Sal is the largest tourist destination and the most developed island in Cape Verde. With numerous resorts and a bustling vibrant capital city there's plenty to do and see on your Sal holidays. The island has numerous white-sand beaches, and the Sahara breeze that passes through makes it an excellent spot to try out some wind or kite-surfing. If you're planning holidays to Sal and are stuck on what to check out first, here's a list of some must-see places and must-do things during your visit.
The beaches in Sal are its number-one hotspot destination, and visitors come from all over to experience the picture-perfect sun and surf. Most of the beaches are disorganised and unspoilt, giving you the authentic Cape Verde experience.
The most popular beach for holidaymakers to visit is Praia de Santa Maria. This eight-kilometre coastline – well over an hour's walk long – has cafes, beach bars and restaurants along its shore as well as fantastic surfing facilities. Praia de Santa Maria also has a pier heading out into the water where local fishermen bring up their daily catch. You can also head to Buracona, a small bay in the north-west that holds a strikingly beautiful natural pool, famously called the Blue Eye.
One destination that simply cannot be missed is the Sal turtle hatchery. If you visit between July and September you'll be given guided walks along the beach to see the female sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. This incredible act of nature will be the highlight of your trip.
Your tour will also include educational talks on these reptiles and on the danger poaching has brought to them. Anyone visiting between August and December will have a front-row seat to see the baby turtles hatch out of their eggs and make their way back into the water.
Experience the island's natural beauty on horseback. Sal is a relatively small island and on horseback you can have guided tours through salt mines, natural reserves and – of course – the beaches. All rides are supervised by professionals and available for beginners or experienced riders. If you've never ridden a horse before you'll be taught what to do, and in no time be trotting across the white-sand beaches with the setting sun as your backdrop.
The open-air market in Sal is a great place to do a bit of souvenir shopping and check out the local handmade goods. You'll find all sorts of items here – coconut-shell carvings, bongo drums, clay dolls, African masks, jewellery, clothing, along with other gifts such as woven baskets and fabrics. You'll find some delicious local produce in the cobbled streets around the market, and you can grab a bite to eat while you hit the stalls.
If you're a fan of the water, Sal has some great places to do a bit of scuba diving. Join a group of experienced divers and be led on an excursion into the deep. The underwater marine life in Cape Verde is colourful with reef walls and trumpet fish. You can also swim by volcanic landscapes, silent rock tunnels and shipwrecks. There's quite an underwater world to discover.
One of the best times to visit Sal is during one of their annual festivals. The day-long celebration of Our Lady of Piety commemorates the patron saint with morning Mass in Santa Maria's church and then a procession down to the beach. Once by the water the real party begins with live music and swimming races.
Another festival is Municipal Day which celebrates the founding of Sal and gives visitors the opportunity to experience a music festival in Santa Maria, showcasing local bands and soloists.