The alternative Caribbean
If you're looking to relax on sandy beaches with clear blue water, Cape Verde holidays are the choice for you. You can always island-hop once you're there, but one of the most popular destinations for a bit of sun and sand is the fishing port of Santa Maria, located in the south of the island of Sal.
This bustling area with its palm trees, cobbled streets and colourful houses is filled with cafes, restaurants and boutiques. But it's the eight kilometre stretch of fine sand, appearing to disappear off into the distance, that is the real attraction. At a fast walking pace, it takes around an hour to get from one end of the beach to the other.
Enjoy the views of this paradise island by putting your feet up on a sunlounger with a glass of rum – Aguardiente is the traditional tipple and available at most beach bars.
Sal is actually Portuguese for 'salt', as this is a former centre for salt production. If you head to Pedra Lume Salt Crater, you can lie back and experience the strange sensation of floating Dead Sea-style in the warm volcanic water. You can even indulge in a medicinal clay bath afterwards.
The Cape Verde islands offer a fantastic array of marine life. You can whale-watch between May and September, go snorkelling and diving, or experience some turtle-watching on Sal and Boa Vista. Boa Vista – meaning 'beautiful view' – has 55 kilometres of uninterrupted sandy coastline which is abundant with creatures.
The group of islands is one of the most important nesting areas in the world for big loggerhead turtles. You can take a night safari to see the turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs, but try to pick a reputable conservation company to guide you so you can have the best experience possible.
If you're a nature-lover and want to see the many species inhabiting the islands all in one place, take a day trip to Santiago. It's the largest of the Cape Verde islands, and also boasts green, or verde, valleys, unusual given its proximity to the Sahara desert.
Culture and food
Old Colonial buildings on the islands serve as a stark reminder of their slave-trade past. In Sal Rei, the capital of Boa Vista, there are colonial buildings as well as an impressive church. However, elegant Mindelo Port in Sao Vicente is considered the cultural capital of all the islands.
There's a rich and varied culture to explore across the islands. This includes Cape Verdean food, influenced by Creole, African and Portuguese flavours. Fresh locally caught fish is incorporated into much of the food, and you can even watch the fishermen sell their day's catch on the piers.
Cachupa rica is a slow-cooked stew with marinated tuna, beans, mashed corn and vegetables, or you could keep it simple with octopus, or sea-urchin linguini. Much of the produce used – onions, tomatoes, cabbage, dried beans and kale – is grown on the islands, and a good way to immerse yourself and have fun is to visit the traditional African markets. If tasting local delicacies doesn't tickle your fancy, you'll also find other styles of food on the islands – including the universally known and loved pizza.
With its fine sandy beaches, clear blue sea, incredible wildlife, great food and bar scene, Cape Verde is the perfect place to lay your hat and – with great weather and discounts on All Inclusive Cape Verde holidays all year round – this destination offers it all.