Calhau beach, Cape Verde - photo by Henryk Kotowski

Things to do in the Cape Verde Islands

Cape Verde-Praia-Marché - photo by Ji-Elle
Cape Verde Praia Marché – photo by Ji-Elle

I have to admit I wasn’t exactly sure of the location of the Cape Verde Islands when I started to research travelling there but it wasn’t long before they had short right up my travel bucket list.

For a start it is an archipelago – I just love that soothingly romantic word. Ten islands, 350 miles off the coast of West Africa and historically a Portuguese Colony, makes Cape Verde a little bit African, a little bit European and an all-round idyllic tropical island destination.

Portuguese explorers arrived in the 15th century and used the islands as a staging post for the cruel slave trade. The islands attracted traders and pirates alike until the abolition of slavery in the 19th century saw Cape Verde reinvent itself as a commercial shipping stopover. They won independence from Portugal in 1975

So here are my top things to do when holidaying in the Cape Verde Islands:

Idyllic beaches

Coastlines fringed with miles of white and gold beaches make for a perfect beach holiday destination and there is a good range of beach accommodation and resorts. The islands of Boa Vista and Sal are especially popular. Praia de Chaves, Santa Maria Beach and Santa Monica Beach are all stretches of pristine sandy paradise.

Rugged volcanic landscapes

Many holidaymakers don’t get past the beaches but the Cape Verde islands have spectacular volcanic landscapes and amazing hiking opportunities. As anyone who follows this blog knows I love hiking holidays and I’ll be heading for the islands of Santo Antâo and Santiago and also aim to climb the 2,829-metre summit of Pico do Fogo, the highest peak in the Cape Verde Islands.

Calhau beach, Cape Verde - photo by Henryk Kotowski
Calhau beach, Cape Verde – photo by H Kotowski

Unique culture

After centuries of migration, the multi-ethnic melting pot of Cape Verde is a fascinating Creolese culture with a high degree of equality. All this leads into unique styles of artistic expression, including ever-present music. Imagine a combination of Brazilian bossa nova with African drumming, Caribbean merengue and European polka and you will get an idea of the richness of Cape Verde culture.

Perfect windsurfing conditions

The islands just happen to enjoy nearly perfect winter windsurfing and kitesurfing conditions due to their geographical location in the Tradewind belt. Sal is particularly big on wind-borne sports and has excellent facilities.

Under the sea

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that there is world-class diving and snorkelling to be found here, especially off the coasts of Sal and Boa Vista. You can also view migrating turtles and whales at the right time of year.

So there you have it, make sure Cape Verde is on your travel bucket list too!

By Natasha von Geldern

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