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Boa Vista and Sal – The Differences

It seems like holidaymakers all over the world are going crazy over Cape Verde, the chain of islands in the Atlantic Ocean that is often favourably compared to the Canary Islands.

With 10 islands making up the Cape Verde archipelago, it can be confusing to get to grips with these beautiful little corners of sun, sand and sea. But don't worry, we're on hand to explain.

The most populated areas are the islands of Boa Vista – which translates to 'great view' in Portuguese – and Sal, which translates as 'salt'. They each provide very different experiences and we can help you decide whether you'd prefer a trip to the tourism hub of Sal, or the traditional chic of Boa Vista.

Sal – hot beaches and hotter nightlife

Cape Verde has been independent for a little over two centuries.

Its economic development over that time has stunned analysts the world over – not least due to its lack of natural resources. However, much of the country's fortunes come down to tourism, and on the island of Sal, they've developed a fantastic variety of resorts and activities that suit every kind of holidaymaker.

Most of the Cape Verdean islands are arid, because of how close they are to the African Sahara. However, Sal has a huge amount to do within and beyond its main cities, and the country itself is very much modern, thanks to just how quickly it's developed over the years.

With a population of just 10,000, it's not going to feel too crowded on the hot, neon streets of Espargos, and you'll also have plenty of space for yourself on the famous golden beach of Santa Maria in the south.

One detail about Sal that a lot of holidaymakers love is how it has such a modern, tourist-friendly community, but still keeps its traditional touches. A great example is the harbour town of Palmeira in the west, where sleepy stylish Portuguese architecture is covered in colourful murals and details.

There's a charming heartbeat to Sal that ought to be enjoyed in full during your visit.

Boa Vista - getting back to nature

Located at the eastern edge of the Cape Verdean island chain, Boa Vista is a snapshot of Portuguese and African influences that have been blended into the distinct charm that characterises Cape Verde.

It's still cosy and welcoming as it benefits from less mainstream tourism attention than Sal. What that means is that now is the perfect time to experience the island in its fullest purity before it's snapped up by developers and resort companies.

Just like Sal, Boa Vista has plenty of beaches and quaint towns with their colourful markets and live musicians – but it also has its own rustic and rugged charm because so much of its countryside has remained untouched.

That makes it a dream location for animal lovers, with cute turtles and vibrant birds to be found across the island.

Boa Vista has been populated for a little longer than its surrounding islands in the Cape Verde archipelago, which means that there's also some rich history to delve into.

Owing to its heritage as a colonial island – uninhabited until it was discovered and settled by Portugual centuries ago – there are colourful structures and imposing ruins across the island. They include the Church of Santa Maria in the capital, Sal Rei, or the crumbled majesty of the chapel known as Nossa Senhora de Fatima.

Culture and countryside

Cape Verde's two main and most populated islands are definitely appealing – and if you book a big enough trip, you can take in both islands and a few more besides.

That said, you're now equipped to make a decision based on the differences between Boa Vista and Sal.

The former gives plenty of old fashioned charm and unspoilt landscapes, while the latter is the tourism hotspot of bright lights and shopping trips.

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