visit there?

Santiago has just a bit of everything, including the capital city Praia, and Ciudade Velha, the UNESCO world heritage site where the first European settlement in the tropics was (1462), with a fortress overlooking the water.

Mindelo on Sao Vicente is the cultural capital – go here for music and history. Santa Antao, a short ferry-ride away from Mindelo, offers incredible hiking.

For wind- and kitesurfing, Sal is your best bet. 4X4 and off-road aficionados will enjoy Boa Vista. Birders will be happiest on Brava; those who want to watch turtles on Boa Vista.

Fogo has an active volcano, the tallest in the islands, and makes wine. Santa Maria, on the island of Sal, has the most developed tourist infrastructure, with resort hotels, a salt spa and the like. (Many of the other islands are following suit, so get here before everyone else does!)

Maio and Brava are the perfect places to get away from it all, with tiny picturesque villages and ample sand and sun.

How can we get around?

It’s easy and inexpensive to hire taxis to get around individual islands. You could rent a car, but hiring a guide to drive you costs only a bit more, and is much easier.

Where can we stay?

Cabo Verde has a range of accommodations, from all-inclusive resorts (in Santa Maria), to hotels, guest houses, and many  apartments for rent, catering to all budgets. There are hostels in the two biggest towns, Praia and Mindelo.

What special dish do we need to try?

cape verde food

The national dish is cachupa, which is a feijoada-like hominy stew that includes vegetables, beans, and meat and/or fish. Every restaurant, and every home, has its own variation, and we’ve eaten dozens of them. (Our favourite has kale and fresh tuna.) It is also served for breakfast, cooked down into a less liquid form, with a fried egg on top. Yum!

But it’s really the seafood that’s the star in Cabo Verde. Depending on where you’re staying, you can even watch the boats come in with it and sell it at fish markets. There are tuna, grouper, swordfish, shrimp large and small, langostines, octopus, conch, moray eel, and a variety of the barnacles loved by the Portuguese. Best of all, we think, is not to have to choose, but to get a whole plate of mixed seafood, either as kebabs or with rice or spaghetti.

Ponche is the local alcoholic beverage of choice, made from grogue (a cane-based alcohol). Here again, many people make their own, even in restaurants. We’ve had mel (honey), the most prevalent, which tastes like spiced rum with molasses, and also passion fruit, tamarind, coconut, and even chocolate.

Anything in particular we should pack for a trip there?

Cabo Verde is isolated, and most things are imported, so bring what you need: bathing suits, reading materials, good walking shoes, necessary medications, etc. We recommend taking your own insect repellent (during the rainy season, August-October) and sunblock.

Outside of the capital Praia, stores will have a lot fewer items than you are used to seeing. Some of the islands, especially those farther out in the Atlantic (the “windward islands”) can be very windy, so you may want a jacket even when it’s bright and sunny out.

About Laurel and John

Laurel and John are early retirees, homeless and travelling the world, slowly. They blog at Meandering Minimalists about slow and thoughtful travel, food, the practical aspects of uprooting your life, and what they’re seeing and doing. You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram .

Have a special place off the beaten path you’d like to share? From far off countries I can’t pronounce to hidden streets in Paris, I would love to hear about your secret finds. Email me at  [email protected]  with the destination and I’ll send you some questions to answer about it!

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Kamila says

March 12, 2023 at 2:22 pm

Not sure which sources you used, but the info about CV’s GDP being the highest on the (African?) continent is utterly wrong. In fact CV is one of the poorest countries in terms of GDP, both nominal and per capita. It ranked in the category of the least developed countries until 2007.

Silvia says

March 17, 2023 at 12:27 pm

Sorry, I should have fact checked the interview! Maybe some locals told them that? Thanks for letting me know it was wrong.

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Once a full-time nomad, I'm now trying to find a balance between continuing to explore off the beaten path places around the world while also building a home in Norway. Want to know more? Head to my About page !

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In love with Cape Verde 

Cape Verde was a trip we had planned and booked for April 2020, but obviously, it got canceled for force majeure. We were given only a flight credit from Tap (which by the way will never see me again) and patiently waited until we could use it again. 

Finally, this month was the time we could re-book our flights. We had planned everything the first time and then always some covid related shit was coming up and would screw everything, so I was losing hope we would make it. You know, even if the stars are aligning and all is set, at the very last minute you can just test positive and all is gone. BUT we were negative and able to fly! When I stepped foot on African soil I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Planning an itinerary in Cape Verde

The first trip we had planned to Cape Verde would be shorter and include only 2 islands, Sao Vicente and Santo Antao. In our second attempt though we stretched our vacation to 2 weeks and included 2 islands more. Now I wish we could stay even longer!

Planning an itinerary across the several islands of Cape Verde can be challenging. It is an archipelago with 10 gorgeous islands, all diverse and worth visiting, but connections between the islands can be difficult at times. 

Looking at the map you will make all kinds of plans and fantasies about your trip, possibly hopping from one island to the other, only to find out connections between islands happen only twice a week and mainly from Praia, the capital.

So, if you want to see Santiago, São Vicente, Fogo, and Maio, you will find out that ferries to Fogo are only on Fridays (and only from Santiago), ferries to Maio are on Tuesday and Friday, that flights to São Vicente (a bit far away) only on Saturdays again, etc. So you will have to resize your trip and plan it just according to flights/ferries.

Which islands are worth seeing?

Cape Verde is an archipelago with 10 main islands.

As all the 10 islands are all beautiful, it’s worth checking what are the characteristics of each one to decide what suits us better. 

Sal and Boavista

Sal and Boavista are the most famous ones, Sal even has direct flights from Europe and seems like a beach paradise. However, we decided not to go to Sal and Boavista because all we read and heard is they are very touristy and resort-like islands. I am not against relax-only vacations and I don’t judge who decides to go to resorts but the whole vibe did not really seem to match our traveling style. Maybe in the future, when we get old and grumpy.

Fogo and Brava

Fogo and Brava are also very worth visiting but we couldn’t go, because of that mess with the ferry schedules I mentioned before. I guess it’s a reason to go back to Cape Verde soon 🙂

How to move around in Cape Verde

Between islands, you have 2 options: flights and ferry. Again, schedules are quite limited and in some islands (ex. Santo Antão) you can go only by ferry.

For flights the only airline is Bestfly.com .

I was a bit scared of flying with this Angolan airline because:

  • They had just started like a month before we booked
  • I am always afraid African airlines do not have the same safety standard as Europe
  • Their online presence is near to 0, I found out they existed just on a link on a forum that appeared on the 5th page of my search 🙂 

BUT. They were good! As I am writing you can see I am alive and have to say the flight was great, plane felt safe (opinion from my experience of aeronautical engineer) and they were perfectly on time. Also, apparently, our hand luggage limit was 6 kg (we did not even bother checking the rules) and our backpacks were 10 kg each, but they just said “oh it was supposed to be 6 kg” and then checked them in for free.

For ferries , you will have to sell your soul to CV interilhas .

I was a bit scared of those too, mainly because it was in the Atlantic ocean and I knew I would puke forever. Also, they had terrible reviews – people complaining of 10 hours delays kind of reviews.

BUT, It was alright, not as good as the flight but it was doable. The ferry seemed very old, we had 1.5-hour delay on a 2 hours trip and we stopped in front of the port for an hour on a second trip. Also, they tell you to be there 2 hours before departure but they start boarding in the last 5 minutes and this can be frustrating for accelerated and living-in-stress European, but well we are alive. 

To move around in the islands, you have taxis and colectivos . Colectivos are those small vans that just depart when they are full, so you may find yourself waiting for an hour or more (as we did in Praia) for other passengers to come.

Our trip in Cape Verde

We visited 4 islands: Santiago, Maio, São Vicente and Santo Antão.

I am happy with the choice we made, in terms of destinations and time allotted to visit them. So if you want to take inspiration and do the same itinerary, feel free.

Santiago , with Praia as its capital, is the main island, where most of the people live, and has a bit of everything. Everyone said it can be skipped but we spent 2,5 days there and liked it a lot.

Maio is the real beach paradise. We spent the most time there and we loved it. Imagine tons of beaches all for you. When I say only for you I mean it – we were the only ones for kilometers. Add the friendliest people I have EVER met on any of my trips and you will have the perfect place.

São Vicente is the cultural capital of Cabo Verde, full of concerts and events. It also has some beautiful beaches and it was the home of Cesaria Evora.

Santo Antāo is, as they say, the hiker’s paradise, and is among the greenest places I have ever seen. Most landscapes are just surreal!

So here goes the journal.

Day 1 – Santiago

We landed in Praia after a stopover in Lisbon where they had asked for a covid test, a vaccine certificate, a plf for Cabo Verde, a plf for Portugal, a Cape Verdean visa, the marriage certificate of my grandgrandfather, the foot sizes of my friend from school, the blessing of the pope and a slice of my ass.

When we set foot in Cape Verde, just the feeling of the 25 degrees temperature was already worth the 470 euros flights and all the hassle we had to make. 

A taxi to Praia was the background of an important moment of this trip: testing if they would understand me in Portuguese. The taxi driver understood me perfectly, I understood him perfectly, my motivation was boosted as, wind in my hair, I felt like a languages goddess. On the very same morning at Lisbon airport they kept replying to me in English, but then I remembered this is something Portuguese people do to show off their language skills. Anyway, for the rest of the trip communication was smooth with everyone! I even started understanding a couple of words in Kriolu, which is their unofficial local language.

We get to Praia, the capital, which for some reason I was imagining as a chaotic city, but it was quite chilled, at least in the area where we stayed (Plateau). As soon as we arrived I broke my glasses, but we found an optic right away that fixed them for 500 escudos (4.5 euro), very efficient. We walked in the center and this lovely pedestrian area where we had our welcome Katxupa at a nice restaurant. I ate the entire thing thinking it was chickpeas when it was actually corn. Such a sophisticated palate. Next to us, there was this popstar I guess because all the girls passing by wanted to have photos with him, we did not find out who he was but we enjoyed the show.

We walked to do the Ethnographic museum (1.80 euro for foreigners), it was basically a room with stuff that is interesting for the Cape Verdean culture. 

First impression of the people: everyone is very beautiful, women and men, and friendly. Nobody approaches us as tourists (as you see all the time in Spain, Italy) even if we are the only white people around. 

While sipping my first Strela Kriola (beer), I am so happy we are finally here.

Day 2 – Santiago

After going to bed at 6 in the afternoon and waking up at 8 the following morning – we were a bit tired – we go to Sucupira market, a few mins away from our place, to take the colectivo to go to the other part of Santiago island, Tarrafal.

I had read this may take a while, because colectivos only depart when they are full. We are the first to get in, so we wait a little more than an hour to finally depart. During this time, we people watch as everyone is preparing their stands at the market. I notice that women are so strong in Africa that I think the continent would fall apart without them. An average woman in Cape Verde will have:

  • a 30 kg basket on her head
  • A baby on one arm
  • All while with the other hand/arm she would work normally, pay for stuff, build a house, do some boxing, etc.

I say this to Panos while asking if he can open my water bottle “ because it’s tooo tooo strong for me “.

So. We start our journey to Tarrafal, our first colectivo experience, we enjoy it and get to Tarrafal almost 2 hours later.

Tarrafal is great, unfortunately the weather is terrible that day but we still get to enjoy a bit of the amazing beach, coconut water directly from the coconut to prove ourselves that we are finally on holiday, many photos, and first bits of sunburnt. Our driver – it’s the colectivo guy from before, the public bus, do not imagine me in a limousine – comes to pick us up and we slowly get back to Praia. In these hours I get to listen to and appreciate all the Cape Verdean hits, I shazam like crazy and create my “Cabo verdeeee” Spotify list that I am now listening to obsessively.

Little before the sunset, we take another taxi (1.80 euro) to get to Quebracanela beach and get a Strela Kriola and eat Buzio, which will prove itself to be a dear friend in many of our following meals.

Day 3 – Santiago/Maio

During all these holidays we wake up every day at 6, you will think because we wanna enjoy our days at the most, but the truth is that we just never adapt to the timezone and we keep waking up at Spanish time, which comes in handy because we NEVER wake up at 6. We take a colectivo to go to Cidade Velha, around 20-30 minutes away from Praia. The place is beautiful, we are the only tourists (this will be consistent throughout the 2 weeks), we climb up a castle, get back down, and have breakfast with a Tosta Mista and a burnt coffee in the sun.

Our driver (this time is an actual taxi) takes us, brings us to take our luggage in Praia and then all the way to the port, as we have a ferry for Praia.

We get to the port wayyyy too early so we need to wait there forever, but we find a small bar to drink our Kriolas in the shadow while we wait. Where are we going?

This will be our second island, and it’s an island nobody goes to but we decide to visit it because we are cool. We actually end up staying the longest there.

After some delay on the ferry, we get to Maio.

Day 4 – Maio

We start our day in Maio with a rollercoaster of emotions as seems the tickets to come back from Maio are finished, even if we do not see many people there and there were not many people on the ferry when we got there. We take some time to accept the idea of staying forever in Maio. I call the ferry company and they confirm yes the tickets are really over. As I try to imagine myself living the rest of my life there we go to a local agency that says try again now, the system was down “as they were changing the ferry”. Not sure what it meant, but I manage to buy the return tickets for 5 days later. 

We go to Porto Ingles, the beach of the port, with its turquoise waters and we decide to walk further to see the other beach (which does not even have a name, you see how much Maio is frequented) behind the port. As we are trying to go past an abandoned building we meet a girl from Praia that is holidaying there and we decide to go together and maybe check out the salt flats. 

We are walking in this amazing landscape of salt flats when something seems wrong. Our feet start getting down in the salt/sand/whatever and we are falling down in what seems to be coal tar. We try to get out of the “quicksand” but it’s hard! Panos loses his shoe, we are all covered in this coal tar, running out as we think the earth will swallow us (ok maybe this was a bit dramatical). We manage to get out of this and walk forever to get to the sea (apparently we were going in the opposite direction) where we wash ourselves and our stuff. We say goodbye to our friend, that probably at this time is wearied to death of our white shit.

Day 5 – Maio

Maio is amazing and also our hotel with infinity pool (probably the only infinity pool we’ll see in our life). We start our day by going to this other beach, Ponta Preta, where we spend half a day there completely alone. We do not really swim in the sea there because it’s open ocean, tides are strong and especially because we are alone, so if something happens we’d just die there. If you ask around, they will tell you which beaches are dangerous and which ones are safe to swim, but the only beach where we really swam was Porto Ingles because the waves are ok, it’s near the port so there is some small boat and you have the feeling that if you are in trouble you can get help because there are people around. Maybe I was being extremely cautious or maybe I’m just getting old, who knows.

Day 6 – Maio

This is our best day in Maio.

After proudly rejecting the offer because we were looking for a locally owned place where to rent a quad or a moto, we regretfully go back on our own to this Italian sleazy guy who was expensively renting out quads, as it’s the only place in the island. He gives us a map that is much appreciated since an interesting thing about Maio is that nothing of it shows up on google maps: beach names, restaurants, all is either wrong or not updated or just not existing.

We start off in Vila do Maio and our first stop is Morro, a sleepy village where a grandpa keeps asking why are we there and if we need something. We appreciate the colorful houses and the chilled vibes, that will continue in our second stop (and in the rest of our trip), Calheta. We are fascinated by the mountains of shells and the bunch of small pigs running around, we take some photos and everyone smiles at us.

We pass by Morrinho (same as above) to continue to the dunes, which I absolutely love. We see probably 1 car in the entire day, it’s all the time just the 2 of us, except when we go to the villages and they all come to greet us just to make sure we are fine. We have a little Strela Kriola stop at a bar in Cascabulho, where we see the only car of this day, driven by Italians dressed like Indiana Jones that speak Italian to the bar owner because why not. We then continue to Praia Gonçalo, Santo Antonio, Pedro Vaz, and the beaches around that area, like Praiona, which we struggle to find but it’s lovely.

On the way back we go to Ribeira don João, an awe-inspiring beach where we finally stop for 1-2 hours in the shadow because Panos starts complaining that we got sunburnt (he was actually right but I will never admit it). We made the best choice as the landscape is stunning.

Our final stop is the village of Barreiro, where again everybody comes to greet us and is just happy we are there. I wish Europeans would be like this.

Day 7 – still Maio

We keep enjoying Vila do Maio and its vibes and lovely people. Chacha chicken becomes our favorite place and Chacha, this lovely grandma becomes our grandma. She makes us promise that wherever we will go we will talk about her chicken to people.

On Cape Verdean food, especially Maio: expect to eat fresh fish or some chicken, with carrot, sweet potatoes, and rice as a side dish. That is all. There is absolutely no other food. We still loved it and will miss Chacha dearly.

Day 8 – Leaving Maio

This is our last day in Maio. Panos obliges me to stay under the sun umbrella because at this point I am totally black, we get our caipirinhas at Porto Ingles beach where I also get to swim a bit.

Life is great, but we have to leave. A ferry takes us in the evening back to Praia, where we sleep a few hours and take an early flight the next day to São Vicente.

Day 9 – São Vicente/Santo Antão

I was expecting São Vicente to be an ugly place for some reason, but I can see already from the plane window that Mindelo, its capital, is as colorful and gorgeous as the other islands. We spend a few hours there where I have to admit that the vibes are not the same as Maio, probably because there are “some” tourists (compared to the 0 tourists of the other islands) we see some beggers and generally fewer smiles. We go to the market, I get my hiking shoes repaired in 5 mins (thanks shoemaker, otherwise I would need to hike in flipflops) and we leave our bags at Casa Cafe Mindelo – for free, thanks Casa Mindelo – until we go take another ferry to Santo Antão.

After going way too early to take this ferry as well (I have been doing this for the entire trip but do not seem to learn the lesson) we meet Maika, a cavaquinho player, who wants to celebrate the new pacemaker he got in Portugal and makes us promise that we go to Ponta do Sol to play some music with him. It’s useless saying that I cannot play music, as he says we can still sing and dance. The funny story is that we actually try to find him later in Ponta do Sol but in vain.

We arrive in Santo Antão and we jump into a colectivo, we are so tired that we sleep for the entire time, when I wake up an hour later I see the landscapes I have many times seen in the photos and I’m astonished.

Our hostel in Vila das Pombas is quite cute but run by an Italian (again). We go for a walk and appreciate the village life and the huge cliffs. In our room, we have this big window overlooking the sea and we get to sleep to the sound of the waves.

Day 10 – Santo Antão

On one side we get to sleep with the sound of the waves, on the other side we get woken up every damn day by this bloody rooster right next to us that starts singing at fucking 3 am and stops only after 7. After a few hours, I seriously consider going outside to find the damn asshole and strangle it. When I see it in the street during the day, I threaten him that I will eat it with potatoes and rice but the motherfucker does not seem intimidated at all.

So. We wake up – forcedly – and take a taxi (Helder, I have his number if you need it) to go to Vale de Paul, one of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever seen. It takes an hour, and we stay on the outside of the car to appreciate the beauty of the surroundings. Once there, we start an amazing hike that will bring us back to our place in Vila das Pombas.

The hike is ALL downhill, but after 6 hours of steep downhill and your legs suffering, you wish you would have some uphills too. We stop a thousand times to take photos and one time to have a little lunch in a village. The whole valley is surreal. We get home happy and tired.

Day 11 – Santo Antão

For the following day, we had originally planned another hike: from Ponta do Sol until Cruzinha . We are feeling still tired so we think we will do just a part of it (the first hour, from Ponta do sol until Fontainhas). We take 2 colectivos to go to Ponta do Sol and from there we go walking to Fontainhas. Landscapes are as good as the day before.

When we get to Fontaihas we have our usual Strela Kriola in the local bar and the usual grandpa comes and talks to us. He asks where are we from and when I say Panos is Greek he makes the usual face of people that do not know where Greece is (we see this a lot) and then… starts speaking in Greek. A perfect Greek. For like an hour. While I start laughing immediately, Panos is in shock for the first minute. We have a lovely chat with Ignacio (this is his name) he is so happy he gets to speak Greek after…20 years. He tells us a thousand stories of when he was working in Greece. By this time, it’s like 2 o clock and it is quite clear that we won’t continue the hiking further but then, maybe the beer helps, with a glance at each other, we realize we actually wanna do the hike until Cruzinha.

On the internet we had read that from where we were until Cruzinha it would take 5-6 hours, we ask locals and they say 4.5 to 5 hours… it’s like 14.30 and the sun goes down completely at 19, so we are really on the edge. We decide to go anyway. Do you know how long did we take to do the entire hike?

3.2 hours! Apparently, we are not as slow as I think. At some point, I think we were kinda running and the day after we could barely move, but the hike was absolutely fantastic. It was a mix of uphill, downhill, flat on the coastline with rugged cliffs and a magnificent ocean. 

We got to Cruzinha and called our friend Helder who came to pick us up again (no colectivos in Cruzinha) and we went back to our hostel happy and paralyzed.

Day 12 – Santo Antão

It is true what they say, Santo Antão is a hiker paradise. It is a big island, with a lot of pretty villages, mountainous, mostly unexplored, and home to a lot of hiking trails. If you look for information they say you need a week there but actually, the amazing hikes you wanna do are just 2, the ones we did. Of course, if you wanna explore more there is a lot of other stuff but if you want to try the best hiking experiences in Santo Antão, what we did is more than enough.

On our last day, hiking is not even an option, since we have trouble going down the stairs and pain all over our bodies. We soon become the fun of other people in the hostel because we cannot really move and are seemingly funny to watch. Regardless, we decide to go see a bit of Ponta do Sol and Ribeira Grande. They are both very cute and easily connected with colectivos. We look for Maica, the guy with the cavaquinho, we ask around a bit and they do know him but probably his shop is closed as we don’t see him.

On our last evening, we have dinner at Casa Maracuja , a nice restaurant that has fresh juices and other things other than our beloved peixe and frango (fish and chicken). 

Day 13 – São Vicente

We have an early ferry back to São Vicente, and while packing I realize I forgot my bag in the restaurant we had dinner yesterday (luckily my passport and phone were not in it). It’s 7 in the morning, the restaurant is not open, but the colectivo we take (remember that the colectivo is a public bus, not a taxi) agrees to bring me to this restaurant to see if anyone is there. No luck, the restaurant is closed, so we go to the port that is 1 hour away.

As we are boarding the ferry, I call the restaurant and they confirm they just found my bag. There is virtually no way to recover the bag unless I decide to stay longer in Santo Antão, but I am literally on the ferry to the other island so I decide to leave it.

Now – you won’t believe it because this is something that would NEVER happen in Europe, but I got my bag, on the other island, on the same day. For free.

The restaurant gave the bag to my hostel, which stopped a colectivo that was going to the port. The driver of this colectivo took my bag, went to the port, and asked someone that was boarding the next ferry (Arian, praised be) to bring this bag to me in São Vicente. All these people did not even have my number, all the restaurant asked me was a photo of me to show to the person that would look for me in the port.

I will be forever in love with the Cape Verdean people.

So. This is our last day in Sao Vicente before we fly out to Lisbon the next morning, and I try to make the most of it. We go to Praia da Laginha with its turquoise water, we eat an evergreen Buzio on the beach, we buy some souvenirs and we get overbooked by the hotel we booked, so they relocate us to a boutique hotel that is 3 times the price of our reservation (for free). I love overbookings.

We do not want to leave the country without listening to some live music, so we go to a club next to our place with live concerts and I absolutely love it. I was already an enthusiast of Funana, Morna, and all the Cape Verdean music way before going but now even more. It was the best farewell to the country, which will surely see me again very very soon.

VoboniaintheWorld

April 5, 2022

October 25, 2023 at 4:50 pm

Sounds like a great trip. Your story provides a lot of color as I plan to visit in January 2024.

  • My favourite city: Lisbon

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Cape Verde: 1 week itinerary for Boa Vista & Sal

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One week Cape Verde itinerary

(Updated, April 2023). Are you considering the archipelago of Cape Verde for your next island escape? If your answer is yes you’ve come to the right place. We spent  one week in Cape Verde on the islands of Sal and Boa Vista in collaboration with TUI Austria and in this post we’ll show you our itinerary, best of and tips for a visit!

One week Cape Verde itinerary

All shades of blue & turquoise: The first good reasons for a visit of Cape Verde!

Table of Contents

One week in Cape Verde: Our itinerary

We decided to split our time between the two islands of Boa Vista and Sal almost equally. In hindsight we wouldn’t do it differently as both islands have different things to offer , although the landscapes are quite similar.

Update April 2023: Unfortunately the direct flight connection between Boa Vista and Sal with TAP Airlines seems to be suspended for now. This makes combining the two islands a bit more difficult now as you’ll have to find a boat or ferry transfer (see more below).

Boa Vista and Sal are both dry, sandy and mostly flat islands , that were formed through volcanic activity. If you’re looking for days at the (perfect) beaches and vast emptiness you’ve come to the right place. In case you want mountains, hiking options and more lush & green landscapes – jump to the end of this article where we’ll recommend you some of the other islands of the archipelago!

One week Cape Verde itinerary

Most visitors come to Cape Verde for beach holidays and water sports activities!

Without further ado, here’s our one week itinerary for cape verde:.

  • Day 1: Boa Vista Check-In & Quad excursion
  • Day 2: Boa Vista island adventure in a rented 4×4
  • Day 3: Boa Vista sailing trip, snorkelling & visit of Sal Rei city
  • Day 4: Flight to Sal ( suspended in 2023, instead go by boat ), Check-in & visit of Santa Maria fishing village & pier
  • Day 5:  Salinas de Pedra de Lume, Shark Bay & sailing trip
  • Day 6:  Kite surfers at Ponta Preta, Buracona Blue Hole & Turtle Aid Project
  • Day 7: Check-Out & Fly home

One week Cape Verde itinerary

After one week on the islands of Boa Vista & Sal we think the beach is only one good reason for a visit!

Boa vista: from deserts to endless beaches.

We spent the first 3 days on the island of Boa Vista, the easternmost island of Cape Verde. From all the 9 inhabited islands of Cape Verde Boa Vista is the least and most sparsely inhabited with only 1% of the population living here. But since Boa Vista is also the third largest island of the archipelago there’s a lot of space – vast emptiness and not many “sights” in a traditional sense. Therefore the island is perfect if you’re looking for a beach getaway (the island has 55km of white sand beaches!) with some adventures along the way (like riding quad bikes, 4×4 tours of the island and boat trips to empty bays).

Day 1 on Boa Vista: Quad tour to Estoril beach, the shipwreck and Viana desert

After checking into our hotel we went on our first excursion with quad bikes straight away. We decided to do a guided tour, but booked a private quad trip , so it was just us and our guide. Therefore we could change the planned route according to our wishes and also stay longer to take photos wherever we felt like it 😉

Quad tour on Boa Vista as part of one week itinerary Cape Verde

Our first day on Boa Vista started off with a quad tour of the island!

The route brought us to the famous Estoril beach first, which is where most guests go at the end of the roundtrip to watch the sun set in the ocean. Then we went on driving along sand dunes and rugged terrain to arrive at the shipwreck of the M/S Cabo Santa Maria . The freight ship stranded here in the 1960s and has become an attraction for visitors (as stated above, there isn’t a lot to “see” otherwise ;)). Our final stop of the 3 hour quad tour brought us to the Viana desert – or  Deserto de Viana .

Estoril beach Boa Vista Cape Verde

From Estoril beach to the shipwreck of the M/S Cabo Santa Maria and finally the Deserto de Viana.

We had hoped for a sunset in the desert that evening, but unfortunately the sun hid behind the clouds a bit. But since we did the whole quad tour counterclockwise we at least had the desert all to ourselves, which was a real treat! The Viana desert was formed by Sahara sand that was blown across the Atlantic Ocean by the steady wind. It’s not a huge desert, but still quite impressive.

Deserto de Viana Boa Vista Cape Verde

The desert was impressive, even if we didn’t get lucky with a sunset!

Our tip: Definitely do the quad tour with a guide, otherwise you might get lost along the way and not find the right spots. Especially in the desert you really need to know where your quads can go and where it gets too tricky to drive!

Quad guide in the Viana desert on Boa Vista Cape Verde

Our guide showed us where it was safe to drive in the desert!

Day 2 on boa vista: exploration with our rental car to rocha estância & praia de santa mónica.

Wherever we go we always try to be independent and able to discover the destination on our own. Therefore we also opted for a rental car on Boa Vista . The roads on Boa Vista are mostly gravel and sand, hence a 4×4 car is necessary if you want to go on explorations on your own!

Rental car in Boa Vista Cape Verde

This Suzuki Jimny was good choice for the gravel roads of Boa Vista.

It had rained a bit that morning, therefore the roads became a bit more challenging, but we still made our way to the  Rocha Estância mountain in the South of the island. If you’re up for a hike this is the one place that is recommended on Boa Vista (the mountain is around 350 meters high).

Rocha Estância mountain Boa Vista Cape Verde

The Rocha Estância mountain is the only relevant elevation on Boa Vista.

From there on it makes sense to also drive further to the South and visit the famous Praia de Santa Mónica – a long stretch of untouched beach! There are no signs or good access roads, so you’ll have to find your way by following the paths in the sand.

Praia Santa Monica Boa Vista Cape Verde

This stretch of beach called “Santa Monica” is still basically untouched…

Our tip: Ask the rental car company beforehand which roads and parts of the island you can access and where you shouldn’t drive. The Eastern part of Boa Vista is mostly off limits from what we’ve gathered as there are no real streets there! If you prefer to be on the safe side you can also book tours with guides instead of driving yourself.

Rental car in Boa Vista Cape Verde

Traffic isn’t an issue here 😉 But the roads are still quite rugged on Boa Vista.

Day 3 on boa vista: sailing, snorkelling & a visit of sal rei city.

On our third day we opted to finally check out the crystal clear water around Boa Vista . On the wooden Italian sailing boat “Salina”, that was built in 1881, we went on to discover a bit of the Atlantic Ocean and also find good spots to snorkel.

Boat tour on the sailing boat Salina around Boa Vista Cape Verde

The water around Boa Vista is pretty incredible!

The constant wind and swell on Cape Verde makes for perfect conditions for surfers of all kind, but if you want to go snorkelling you’ll have to find a calm bay. The day we chose for our sailing trip was especially rugged, therefore the calmest bay still turned out to be a challenge for inexperienced swimmers. I personally am like a fish in the water, so I had no problems, but a few of the other guests went back to the boat after a few minutes 😉

Our tip: If you’re not a good swimmer try to choose a very calm day for a snorkelling trip. We also recommend to bring a long sleeve UV shirt, as you’ll spend a long time in the sun!

Snorkeling on Boa Vista

Snorkelling can be a bit of a challenge – depending on the currents! Make sure to check the weather ahead.

After drying off on the boat a bit we went on to our last stop – the small islet called “ Ilhéu de Sal Rei “. This uninhabited small island off shore of Boa Vista is where the Portuguese built a fort called “ Forte Duque de Bragança ” to protect the island from pirates back in the days when salt used to be called “white gold”. This commodity needed to be protected in the 18th century, when it was one of the main products and sources of income of the island. Today the fort is only a ruin, but interesting testament to the colonial history of Cape Verde.

Boat tour on the sailing boat Salina around Boa Vista Cape Verde

Setting sail to reach the old Portuguese fort at Ilhéu de Sal Rei.

The boating excursion lasted for a half day, therefore we still had time to discover a bit of the island on our own in the afternoon. We decided to visit the island capital Sal Rei . Wandering around the cobble stone streets of the 2.000 inhabitant town you can get a sense for the history of the island. “Sal Rei” can be translated as “King Salt” and that’s what founded the wealth of the island. You can sense this prosperity in the pastel coloured buildings, although not all of them are still standing in their former glory.

Sal Rei city on Boa Vista Cape Verde

The town of “Sal Rei” is sleepy, but cute!

Our tip: If you visit Sal Rei make sure to pass by at the store “ Puru Spiritu Kabuverdianu “, where you can marvel at the original interior and buy souvenirs like the locally brewed “Grogue” and of course “Flor de Sal”, which is still mined in small amounts on Cape Verde.

Puru Spiritu Kabuverdianu in Boa Vista Cape Verde

Buy Grogue, salt and pink pepper at the local store “Puru Spiritu Kabuverdianu” in Sal Rei!

Sal: from kite surfers to salt mines.

After 3 days on Boa Vista it was time for us to hop over to Sal. And when I say hop over I’m not exaggerating, as that flight only takes 10 minutes 😉 Literally the shortest flight we’ve ever been on.

Update 2023: Unfortunately this direct connection with TAP has been suspended . If you Google you’ll find direct flights operated by Edelweiss Air, but they are also not operational at the moment of this update (April 2023). The only option is now a boat transfer, which sets you back around 3 hours according to online sources (we didn’t test this ourselves).

The landscapes of Sal might be quite similar to Boa Vista, but there’s a couple of things, that are unique on Sal. First and foremost  the salines with their pink lakes at Pedra de Lume, but there’s also a bay with baby sharks, a sea turtle hatchery and the famous blue hole – and of course the fishing village of Santa Maria!

Day 4 on Sal: Santa Maria Fishing village & Pier

We decided that the first impression of Sal should bring us to one of it’s most famous “attractions”. The fishing village of Santa Maria has a pier, that is like the center of the island life. This is where locals gather during the day to trade fish and in the late afternoon hours to relax after work.

Santa Maria Pier on Sal Cape Verde

In the fishing village of Santa Maria the pier is the local hot spot!

We spent a while here as it was a lot of fun to dive into all the action that’s happening here – from kids on bodyboards to teens jumping into the ocean from the pier. There’s never a dull moment at that pier it seems! No wonder the locals say you haven’t been on Sal if you didn’t check out Santa Maria pier .

Santa Maria Pier on Sal Cape Verde

If you dare you can also jump from the pier! But nobody does it with as much style as the local kids 😉

Day 5 on sal: salinas de pedra de lume, shark bay & another sailing trip.

Since we were a bit lazy on day 4 we opted for a thorough island excursion the next day. The same goes for Sal as for Boa Vista – you’ll need a proper 4×4 to explore the island. Our first stop brought us to the Northeast of the island and the so called “ Salinas de Pedra de Lume “, a natural saline in a volcanic crater.

Salinas de Pedra de Lume on Sal Cape Verde

The pink color of the salt lakes varies in color – depending on the sunlight and salinity.

We arrived there at 9am and our early bird luck granted us to be all by ourselves in the crater. Here you can not only walk around and marvel at the pink water , but also bathe in one of the basins. The salinity is as high as in the Dead Sea, so you can float equally elegantly on it’s surface! When we finished our wellness ritual our skin felt amazing and when we left at around 10:30am the first groups started to arrive.

Bathing in Salinas de Pedra de Lume on Sal Cape Verde

If you want to see the pink colours well you can climb the edge of the crater!

Our tip: Visit the Salinas de Pedra de Lume in the morning ahead of the crowds! Bring your own towels and don’t shave for at least 2 days before you go bathing there (you’ll thank us later for that tip 😉 ). If you want to shower after the salt bath you have the option to use the facilities (they charge 1 Euro for every minute of showering).

Salinas de Pedra de Lume on Sal Cape Verde

The entrance fee at “Salinas de Pedra de Lume” is 5 Euros. You have to pay extra to use the shower facilities. Well worth it if you ask us!

Not too far away from the Salinas you’ll find the famous “Shark Bay” . To drive there you have to follow the tracks along the coast. There’s not really a street, but with a 4×4 you’ll be fine, even if it’s a sandy path. Once you’ll arrive at the bay a few locals will welcome you there and offer their services. We “hired” one of the guys to show us the baby sharks, that use this bay as training grounds before heading out into the open ocean. This way we learned a bit about the lemon sharks and their behaviour, while wading through the water.

Our tip: Bring bathing shoes, so you can go into the water without hurting your feet as the ground is rocky here. Don’t touch the sharks and respect their territory! And most importantly: Don’t eat shark or buy shark souvenirs while on Cape Verde (you’ll see those on offer everywhere, even in the most official souvenir shops, but it’s still illegal as sharks are endangered!).

Shark Bay on Sal Cape Verde

We saw a few baby sharks in the famous Shark Bay, but only caught them on film (so check the video 😉 ).

In the afternoon we then decided to go on another sailing trip. There’s just no better way to discover an island and get to spots you wouldn’t be able to visit from land! This time we opted for a private sailing excursion – so we had the boat all to ourselves, which was a really nice and relaxed way to spend an afternoon!

Sailing trip around Sal Cape Verde

Sailing around the islands is one of our favourite recommended activities!

Day 6 on sal: kite surfers at ponta preta, buracona blue hole.

Our last full day on Cape Verde was dedicated to another island excursion with our beloved 4×4 car! 🙂 We stopped by the beach at Ponta Preta which is famous for it’s steady wind and therefore a favourite among kitesurfers. Although we’ve never tried kitesurfing ourselves we watched a few professionals and also two beginners taking a lesson and it looked quite cool! I don’t think the conditions could be any better than there.

Kite Surfer at Ponta Preta on Sal Cape Verde

Kite surfers love Cape Verde for it’s constant breeze and warm water temperatures.

But even if you’re not up for kitesurfing this beach has a lot to offer. You can ride horses along the shore or simply walk for miles on the empty stretch of sand, that looks like straight out of a commercial!

Kite Surfer at Ponta Preta on Sal Cape Verde

Even if you’re not up for Kite surfing you can enjoy the endless stretches of beach on Sal!

For a change of scenery we then drove all the way to the Northwest and it’s rocky shores. Here you’ll find many natural caves and among them is the so called “ Buracona Blue Hole “. This cave is formed in a way that when the natural sunlight hits the water it starts shimmering in all shades of blue. Now a word of warning: They are shamelessly using this phenomena to make money. So you’ll have to pay an entrance fee, stand in line for a while to then get a 30 second peak into the cave before your time is over.

Buracona Blue Hole on Sal Cape Verde

The Buracona Blue Hole is quite famous and equally well visited!

We honestly didn’t feel too impressed by this, but then followed a local guide who showed us a hidden cave where we were able to climb in and swim (which is both only possible during low tide). This reminded me a lot of the Cenotes in Mexico and was one of the most refreshing and renewing dips in water I had during our visit!

Our tip: Time your visit to come during the mid day hours (this is the only way you’ll see the blue hole in the right light) and during low tide. After the blue hole there’s a wooden runway leading towards the water and what seems like a dead end. Here you can climb down (after consulting with the guides if the conditions are safe!) and bathe in the cave.

Buracona Blue Hole on Sal Cape Verde

We enjoyed the cave much more than the blue hole itself 😉

Project biodiversity: the turtle aid project.

In the afternoon we visited the sea turtle hatchery of the local organisation “ Project Biodiversity “. Supported by the TUI Care Foundation  they are saving sea turtle nests from being raided by stray dogs and potential other risks (like light pollution, which can be disorienting for nesting turtles).

Project Biodiversity Sea Turtle hatchery on Sal Cape Verde

The sea turtle hatchery of Project Biodiversity is a perfect place to learn about the endangered species!

The local project has already saved over 70.000 baby turtles in 2017 alone and are continuing their work every year when the hatching season starts. Unfortunately only 1 in 1.000 sea turtles survives in the wild – so of those 70.000 only about 70 will return to Cape Verde one day to hatch themselves. Due to climate change and habitat destruction the number of sea turtles and especially the loggerhead turtles in Cape Verde are threatened towards extinction.

Project Biodiversity Sea Turtle hatchery on Sal Cape Verde

Each number represents a rescued nest, with each a couple of dozen eggs ready to hatch!

As a visitor of Cape Verde one can support the project by visiting the hatchery and adopting either a baby turtle or a complete nest. We decided to adopt a nest of 82 eggs, but unfortunately we never got the promised e-mail updated about how many turtles made it. So the only good feeling remaining is that we did the best to support their work. Once the baby turtles have hatched the volunteers of Project Biodiversity bring them to their original nesting ground and release them to the ocean – in the hopes that at least 1% survive and return to keep the population steady on Cape Verde!

Project Biodiversity Sea Turtle hatchery on Sal Cape Verde

We adopted a nest and are now waiting for the baby turtles to hatch!

Practical tips for a visit of cape verde, how to get there.

We visited Cape Verde in early September which is the low season. Therefore we didn’t have the chance to use one of the direct flights operated by TUI , which start in October and fly throughout the winter season here from several airports in Austria.

That’s why we had a stopover in Lisbon, which made our travel time a bit longer. With direct flights it’s only a 5 hour flight time to get to either Sal or Boa Vista from any Austrian airport. And the best thing is that you’ll be in Caribbean style climate, but without the jet lag ! The time difference between Cape Verde and CEST is only 2 hours.

Cape Verde

TUI operates direct flights to Cape Verde from several European airports!

Best time to go.

Cape Verde has 350 days of sunshine every year – and therefore are called the islands of endless summer. The islands can be visited the whole year as the temperatures are steadily warm (between 20-30 degrees Celsius). The ocean also never gets colder than around 23 degrees Celsius.

That being said there is a so called “rainy season” in the Northern hemisphere’s summer months (August, September). During our week long stay in September we did have a day of rain (and the locals couldn’t have been happier about it). In fact it hadn’t rained the whole rainy season until that day!

Taking all that into consideration the Northern hemisphere’s winter is the best time to travel to Cape Verde – starting with October all throughout May. That’s the dry season and most of the direct flights from all over Europe (UK, Germany, Austria) operate in that period.

Best time to visit Cape Verde

The weather in September was mostly sunny, we only had one day of rain and a few clouds!

Which island to choose.

Cape Verde has around 15 islands, of which 9 are inhabited. Thereof Sal and Boa Vista offer the most developed touristic infrastructure , with airports, roads, hotels, tour companies, etc.

When it comes to the landscapes the islands couldn’t be more diverse. While Sal and Boa Vista are both very dry and rather flat, offer long stretches of sandy beaches and turquoise water, islands like Santo Antão are mountainous and quite lush and green . We unfortunately only got to see Sal and Boa Vista, but would love to visit some of the other islands as well the next time!

Therefore it really depends on what you’re looking for! If you opt for a beach vacation with some adventures to be had then Sal and Boa Vista are your best choice. If you’d rather go hiking, explore mountains and volcanoes then you should opt for Santo Antão and/or Fogo. Maio is also developing as a new off-the-beaten-path island getaway for the eco-conscious traveler.

The choice is yours! It might only be limited by the infrastructure, especially the flights connecting the islands and the ferry schedule has to be taken into account. International flights will almost exclusively land on Sal and Boa Vista. Our recommendation would be to combine one of the more developed islands and then jump over to one of the more remote islands for a change 🙂

Deserto de Viana Boa Vista Cape Verde

If you like deserts, sandy beaches and crystal-clear water, than Sal & Boa Vista are the right islands for you!

Interested in a trip to cape verde, but not right now pin this post for later:.

Cape Verde Travel Guide for one week on Sal and Boa Vista

Book your Cape Verde trip with TUI here!

Disclaimer: We were invited to Cape Verde by TUI Austria, but our views stay independent from that invitation.

Boa Vista Cabo Verde Cape Verde Sal

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Georgia Stephens

written by Georgia Stephens

updated 12.02.2019

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Eternally sun-soaked and sculpted by the elements, Cape Verde – almost 600km off the west coast of Africa – is far more than just a destination for reliable winter warmth. Its islands (Santo Antão, São Vicente, Santa Luzia, São Nicolau, Sal, Boa Vista, Maio, Santiago, Fogo and Brava) seem to go from one environmental extreme to another, offering visitors everything from undulating sand dunes to forest-swathed mountains and everything in between – even an active volcano. Here’s everything you need to know about exploring this utterly unique African archipelago.

Our guide to Cape Verde

(Continued below...)

Let’s start with the basics, as it’s safe to say that many would struggle to point to Cape Verde on a map. If you find yourself floundering, look for the Canary Islands and let your gaze drift southwest for 1,000km, or simply strike out into the Atlantic from Senegal and keep going west until you make landfall. It’s an isolated island chain, that’s for sure.

A brief history of the islands

Any visitor to the islands needs to know a little about Cape Verde’s fascinating – albeit tragic – history. For a long time, the islands were completely uninhabited, save perhaps for the turtles that arrive seasonally to nest. But in 1456, Cape Verde was discovered by Portuguese sailors who, realising its strategic position, quickly settled and built it into an outpost for the slave trade.

Over the years, the descendants of slavers and slaves developed a unique Creole culture on Cape Verde, not quite African, not quite European. The people who live here are still around seventy percent mixed race, speak a mixture of Portuguese and Creole, and use the Euro alongside the Cape Verdean Escudo.

capo-verde-beach-shutterstock_317387480

Tarrafal beach on Santiago island in Cape Verde © Samuel Borges Photography/Shutterstock

Which islands should I visit?

Sal and boa vista.

A couple of islands over, Santiago is the largest in the archipelago and home to over half of Cape Verde’s population. It was the first island to be settled by the Portuguese and is considered the most African in culture. Don’t miss the lively market in the capital city of Praia, where you can buy all kinds of fish, spices and fresh produce.

Fogo , meanwhile, is instantly recognisable thanks to the simmering volcano at its heart, which last erupted in 2014. The local population, many of which are descended from the same promiscuous French nobleman, still live amid its lava flows and cinder cones, perched on steep slopes overlooking black sand beaches.

São Vicente

To the north, São Vicente is the islands’ cultural capital and home to Mindelo, Cape Verde’s prettiest and most sophisticated city. Over the years it’s been frequented by poets, free-thinkers and artistic types, including famous Cape Verdean singer Cesária Évora. The island is known for its vibrant nightlife, and every August it hosts the Baia das Gatas Festival, a three-day extravaganza of local music.

Santo Antão

Finally, Santo Antão is the remotest island in this remote island chain. It is the polar opposite of Sal and Boa Vista, characterised by towering peaks, terraced fields and thick forests full of banana palms and papaya trees. If you were wondering how Cabo Verde (literally “Cape Green”) earned its name, you’ll probably find some clues here.

boa-vista-cape-verde-shutterstock_1130514923

Santo Antao, Cape Verde © Plrang Art/Shutterstock

What things shouldn’t I miss?

First off, the island of Sal takes its name from its historic salt production, and you can see how it was produced at Pedra de Lume on the island. Here, you’ll find a sea of shimmering salt lakes in the crater of an extinct volcano, alongside the crumbling machinery once used for salt extraction. Take a dip in the medicinal waters and, thanks to the salt, you’ll float like a cork.

You can pair this visit with a trip to Shark Bay , which is also on Sal. You can wade out into the ocean to join a school of lemon sharks, which cruise up and down this area hunting for fish. While the sharks aren’t a threat to people, it’s still exhilarating watching their fins slicing through the waves. Make sure you hire a pair of water shoes on the beach, as the rocks here can be sharp.

On Fogo, it’s possible to climb Pico do Fogo , Cape Verde’s only active volcano and highest peak (2829m). It's a three to six hour walk, depending on your fitness. The paths can shift with the movement of the knee-deep ash, so it’s worth hiring a guide to take you up to the crater. Some of the guides experienced the 2014 eruption first hand, and their tales make for fascinating, albeit unsettling, listening.

Over on Santiago, the highlight is the UNESCO-listed city of Cidade Velha (once known as Ribeira Grande), built by the Portuguese in 1462 as the first European settlement in the tropics. It was at one point Cape Verde’s capital, and you can still see the remains of its fortress, churches and town square, where disobedient slaves were punished. It only flourished until 1770, when sustained pirate attacks led the Portuguese to name nearby Praia Cape Verde’s capital instead.

cidade-velha-cape-verde-shutterstock_1299432958

Cidade Velha old fort on Santiago Island, Cape Verde © Samuel Borges Photography/Shutterstock

What about the food?

Unsurprisingly, Cape Verde is best known for its fresh seafood, which can go from ocean to plate in a matter of hours. You’ll find dorado, wahoo, snapper, scorpionfish and tuna alongside a multitude of other delicacies on menus across the islands, often served under the ubiquitous ‘fish of the day’ label with a side of chips or rice.

Alternatively, try the Cape Verdean speciality cachupa , a hearty stew simmered for hours with beans, herbs, cassava and sometimes meat. As it takes a long time to prepare, it’s usually only available for one or two days each week, so grab it when you see it. If you’re feeling brave, wash it down with a glass of grogue , a strong traditional tipple hailing from the maritime days made by a small, family-run distillery on Santo Antão.

cachupa-food-capo-verde-shutterstock_1038687607

Cachupa, a classic slow-cooked Cape Verdean dish © AS Food studio/Shutterstock

Anything else I need to know before I go?

Cape Verde is a year-round destination, with temperatures rarely dipping below 20°C, though it’s best to avoid the rainy season between July and October.

There are international airports on Sal, Santiago, Boa Vista and São Vicente. You can get around the islands cheaply by taking one of the ferries, but they are typically slow and unreliable, and the crossings can be rough. Instead, you can fly between most of the islands with Binter Cabo Verde .

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Guide to BRAVA, Cape Verde ‘s blooming little island

Posted on 2022-06-07 2022-10-29 Author Renata Green 47 Comments

They say that Brava is the most beautiful of the Cape Verde islands.

View of the ocean from the island of Brava, Cape Verde

Actually, it’s a cute, small jewel in the middle of the ocean encircled by tiny islets. You can hike around the island in just a couple of hours. There are colorfully painted buildings, surrounded by pretty flowers…and pure serenity. 

From Island to Island

Travelling between the islands is not always that easy. It strongly depends on which route you choose. Brava, the smallest and southernmost of the inhabited islands, does not even have an airport.

Port of Brava

It’s a bit tricky to plan your Brava visit ahead because the ferry doesn’t go when the sea is too rough. So if you’re coming from Santiago, the best way is to plan a stay in Fogo and possibly go to Brava on short notice. Since there is not too much to do there, a stay of one or two days will be sufficient, anyway.

You can check out their schedule on their website , but stay flexible and avoid at any cost going to Brava at the end of your stay when you depend on reliable transport to an international airport.

Vila Nova Sintra

The ferry takes you to the port of Furna. There, disembarking in front of the massive mountain wall is one of the most impressive moments in Brava. Most travellers – thus on the ferry I took, I was the only tourist… – stay in Vila Nova Sintra, a romantic, picturesque place with adorable little houses lining charming narrow streets. To get here, you can take one of the Aluguers , the private taxis waiting at the port. Having your accommodation send an Aluguer for you is certainly a good option. A ride to Vila Nova Sintra should be around 6 €uro.

The central square of Nova Sintra

Vila Nova Sintra – named, obviously, after Sintra in Portugal – is said to be the prettiest town in all of Cape Verde. I don’t know about that, but it is certainly very picturesque and well-maintained. Also, it deems a bit wealthier than other parts which is correct. As I pointed out in the main post, there are many Cape Verdians in the diaspora sending either money to the homeland or coming back to retire. Therefore, the old colonial houses were restored and kept in good condition.

The town’s very tranquil center is the Praça Eugénio Tavares with a statue of this island’s most famous son.

Eugénio Tavares on the 2000 Escudos bill

The island is called Ilha das Flores – which translates to Isle of flowers – for a reason: It is gorgeous and overgrown with lush greenery and many…flowers. You should cherish that by hiking.

Taking a Dip

If you want to take a dip in the inky-blue ocean, there are two natural pools next to the port of Furna.

View of the Ocean around the Island of Brava

However, the water can be unpredictable and dangerous with currents and big waves – so I would choose Brava rather for hiking and enjoying the beautiful plants – and the ocean just from afar.

Taking a Hike

I took the popular hike from Vila Nova Sintra crossing Nossa Senhora do Monte to Faja d’Água, which is a 6 kilometers respectively 4 miles hike.

Ocean seen from the island of Brava

It took me – including many photo stops of the breathtaking views – about two hours.

Path between two stone walls on the island of Brava

At Faja d’Água I walked the main – at the same time only – road up and down twice, passing kids whispering in awe turista  to each other. So that gives you an idea of how many turistas they must have seen before.

View of Faja d'Água from above

Before taking the ferry back to Fogo, I wanted to take another short hike up to João d’Nole.

Fog over the island of Brava

In the afternoon there is a dense fog going down on Brava – within minutes you cannot see your hand before the eyes. The fog covers also the pavement, makes it all wet, and turns it into chutes.

Of course, I slipped and fell and landed in an unforeseen complicated yoga position and hurt my ankle really, really bad! And I was still lucky that I didn’t rip all the ligaments in my knee from this ‘sporty’ position. So this teaches me – and hopefully you – to always wear adequate hiking shoes with a good grip sole.

Sunrise over Furna

Practical Information on Brava

How to get there and around.

As I explained above, not only is Brava an island that’s not accessible by plane, but also the ferry service to Fogo is limited. It also strongly depends on the weather conditions.

You can check the ferry schedule  on this website , but stay flexible and avoid at any cost tight schedules at the end of your stay when you depend on reliable transport to an international airport.

There is no public transportation on the island of Brava. You can take a cab or an  aluguer , a shared cab.

However, most of the time, you’ll be hiking, anyway.

Another remnant from the Portuguese colonial times is the name of the local currency which is called – just like in Portugal until the installment of the €uro – Escudo respectively Escudo de Cabo Verde, abbreviated CVE. For 1 US$ you get 105 CVE, for a €uro 110 CVE (as per November 2022).  You can check the current rate here.

Many hotels in Cape Verde decline credit cards due to the cost of clearance through Portugal . Sometimes, they accept some foreign currency like €uros, however, there usually is a disproportionate surcharge. Pre-payment of hotels, for instance, is therefore advisable. Credit cards are only accepted in the largest hotels and seldom at shops or restaurants.

In 2014, Banco Commercial do Atlântico installed the first ATM in the town of Fajã on Brava.

As Cape Verde used to be a Portuguese colony, the official language is Portuguese, but people speak krioulo . This is a local patois and, like many dialects, differs a tiny bit even from island to island.

People on Brava do speak some English, but it is certainly helpful to have some basic knowledge of the local language.

Before my trip, I’d practiced using  babbel . The first lesson is free and supplies you with the most important words to interact with people.

Where to Sleep

Since Brava is a bit off the beaten track, only a handful of suitable accommodations exists. You can check them out here*

I stayed at a small guest house in the heart of the town – namely Pensão Paulo Sena *.

View from the balcony at Pensão Paulo Sena on the island of Brava, Cape Verde

I stayed in a comfy room – a bit like spending the night at grandma’s. The breakfast was fine and the – pre-ordered – dinner just amazing. If you are rather into homey and quirky than into posh, I can really recommend it.

Where to Eat

Brava is still a pretty hidden gem so don’t expect there a main road lined with restaurants. I believe that your best option is to have a home-cooked meal at your accommodation. If that’s not an option, try Esplanada Sodadi, a cozy place right on the Praça Eugénio Tavares, the main square. However, do not expect either star cuisine or a very varied menu – by the way, anywhere on the islands.

Do you want to read about all the other beautiful islands I’ve visited in Cape Verde? Then  go to the main post  and take your pick!

Pinnable Pictures

If you choose to pin this post for later, but please make sure to use one of these pictures :

Pinnable Picture for the Post Guide to BRAVA, Cape Verde’s blooming little island

Did You Enjoy This Post? Then You Might Like Also These:

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Guide to SANTIAGO – Cape Verde ‘s main island

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Guide to FOGO, Cape Verde ‘s most varied island

Woman overlooking the ocean on the island of Fogo, Cape Verde

Guide to BOA VISTA, the world’s most attractive heap of sand

Praia do Estoril on Boa Vista Island, Cape Verde

Guide to SAL – from Salt Mine to Ocean Paradise

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Note: I am completing, editing, and updating this post regularly – last in July 2022.

* This is an affiliate link. If you book through this page, not only do you get the best deal. I also get a small commission that helps me run this blog. Thank you so much for supporting me!

47 Replies to “Guide to BRAVA, Cape Verde ‘s blooming little island”

After going through a few of the articles on your blog, I honestly like your style of writing. I saved it as a favorite to my bookmark website list.

What should am American guest give to a Brava family providing accomodations?

Wow, that’s a good – and difficult – question. Do they have kids? I always like to give something to the kids like nice watercolors or colorful pencils or something the like. Other than that, it really depends on the family and also a bit on their social status as there are people who have everything and people who are really poor. How about inviting them to a nice restaurant once you’re there?

Very shortly this web page will be famous among all blogging users, due to its nice content

I definitely hope so 🙂

This place looks very peaceful! Their Escudos bill makes me smile reading the poem on it. I might not spend it and just keep it as a souvenir!

That’s why I took pictures 😀 It’s one of the most beautiful bills I’ve ever seen.

Wow, indeed what a cute little island! You have taken us to so many wonderful places…with comprehensive guides to boot!

Wow! This is really comprehensive. I think this post includes everything for planning a trip to Brava. Thank you so much, Renata.

You’re very welcome, however, I must admit that Brava is not that big – hence, it’s easy to cover 😉

Wow! These picture are breathtaking!!! Great tips for someone whose never been to that area of the world before. I’m adding it to my list.

You won’t regret it 🙂

The location looks (and sounds) to be absolutely lovely. I would rather like hiking and seeing those corridors.

It was one of my most pleasant hikes; and those views…. 😀

Wow. Amazing place and great pics too. Love to visit someday. Loved reading this post.

such a serene place! amazing views.. love the landscape photos!!!

This looks amazing! To be honest I didn’t even know Brava existed until reading your post, but it definitely looks like somewhere I’d like to go one day. The view from Pensão Paulo Sena is gorgeous.

Before I planned my trip to Cape Verde, I hadn’t heard of Brava either 😉

Wow this looks beautiful! I haven’t heard of Brava before!

This place looks interesting and I would love to visit it one day. The bay area looks amazing, I could imagine its romantic picturesque view during sunsets.

Oh wow! Looks really beautiful. I would love to visit this place soon!

Yes, it is a mesmerizing little island 🙂

A place to add to my bucket list.

I love the pictures. Brava is such an amazing place to explore.

I know people who went to Cape Verde for military reasons. As a tourist, I think I would like it best for the hiking!

Yes, but they have also amazing beaches, hot music, mystic volcanos….it’s a great place.

Brava looks absolutely gorgeous! I love being near the water (but not ON the water), and I’m a fan of lush, green, flower-filled landscapes. This would TOTALLY be my jam!

Surrounded by water – this place has your name on it 😉

Amazing! It looks really beautiful and peaceful. I wish I can visit this island one day

You won’t regret it.

We did a one day stop in Mindelo on Cape Verde after a trans-Atlantic tour. We were amazed with the natural beauty of the area. But your post has shown me there is so much more to see. I love the idea of taking the ferry between islands to see spots like Brava. But understand that planning with be a the whim of the weather. But definitely worth a day trip to Brava for a hike and those views.

Ah – Mindelo! That’s a place I missed out on. Would have love to visit for the vibrant music scene. But I’ll be back and then I’ll explore even more 🙂

Thanks for the guide 🙂 I would really love to take a hike in this place

I love everything about this place. It’s tranquil, it’s quite hidden so there are no big crowds, the views are gorgeous, and it’s slow-paced. Brava is for me.

Sounds like it 😉

Can’t wait to visit BRAVA, Cape Verde! Seems like a great place. Maybe after the pandemic? I miss traveling!

Viewing BRAVA, Cape Verde through your eyes and words, seems to be an incredible place to visit, thank you for taking me there.

So many amazing views! Looks like it would be the perfect getaway.

Not going to Lie I had to google & learn about Cape Verde in general because I actually thought the 10 island nation was closer to Africa than South America. What a crazy & unique history of Pirates, shipping, & sadly slavery. As for Brava. I love all the amazing hikes you took from Vila Nova Sintra. Those view points of all the shorelines were so amazing. I especially love the sound of the route crossing Nossa Senhora do Monte to Faja d’Água. Though it saddens me a bit that the water isn’t really swimmable. What a unique formation to discover too when you hiked amid that Stoney Couloirs. I had never heard of that before.

That looks like such an adorable island. What fun places to explore with a family!

It’s actually extremely family-friendly 🙂

Brava seems like the perfect place to get away and enjoy the scenery without lots of tourists. Thanks for the tip about the dangerous currents – I’m always the one wanting to jump right into the ocean, so it’s good to know.

As long as you are a good swimmer 😉

Looks like an amazing place to visit. I know I would in a heartbeat!

An exciting place to visit. A lot of beautiful and excited activities to do. I will surely enjoy that place.

This place looks amazing! I hope to visit this place someday.

Oh wow, this place looks so pretty! I would love to go to Brava 🙂 the coastline is EPIC! Wow!

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Cabo Verde

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How to get to Cape Verde?

Find out if your country flies to Cape Verde and in which airlines you can book the flight. If you’re already in Cape Verde find out all the domestic flights and respective airlines.

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Explore Cabo Verde

Sun and beach, mountain trails, landscapes of a nature that so easily springs up everywhere and a wealth of customs and traditions that does not translate into any price: Cabo Verde is a paradise that rests by the sea .

With the morabeza of the people and the magic that is only found in Islands of sun and sea, this archipelago is a universe of experiences to discover.

Flavors, smells and colors permeate memories and here you can feel the warm breeze on the skin and the sweetness of life.

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Sun & Beach in Cape Verde

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Nature & Adventure in Cape Verde

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Nautic Tourism in Cape Verde

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Cruises in Cape Verde

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Circuits in Cape Verde

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Vacation for Couples in Cape Verde

Cabo Verde is an excellent destination for couples, thanks to its unique combination of natural beauty, paradise beaches, hot climate, year-round sunshine and a relaxed and romantic atmosphere.

The climate is consistently warm and tropical all year round with average temperatures ranging from 24°C to 30°C. This makes it the perfect escape for those seeking warmer climates and a break from more unpredictable weather elsewhere.

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Vacation for Families in Cape Verde

Cabo Verde is known for having a hot and dry climate for most of the year, making it a perfect destination for families who want to enjoy the sun and beach. On the islands, some of the world's most beautiful beaches can be found, known for their crystal-clear waters and white sands, ideal for swimming, relaxing and practicing water activities.

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Backpackers in Cape Verde

Year after year, Cabo Verde has been gaining prominence in the world tourism scene.

Apart from its mild temperature throughout the 12 months of the year, the archipelago offers a wide range of tourist opportunities, from beaches to culture, nautic tourism and magnificent landscapes.

From young to old, tourists from all corners of the world find in Cabo Verde a home ready to welcome them warmly.

With a cuisine rich in color and flavor, an exuberant culture and golden sand beaches that merge into vibrant blue seas, each of Cabo Verde's islands is a destination for unique experiences.

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Vacation for Retirees in Cape Verde

With temperatures exceeding 20 degrees all year round, Cabo Verde has sun, sea, and beaches. But it also has culture, history, and art. It's this diversity that makes the island increasingly popular among those who bring more time in their suitcases.

The archipelago is like a family and a welcoming home to those who seek it out. Those who pass through discover rare beauty in both nature and the Cabo Verdean people. It's not just memories they take away but lifelong friends as well. Perhaps that's why many choose to put down roots here, making Cabo Verde their second home.

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Nature Tourism in Cape Verde

Cape Verde is currently in the first steps of development towards becoming a globally recognized hiking destination.

It has a history of economic success, being an example for other sub-Saharan countries. The tourism industry is today the largest economic activity in terms of contribution to GDP, as is common in many island countries.

Internal conditions and external factors tell us that Cape Verde can become a world-class hiking destination and a reference in sustainable economic development using adventure travel as a tool.

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Honeymoon in Cape Verde

With its paradisiacal beaches, breathtaking landscapes, and romantic atmosphere, the archipelago of Cape Verde is a true paradise for honeymooning couples seeking a special place to celebrate their love.

Its islands offer a unique mixture of natural beauty, beaches, history, and culture making them the perfect choice for newlyweds. From candlelit dinners under starry skies to dramatic mountains and warm beaches, Cabo Verde has all the ingredients for a romantic and unforgettable honeymoon.

CABO VERDE ALL YEAR AROUND

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First International Nature Tourism Conference in Cabo Verde

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Tesouros do Mar

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Stand Up Comedy A Burr NEH !!!

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Sete Sóis, Sete Luas

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Morna Jazz Festival

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Mini Festival Lagoa

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Kriol Jazz Festival

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Kavala Fresk Festival

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Grito Rock Praia

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São João Festival

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Laginha Music Festival

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Gâmboa Festival

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Baía das Gatas Festival

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Festa dos 3 Homens

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Festa de Nhô Filipe (Flag Festival)

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Kolá San Jon Festival

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FONARTES - Craftsmanship Forum

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Art Exhibition for Women

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Living Statue Exhibition

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Batuku Batuku

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Atlantic Music Expo

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Travel Wise

Getting to know a new country is synonymous with new adventures. Each country is a country. It is a different culture, with its own laws, customs, tastes and peculiarities distinct from any other part of the world.

Preparing your trip in advance can save you some challenges.

Here you can find the most frequent questions of travelers and some tips so that you can get to know the country smoothly.

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Remote Working

Looking for the perfect place for the next 6 months of your life, working on your remote projects? You’ve just found it: Cabo Verde! The archipelago of ten islands lies in the Atlantic Ocean and has everything you can wish for – the perfect amount of sunshine and some serious Wi-Fi coverage so you can get your work done while enjoying the natural beauty of the country.

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The VISIT CABO VERDE APP allows you to discover the islands, plan your trip and enjoy the best experiences we have to offer. Immerse yourself in the delicious flavors of gastronomy, venture into unusual nature, fall in love with the mystique of Creole culture, be enchanted by the magic of music, and much more.

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20 Best Things To Do In Fogo, Cape Verde

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If you’re planning to visit the island of Fogo in Cape Verde, you might be looking for a list of the best things to do in Fogo. Well, that is why I created this article to help you in the best way possible.

We’ve traveled to the island of Fogo, and it is a unique island to visit of its striking natural beauty and the opportunity to witness an active volcano up close. The island is known for its rich cultural heritage, reflected in colorful architecture, traditional music, and heartwarming people. So here we go!

1) Climb Pico do Fogo

The 2829-meter-high active volcano is the island’s main attraction, which last erupted in 2014. The best time to hike is early in the morning, which takes approximately 6-7 hours round trip and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape during sunrise. The starting point is located in Chã das Caldeiras, where you can hire a guide for approximately 20-30 euros per person. The hike can be challenging, but the views from the top are worth it!

2) Visit the Chã das Caldeiras

The Chã das Caldeiras is a volcanic valley located at the base of Pico do Fogo. And is a unique and fascinating landscape to explore. The black volcanic soil is fertile and supports a thriving agriculture industry of wine and coffee.

Even though the last eruption destroyed many of the houses in the Caldeiras, people remain living in their houses that sometimes have been swallowed up by the lava. And after we visited and stayed a couple of nights in one of the hotels in the village, we understood why. The place is very tranquil and so unique. You really experience being secluded from the rest of the world and being more one with nature.

You can hire a taxi from São Filipe, hop in an Aluguer, which is a shared taxi, or the small bus leaving from town at fixed times.

We made a travel video about the island of Fogo, where we included our visit to the Chã das Caldeiras.

Travel Guide Video Fogo, Cape Verde

3) Visit the Historic Town of São Filipe

São Filipe is the island’s main town, known for its colonial architecture, colorful houses, and lively market.

Most hotels are situated in the charming town of São Filipe, so you cannot visit Fogo without having experienced this town. Walking around the colorful streets and visiting historical buildings, such as the old church and the colonial-era palace, is very nice. And just stroll around to explore different cafes, shops, and restaurants. You can explore during the day, shower at your hotel, and experience the town’s vibrant atmosphere by night.

4) Taste the Fogo wine

Fogo Island is home to some of the most unique vineyards in the world due to the volcanic soil that creates a distinct taste in the wine. The Chã das Caldeiras vineyards offer wine tastings and tours of the vineyards, where you can learn about the wine-making process and sample some of the island’s best wines. The vineyards are located in Chã das Caldeiras, in the heart of the island’s volcanic crater. The wine tasting and tour cost is around 10-15 euros.

5) Visit the Museu Municipal de São Filipe

The Museu Municipal de São Filipe is a museum dedicated to the history of the island. It features exhibits on the island’s geology, culture, and economy. The best time to visit is during the day. Admission is free.

6) Visit Ponta da Salina

The island has several beautiful beaches, such as Praia de Salinas and Praia de Fonte Bila. They’re not white sandy beaches, but they are black! Praia de São Jorge is a beautiful black sand beach on the island’s northwestern coast, with Ponta Da Salina as the main attraction. It is a beautiful natural swimming pool formed by Lava streams from Pico de Fogo.

Because of the significant rock formations, the natural pool is almost completely closed off from the rough sea, which makes it a very relaxing place for swimming. You can get there by collective taxi: Aluguer.

And Praia de Fonte Bila beach is at a walkable distance from the main town of São Filipe.

Read more: Where in Cape Verde Can You Swim in the Sea?

8) Take a boat tour

Explore the coastline of the island by boat and discover hidden coves and beaches.

9) Visit the Monte Velha Nature Reserve

This protected area is home to endemic species and unique vegetation, including the Cape Verdean firecrest and the Fogo endemic tree heath. It is located on the eastern side of the island, and it’s known for its unique flora and fauna, including several species of birds. The best time to visit is during the day. You can get there by taking a taxi or hiring a guide.

10) Visit Brava Island

A visit to Fogo is already a visit to a lesser-known Cape Verdean island, but you can visit Fogo’s sister island, which is even less traveled and only reachable by a 1.5-hour ferry. So if you have plenty of time on Fogo and want to escape from the crowds, visiting this small and picturesque island located east of Fogo Island is worth it.

Read more: How To Get To Cape Verde: Full Travel Guide

11) Hike From Chã das Caldeiras To Mostreiros

Hiking from Chã das Caldeiras to Mosteiros is one of the most popular hikes on Fogo. And here’s what you can expect from this activity:

  • The hike: The hike from Chã das Caldeiras to Mosteiros is approximately 10 kilometers long and takes around 3-4 hours to complete. It’s a moderate to challenging hike, with steep inclines and descents, and can be quite rocky and uneven in places.
  • Scenic views: One of the highlights of this hike is the stunning scenery you’ll encounter along the way. You’ll pass through barren volcanic landscapes, with views of the towering Pico do Fogo volcano and the surrounding countryside. You’ll also have the opportunity to see the island’s unique flora and fauna up close.
  • Local culture: Along the way, you’ll pass through several small villages and can interact with locals and learn about their way of life.

The best time to do this hike is during the dry season, which runs from November to June. The weather is cooler, and there’s less chance of rain, making for more pleasant hiking conditions. The hike can be done independently, but hiring a guide is recommended to ensure your safety and learn more about the area’s history and culture. You can find more about this hike here .

To get to Chã das Caldeiras, you can take a taxi or shared minibus from São Filipe, the largest town on Fogo Island. The cost will vary depending on the mode of transportation, but it’s generally around 20-60 euros. There are also several accommodation options in Chã das Caldeiras if you want to stay overnight before the hike.

12) Taste The Local Cuisine

The island’s cuisine features fresh seafood, such as lobster and octopus, as well as traditional dishes like cachupa and feijoada. Make sure to order some of the local’s most famous dishes. Ask the waiter in the restaurant for the best local cuisine to try out.

13) Stargazing In Chã das Caldeiras

Chã das Caldeiras is an elevated place within a crater, away from other towns making it very dark at night. Perfect to go stargazing. If you plan on visiting Chã das Caldeiras, make sure to stay a night or two so you can watch the stars.

14) Take A Coffee Tour

Fogo is known for its coffee production, and a tour of the coffee plantations is a must-do for coffee lovers.

15) Visit Cova Figueira

The Cova Figueira is a small town on the island’s eastern side. It’s known for its traditional architecture and peaceful atmosphere. The best time to visit is during the day. You can get there by taking a taxi or renting a car.

16) Visit the Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição

The Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição is a historic church located in São Filipe. It’s known for its beautiful architecture and religious significance. The best time to visit is during the day. Admission is free.

17) Visit the Fogo Natural Park

This protected area covers a large part of the island and features diverse landscapes, including forests, wetlands, and volcanic formations.

18) Take a Cooking Class

Fogo is known for its unique cuisine, which features fresh seafood and local ingredients. Taking a cooking class is a great way to learn about the local food culture.

19) Attend A Local Festival

The island has several festivals throughout the year, including the São João festival and the Festa de Nossa Senhora da Conceição. The biggest festival is in the last week of April, Festa de São Filipe, with sporting events, traditional rituals & concerts.

The Santo António Festival is a popular festival that takes place in June in the town of Mosteiros. It’s known for its lively music, traditional dances, and delicious food. The best time to go is during the festival. Admission is usually free.

And on the 16th of December, São Filipe organizes the São Filipe district festival.

Read more: What Do Cape Verdeans Celebrate? A Culture Guide

20) Visit The Casa Das Bandeiras Museum

This museum tells the story of Fogo’s history and culture, from its colonial past to its present-day traditions.

How To Get To Fogo, Cape Verde

In case you’re wondering, how do I get to Cape Verde? Here is the answer.

Getting to Fogo can be done by air or sea. The island has an airport, São Filipe Airport, which is serviced by domestic airlines from Sal and Praia. The closest island to Fogo is also the biggest island of Cape Verde, Santiago island. You can take a direct flight from Lisbon to Santiago island and hop on a local flight to Fogo. The airport is located about 4 km from São Filipe, the island’s main town.

Or alternatively, you can take a ferry from Praia, Santiago Island, which takes around 4 hours but can be rough depending on the sea conditions. Or even canceled when there is extreme weather. The ferry is the most adventurous route, but the safest option, especially when you have limited time, is booking a flight.

Cape Verde Travel Planning Guide

🚑 should i buy travel insurance for cape verde.

100% YES!  — With basic coverage averaging just $2 USD per day, enjoy peace of mind with a plan from  Safety Wing , one of the biggest names in travel insurance.

💧Can you drink tap water in Cape Verde?

No  — It is generally recommended to drink bottled water in Cape Verde. While tap water is generally safe for showering and brushing teeth, it may not be suitable for drinking. Bottled water is readily available and affordable throughout the country. Or you can buy a  Water-To-Go Bottle , which filters your drinking water.

🚗 Is it safe to rent a car in Cape Verde?

Yes  — Renting a car in Cape Verde is one of the best ways to see the islands. I always rent with  Rentalcars , which checks international and local Cape Verdean companies, so you get the best rates.

🏩 What’s the best way to book places to stay in Cape Verde?

For Cape Verde hotels,  Booking.com  is the best site. If you’re considering an (all-inclusive) resort, I recommend TUI since they have the best resorts on the islands.

🛫 What’s the best site to buy Cape Verde flights? 

For direct flights from the UK and Europe, I recommend TUI Airways . For finding alternative flights to Cape Verde, I recommend  Skyscanner .

⛵️ Where to book the best tours in Cape Verde?

For the best tours in Cape Verde, I highly recommend booking your trips at Get Your Guide .

🛂 Do I need a visa for Cape Verde?

Likely Not  — U.S. and most European Passport holders don’t need a visa for Cape Verde. Most travelers will receive a 30-day tourist visa upon arrival.

😃 Which is the safest island of Cape Verde?

Santo Antão – Although all islands are safe to travel to, Santo Antão is the safest island of Cape Verde. It is known for “Morabeza,” a Creole word meaning very friendly Cape Verdean hospitality. In the capital Praia on the island of Santiago, you must be somewhat careful but not need paranoia.

🗣 Do they speak English in Cape Verde?

Yes – Most staff speak English, and some are multi-lingual. The official language of Cape Verde is Portuguese. The mother tongue of virtually all Cape Verdeans is Cape Verdean Creole. ( Read more )

⭐️ What is the best time to visit Cape Verde?

The best time to visit Cape Verde is between November and June. The average day temperature is around 24°C (75°F), the sea temperature is 25°C, and there is almost no rain. Perfect for a white-sandy beach holiday. However, Cape Verde has many attractions and activities throughout the year:

  • The best time to visit Cape Verde for Hiking: November & December
  • The best time to visit Cape Verde for Snorkeling and Diving: July – December
  • The best time to visit Cape Verde for Kitesurfing: December – March
  • The best time to visit Cape Verde for Whale Watching: March-May
  • The best time to visit Cape Verde for Turtle Spotting: Mid-July – October
  • The best time to visit Cape Verde for Carnival: February/ March

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What is cape verde famous for, 18 best cape verde hotels in santa maria, cape verde flight time – travel guide, top 20 best luxury cape verde hotels, top 6 best adults-only hotels in cape verde, what is the difference between sal and boa vista.

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Atlantic Islands Specialist

Must-Visit Destination For 2020: Cabo Verde

Pico do Fogo

Located about 350 miles off the western coast of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean, Cabo Verde is an archipelago made up of 10 islands formed by volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. Once a Portuguese colony, Cabo Verde is now independent and tapping into its tourism potential! The weather is almost always sunny and the temperature hovers around 85 degrees all year long. Plus, it has something for everyone: miles of beautiful beaches for those who just want a place to relax, plenty of mountainous terrain for hikers, and trade winds - making it popular with surfers. Each island has its own range of attractions and, thanks to newly-launched, direct flights in the fall of 2019 from Dulles (Washington, DC) and Boston, Americans can explore this hidden gem easier than ever before. 

It’s easy to see why Sal is the archipelago’s most popular destination for tourists and the island where you should start your adventure. Sal is known as a beach lover’s paradise thanks to its long stretches of golden, sandy beaches which sink into azure-colored waters. For years it’s been a favorite for water sports enthusiasts who love to surf, kite surf, and deep-sea fish. A week on Sal can include excursions to Shark’s Bay to wade among native lemon sharks, or Blue Eye, a stunning natural formation of coastal lava pools. The salt trade used to be one of Sal’s main industries, (Sal means salt) and visitors can even float in the salt mine waters located in an extinct volcano crater, considered a mini spa for your skin. Sal is also known for what’s below the water - visitors have the opportunity to do some great snorkeling and scuba diving. 

The capital of Sal, Espargos, is located in the center of the island, while the main resort area, Santa Maria, is on the south end. Santa Maria is home to dozens of beach-front hotels, restaurants, and various activities, so visitors can spend a day taking in the sites, enjoying good meals, and dancing at one of the bars that host local music or nightclubs.

Seventy miles south of Sal is another beach-lover’s haven - the island of Boa Vista. Long stretches of sand make this a perfect destination for those who want to relax in the sun and swim or dive in the crystal-clear waters with not that many people around. Day-trippers love to experience the stunning dunes in the vast Viana Desert, which leads right up to the ocean. Thanks to shallow, warm waters, humpback whales can be spotted from land between February and May. Also, between July and September, Loggerhead turtles lay their eggs on Ervatão Beach and visitors can witness them in action in the third-most important loggerhead turtle nesting site in the world.

São Vincente

The island of São Vicente is located in the western group of islands and is one of the most diverse in Cabo Verde. Like the rest of the archipelago, it has stunning beaches. However, what truly sets it apart is its breathtaking inland landscapes, plus its vibrant capital city. Mindelo is home to a thriving art and music scene and it is said there is music around every corner. A day's adventure on São Vincente features a visit to the local fish market, a breathtaking view over Mindelo from Monte Verde (the highest peak on the island), and a stop along the northern-most coast to visit the fishing village of Salamansa. 

Santiago is the largest island in Cabo Verde. Located on the southern curve of the archipelago, it is where half the country’s people live. It is home to the country’s capital, Praia, as well as much of the history of Cabo Verde. Cidade Velha in Santiago is Cabo Verde’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dating back to 1462, it’s the scene of the first European colonial outpost in the tropics and features the original street layout of the Portuguese settlement. It also contains the remains of a royal fortress and the ruins of the oldest colonial church in the world. For shoppers, Mercado de Sucupira in Praia is where you can buy an array of goods, plus taste traditional foods.

Fogo, Maio, and Brava

Located on either side of Santiago along the southern edge of the Cabo Verde archipelago are the three less-visited islands of Fogo, Maio, and Brava.

The most prominent of the three is Fogo, simply because it has the highest point in the Cabo Verde chain, Pico de Fogo (which translates to Mountain of Fire). The volcano has erupted periodically since 1680, with the most recent eruption occurring in 2014. This means that the rich volcanic soil produces delicious coffee on the low-level island coastline and fine wines from grapes grown on the volcano’s sloping sides and even inside the actual crater! The most popular island activity is the six-hour climb to the top of Pico de Fogo.

Just to the east of Santiago is Maio - another great beach destination - complete with colorful houses and turquoise waters. The pace on Maio, however, is much slower and the beaches are empty and secluded. That’s because the island is accessible only by ferry or small plane and there are only a few basic hotels.

The southwestern-most island of Brava has only 7,000 inhabitants and is the least-populated of the Cabo Verde archipelago. It is known as the island of flowers, as it is the greenest in the group.

Santo Antão, São Nicolau , and Santa Luzia

The northwestern-most island is  Santo Antão, the second largest of the Cabo Verdean islands. It is famous for its mountains and is arguably the most visually stunning of all the islands. Santo Antão is popular with hikers and anyone who loves getting close to nature. It is often the port where you will find cruise lines stopping by. A popular excursion is the winding mountain drive where you’ll see breathtaking ravines and gorges covered in lush green vegetation. The island’s capital, Ribeira Grande, is a very lively place where visitors can enjoy local delicacies and clothing markets.

Heading east, you’ll first find the small uninhabited island of Santa Luzia and the relatively untouched island of São Nicolau - a sleepy island with very little tourism. Its spectacular scenery is worth discovering on a day trip from a neighboring island.

Whichever Cabo Verde island you choose, there is so much to explore and experience. At Quest Travel Adventures, we’re excited about all Cabo Verde has to offer and can help provide exciting and unique trips to these fantastic destinations. Call us today for a customized quote (1-800-693-1815) or check out our Cabo Verde packages starting at $799 per person for 7 days.

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Luz para as Meninas: Light For Girls

May 23, 2024.

Author: Samory Araújo, Head of Solutions Mapping, UNDP Cabo Verde Accelerator Lab

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Partnership for Renewable Energy solution 

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Target group

Initially, the project targeted 150 girls living in tin shacks on the island of São Vicente who wanted to improve their living conditions. Indirectly, 600 people would benefit, relatives of the direct beneficiaries. In the end, the project benefited 70% of the girls and 30% of the families of boys of school age.

Key Project milestones 

Travel to communities, meet beneficiaries and project partners.

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Benefits / Impact:

Economic empowerment: Reducing lighting costs frees up financial resources for other basic needs, promoting women's economic empowerment.  

Scalability

For the scale-up phase, Luz para as Meninas has partnered with the Global Environment Facility through its Small Grants Programme, which has already funded an additional 170 families on the island of Sao Vicente, further increasing the impact of the Luz para as Meninas project.

The project aims to reach 1,000 families on three islands (S. Vicente, Maio Santiago). This initiative may require an estimated budget of USD 100,000, which could be a combination of funding from the Small Grants Programme (SGP), the Accelerator Lab (Lab) and potential partnerships with other organizations or donors.

Building on the successful experience of the Luz para as Meninas project, the Office will expand this initiative in 2024 by 

Extending the project to other areas of São Vicente and beyond, to the islands of Maio and Santiago, reaching a wider population and addressing energy access challenges in multiple regions.

Involve local community leaders, residents, and stakeholders in the planning and decision-making process to tailor the project to their specific needs.

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The Lab has already established a link with UNI-CV to create the "Kafuka Renewable Energy Solution" (a local solar energy solution for lighting that can be more affordable).

Local production of kits in Cabo Verde, creating opportunities for skills development. Work with academic institutions for a research and development (R&D) component to improve and innovate the technology according to local needs and conditions.

  • São Vicente
  • Santo Antão
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Cachupa: The taste of Cape Verde

  • March 8, 2023

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When the topic of conversation is Cape Verdean food, the first word that comes to mind is Cachupa. But why? Cachupa is the best known traditional dish in Cape Verde.

And now you can find out everything about this local delicacy (including its recipe).

There is not just one way to make Cachupa. Even in a certain region of Cape Verde, each family will make Cachupa in their own way.

But the base of all Cachupa is similar, and then you can choose the ingredients that go with it, almost like a pizza.

What is Cachupa made of?

The base of Cachupa is corn and beans. It can also include other vegetables like potatoes, cabbage, carrots, etc. Cachupa rica, as it is called in Cape Verde, in addition to vegetables, can also include different types of meat or fish.

Why is it important in Cape Verdean culture?

Cachupa is a dish that practically everyone in Cape Verde makes. Cape Verdeans can eat a simpler version on a daily basis. On special occasions, they make a richer cachupa.

It is also a democratic dish. As its base is made up of ingredients that can be produced locally, almost everyone can have access to it, regardless of their economic power.

In addition, Cape Verdeans like to welcome their guests. And having a great Cachupa can be a way to share a nutritious and tasty dish that most people will love.

Cachupa is a dish that reflects the basic Cape Verdean diet, but at the same time also has cultural importance, being present in moments of union and conviviality.

What is part of Cachupa?

Well, we already talked about the fact that in every house you can find a different version of the dish. However, the rich and traditional version of the dish includes:

The corn that is normally used in Cape Verde for this dish is small, yellow or white corn. What they use is dried, not fresh.

You can use different types of beans to make your cachupa. Locally they use Congo, Sapatinha, Black, Rock or Bongolon. (https://www.unicv.edu.cv/arquivo-noticias/5141-fao-produz-documentario-i-love-feijao-cabo-verde-com-participacao-de-docente-da-ecaa)

You can choose different types of meat to put in your cachupa. Normally, in Cape Verde, it can be a combination of pork, beef and chicken meat. They also use pork sausages.

Fish can be used alone or together with meat. Cape Verde is also known for its excellent fish varieties and flavors that local fishermen obtain directly from the sea. Mackerel and Tuna are very popular in Cape Verde.

Cabbage and carrots are some of the vegetables that are usually included in the dish. They can also be used alone or together with fish or meat. So, as you are vegetarian or vegan, you can also enjoy cachupa, made only with vegetables.

Although there are many ways to make a cachupa, here you can get a recipe for a rich Cachupa (with different types of meat or fish).

cachupa recipe

  • 1 kg of corn
  • 1 Kg of beans – congo, sapatinha, or in their absence red
  • 150 g of pork bacon;
  • Half Kg of pork rojões;
  • Half Kg of cassava;
  • Half kg of yam;
  • Half kg of sweet potato;
  • 2 sausages;
  • Bay leaves;
  • Garlic cloves;
  • Salt and Pepper q.b.
  • Put the corn and beans in cold water to soften the day before
  • Change the corn and beans to another water, seasoned with olive oil, onion and garlic and boil (about 2h30m)
  • After the beans and corn are cooked, add the remaining vegetables and leave in the pan until the latter are well cooked.
  • Make a stew with onions, garlic and olive oil, and add the meat (rojões, chorizo, bacon), previously seasoned with bay leaf, chilli, wine, salt and pepper.
  • Add the vegetables to the stew, and let it simmer over low heat

Enjoy. Have a nice meal. And don’t forget to try this locally made dish when visiting Cape Verde.

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Convening for cultural change

An urban studies and planning major with minors in anthropology and biology, Cindy Xie is also earning her master’s degree in city planning in a dual degree program.

Whether working with fellow students in the Netherlands to design floating cities or interning for a local community-led environmental justice organization, Cindy Xie wants to help connect people grappling with the implications of linked social and environmental crises.

The MIT senior’s belief that climate action is a collective endeavor grounded in systems change has led her to work at a variety of community organizations, and to travel as far as Malaysia and Cabo Verde to learn about the social and cultural aspects of global environmental change.

“With climate action, there is such a need for collective change. We all need to be a part of creating the solutions,” she says.

Xie recently returned from Kuala Lumpur, where she attended the Planetary Health Annual Meeting hosted by Sunway University, and met researchers, practitioners, and students from around the world who are working to address challenges facing human and planetary health.

Since January 2023, Xie has been involved with the Planetary Health Alliance, a consortium of organizations working at the intersection of human health and global environmental change. As a campus ambassador, she organized events at MIT that built on students’ interests in climate change and health while exploring themes of community and well-being.

“I think doing these events on campus and bringing people together has been my way of trying to understand how to put conceptual ideas into action,” she says.

Grassroots community-building

An urban studies and planning major with minors in anthropology and biology, Xie is also earning her master’s degree in city planning in a dual degree program, which she will finish next year.

Through her studies and numerous community activities, she has developed a multidimensional view of public health and the environment that includes spirituality and the arts as well as science and technology. “What I appreciate about being here at MIT is the opportunities to try to connect the sciences back to other disciplines,” she says.

As a campus ambassador for the Planetary Health Alliance, Xie hosted a club mixer event during Earth Month last year, that brought together climate, health, and social justice groups from across the Institute. She also created a year-long series that concluded its final event last month, called Cultural Transformation for Planetary Health. Organized with the Radius Forum and other partners, the series explored social and cultural implications of the climate crisis, with a focus on how environmental change affects health and well-being.

Xie has also worked with the Planetary Health Alliance’s Constellation Project through a Public Service Fellowship from the PKG Center, which she describes as “an effort to convene people from across different areas of the world to talk about the intersections of spirituality, the climate, and environmental change and planetary health.”

She has also interned at the Comunidades Enraizadas Community Land Trust, the National Institutes of Health, and the World Wildlife Fund U.S. Markets Institute. And, she has taken her studies abroad through MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI). In 2023 she spent her Independent Activities Period in a pilot MISTI Global Classroom program in Amsterdam, and in the summer of 2023, she spent two months in Cabo Verde helping to start a new research collaboration tracking the impacts of climate change on human health.

The power of storytelling

Growing up, Xie was drawn to storytelling as a means of understanding the intersections of culture and health within diverse communities. This has largely driven her interest in medical anthropology and medical humanities, and impacts her work as a member of the Asian American Initiative.

The AAI is a student-led organization that provides a space for pan-Asian advocacy and community building on campus. Xie joined the group in 2022 and currently serves as a member of the executive board as well as co-leader of the Mental Health Project Team. She credits this team with inspiring discussions on holistic framings of mental health.

“Conversations on mental health stigma can sometimes frame it as a fault within certain communities,” she says. “It’s also important to highlight alternate paradigms for conceptualizing mental health beyond the highly individualized models often presented in U.S. higher education settings.”

Last spring, the AAI Mental Health team led a listening tour with Asian American clinicians, academic experts, and community organizations in Greater Boston, expanding the group’s connections. That led the group to volunteer last November at the Asian Mental Health Careers Day, hosted by the Let’s Talk! Conference at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. In March, the club also traveled to Yale University to participate in the East Coast Asian American Student Union Conference alongside hundreds of attendees from different college campuses.

On campus, the team hosts dialogue events where students convene in an informal setting to discuss topics such as family ties and burnout and overachievement. Recently, AAI also hosted a storytelling night in partnership with MIT Taara and the newly formed South Asian Initiative. “There’s been something really powerful about being in those kinds of settings and building collective stories among peers,” Xie says.

Community connections

Writing, both creative and non-fiction, is another of Xie’s longstanding interests. From 2022 to 2023, she wrote for The Yappie, a youth-led news publication covering Asian American and Pacific Islander policy and politics. She has also written articles for The Tech , MIT Science Policy Review , MISTI Blogs, and more. Last year, she was a spread writer for MIT’s fashion publication, Infinite Magazine, for which she interviewed the founder of a local streetwear company that aims to support victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This year, she performed a spoken word piece in the “MIT Monologues,” an annual production at MIT that features stories of gender, relationships, race, and more. Her poetry was recently published in Sine Theta  and included in MassPoetry’s 2024 Intercollegiate Showcase. Xie has previously been involved in the a capella group MIT Muses and enjoys live music and concerts as well. Tapping into her 2023 MISTI experience, Xie recently went to the concert of a Cabo Verdean artist at the Strand Theatre in Dorchester. “The crowd was packed,” she says. “It was just like being back in Cabo Verde. I feel very grateful to have seen these local connections.” After graduating, Xie hopes to continue building interdisciplinary connections. “I’m interested in working in policy or academia or somewhere in between the two, sort of around this idea of partnership and alliance building. My experiences abroad during my time at MIT have also made me more interested in working in an international context in the future.”

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Whether working with fellow students in the Netherlands to design floating cities or interning for a local community-led environmental justice organization, Cindy Xie wants to help connect people grappling with the implications of linked social and environmental crises.

The MIT senior’s belief that climate action is a collective endeavor grounded in systems change has led her to work at a variety of community organizations, and to travel as far as Malaysia and Cabo Verde to learn about the social and cultural aspects of global environmental change.

“With climate action, there is such a need for collective change. We all need to be a part of creating the solutions,” she says.

Xie recently returned from Kuala Lumpur, where she attended the Planetary Health Annual Meeting hosted by Sunway University, and met researchers, practitioners, and students from around the world who are working to address challenges facing human and planetary health.

Since January 2023, Xie has been involved with the Planetary Health Alliance, a consortium of organizations working at the intersection of human health and global environmental change. As a campus ambassador, she organized events at MIT that built on students’ interests in climate change and health while exploring themes of community and well-being.

“I think doing these events on campus and bringing people together has been my way of trying to understand how to put conceptual ideas into action,” she says.

Grassroots community-building

An urban studies and planning major with minors in anthropology and biology, Xie is also earning her master’s degree in city planning in a dual degree program, which she will finish next year.

Through her studies and numerous community activities, she has developed a multidimensional view of public health and the environment that includes spirituality and the arts as well as science and technology. “What I appreciate about being here at MIT is the opportunities to try to connect the sciences back to other disciplines,” she says.

As a campus ambassador for the Planetary Health Alliance, Xie hosted a club mixer event during Earth Month last year, that brought together climate, health, and social justice groups from across the Institute. She also created a year-long series that concluded its final event last month, called Cultural Transformation for Planetary Health. Organized with the Radius Forum and other partners, the series explored social and cultural implications of the climate crisis, with a focus on how environmental change affects health and well-being.

Xie has also worked with the Planetary Health Alliance’s Constellation Project through a Public Service Fellowship from the PKG Center, which she describes as “an effort to convene people from across different areas of the world to talk about the intersections of spirituality, the climate, and environmental change and planetary health.”

She has also interned at the Comunidades Enraizadas Community Land Trust, the National Institutes of Health, and the World Wildlife Fund U.S. Markets Institute. And, she has taken her studies abroad through MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI). In 2023 she spent her Independent Activities Period in a pilot MISTI Global Classroom program in Amsterdam, and in the summer of 2023, she spent two months in Cabo Verde helping to start a new research collaboration tracking the impacts of climate change on human health.

The power of storytelling

Growing up, Xie was drawn to storytelling as a means of understanding the intersections of culture and health within diverse communities. This has largely driven her interest in medical anthropology and medical humanities, and impacts her work as a member of the Asian American Initiative.

The AAI is a student-led organization that provides a space for pan-Asian advocacy and community building on campus. Xie joined the group in 2022 and currently serves as a member of the executive board as well as co-leader of the Mental Health Project Team. She credits this team with inspiring discussions on holistic framings of mental health.

“Conversations on mental health stigma can sometimes frame it as a fault within certain communities,” she says. “It’s also important to highlight alternate paradigms for conceptualizing mental health beyond the highly individualized models often presented in U.S. higher education settings.”

Last spring, the AAI Mental Health team led a listening tour with Asian American clinicians, academic experts, and community organizations in Greater Boston, expanding the group’s connections. That led the group to volunteer last November at the Asian Mental Health Careers Day, hosted by the Let’s Talk! Conference at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. In March, the club also traveled to Yale University to participate in the East Coast Asian American Student Union Conference alongside hundreds of attendees from different college campuses.

On campus, the team hosts dialogue events where students convene in an informal setting to discuss topics such as family ties and burnout and overachievement. Recently, AAI also hosted a storytelling night in partnership with MIT Taara and the newly formed South Asian Initiative. “There’s been something really powerful about being in those kinds of settings and building collective stories among peers,” Xie says.

Community connections

Writing, both creative and non-fiction, is another of Xie’s longstanding interests. From 2022 to 2023, she wrote for The Yappie, a youth-led news publication covering Asian American and Pacific Islander policy and politics. She has also written articles for The Tech , MIT Science Policy Review , MISTI Blogs, and more. Last year, she was a spread writer for MIT’s fashion publication, Infinite Magazine, for which she interviewed the founder of a local streetwear company that aims to support victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This year, she performed a spoken word piece in the “MIT Monologues,” an annual production at MIT that features stories of gender, relationships, race, and more. Her poetry was recently published in Sine Theta  and included in MassPoetry’s 2024 Intercollegiate Showcase. Xie has previously been involved in the a capella group MIT Muses and enjoys live music and concerts as well. Tapping into her 2023 MISTI experience, Xie recently went to the concert of a Cabo Verdean artist at the Strand Theatre in Dorchester. “The crowd was packed,” she says. “It was just like being back in Cabo Verde. I feel very grateful to have seen these local connections.” After graduating, Xie hopes to continue building interdisciplinary connections. “I’m interested in working in policy or academia or somewhere in between the two, sort of around this idea of partnership and alliance building. My experiences abroad during my time at MIT have also made me more interested in working in an international context in the future.”

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